Controversy marred the entire Rolando Romero vs Ismael Barroso card on Showtime Boxing as the sport took another blow.
Not content with the main event being stopped early without punches landing, the other two main bouts saw injustice across the board.
Barthelemy vs Juarez
In the co-main event, Rances Barthelemy (30-2-1, 15 KOs) bounced back from a stoppage loss last July to Gary Antuanne Russell to pick up an unpopular majority decision against Omar Juarez (14-2, 5 KOs) in a super lightweight bout.
The former world champion at 130 and 135 pounds, Cuba’s Barthelemy started quickly and ended the same way he won the first and second rounds and the ninth and 10th rounds on all three judges’ cards.
The scores were 95-95, 97-93, and 98-92 in favor of Barthelemy. However, WBN scored it 97-93 in favor of Juarez, who looked forlorn as he walked around The Chelsea Ballroom after the fight.
Members of the audience continually told Juarez he had won the fight as he wondered what just happened.
After the decision was read, the crowd rained down boos, as many thought that Juarez had done enough to win the fight.
“I understand that most of the fans are Mexican here. They were going for Juarez,” Barthelemy said. “But I also had my Cuban fans, and they were cheering.”
Close fight on Showtime Boxing
Based on the punch stats, it was a close fight, with Barthelemy winning the power punch category decidedly, 49% to 33%.
“I tried to win this fight intelligently with my brains against a young fighter. That’s what I did,” Barthelemy said.
Barthelemy said he would love nothing more than a rematch with Russell.
“I want a rematch even more than a title shot,” he said. “But I want that rematch with Gary Antuanne Russell. I want it badly.”
The 23-year-old Juarez had his three-fight winning streak halted.
“It is what it is,” he said. “I honestly thought I did enough to win. All that’s left is to keep working hard for next time.
“My one mistake was not staying on top of him. I should have been more aggressive.”
Kenneth Sims Jr. vs Batyr Akhmedov
In the telecast opener, Kenneth Sims Jr. (20-2-1, 7 KOs) moved closer to a first world title shot as he out-dueled fellow top super lightweight contender Batyr Akhmedov (9-3, 8 KOs).
The bout was a thrilling WBA super lightweight title eliminator that ended in a majority decision in favor of Sims, 116-112, 115-113, and 114-114.
After Jimmy Lennon Jr. read the verdict, Sims collapsed to the canvas and sobbed into his father and trainer Kenneth Sims Sr.’s, chest following the biggest win of the 29-year-old’s career.
The Chicago-born Sims, now training in Las Vegas, and the Los Angeles resident and Uzbekistan’s Akhmedov combined to land 640 punches, the most thus far in 2023.
“This is what I’ve been waiting on for years,” said Sims, who won for the seventh straight fight. “I’m not supposed to be here right now.
“That’s what they say. Ain’t nobody thought I would be here right now. And I know I’m the best, so at 140, it’s whatever. I’m ready for anyone.”
Akhmedov landed 331 punches to 309 for Sims in the close contest. Sims landed 46% of his power punches, compared to an equally impressive 40% for Akhmedov. Sims landed 87 power punches in the championship rounds to Akhmedov’s 82.
Both fighters continued to push the pace entering the 10th round with Sims’ suffering swelling around his right eye that closed up as the all-action fight concluded.
“This is what I expected,” said Sims, whose only two career losses came on SHOBOX: The New Generation® prospect series.
“This is what I expected of him, but I’m a savage. I’m a dog. I have that dog in me. And that’s what I was saying during this whole time leading up to this that I had that dog in me. I was going to show them.
“My eye wasn’t bothering me. I don’t care. Like I said, ‘I’m a savage.’ I don’t care.
“I want the winner of the main event. I want that title. That’s it. Whoever wins the main event, that’s who I want.”
Akhmedov thought he had won the fight. WBN did, too, in what was a far closer decision.
His previous two losses were also narrow defeats on points.
“Every time I don’t stop my opponent, it’s like they win,” he said. “It seems like it’s a goal against me.
“If they reach the 12th round, it’s like they already won, and they’re already celebrating because the judges give it to them.
“Look at the punch stats. It’s the third time in a row. I won again. I’m winning rounds. But I’m throwing more. I’m hurting him more. He’s surviving seven rounds out of 12.”