Fight promoter Dan Duva protested yesterday that improper scoring by one judge robbed champion Pernell Whitaker of a victory in Friday night's controversial majority draw against Julio Cesar Chavez in their World Boxing Council welterweight title bout in San Antonio.
Duva sent a letter of complaint to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, which oversees boxing in the state, because judge Mickey Vann of England was quoted in Monday's edition of the London Daily Star that he "took a point away from Whitaker in the sixth round for an appalling low blow."
Duva said only the referee, Joe Cortez, had the authority under WBC rules to deduct points for low blows or illegal tactics. Vann and Switzerland's Franz Marti judged the fight a 115-115 draw; judge Jack Woodruff of Dallas scored it 115-113 for Whitaker.
James Lawton, writing in the Daily Express in London, quoted Vann as saying,"The referee didn't take off a point, but I thought it had to be done."
Vann, speaking by telephone from England, told The Associated Press he did no such thing.
"I deducted no points on any round and I told no one that I deducted a point," he said. "I gave it an even fight [115-115]. Mr. Marti scored it an even fight. If Mr. Woodruff had given Chavez just one other round, he would have had it an even fight. That's how close it was."
Texas boxing official Rick Valdez also labeled the quote "bogus." Vann, in turn, was publicly admonished by the British Boxing Board of Control for having talked to the media.
Cortez stopped the action briefly in the sixth round when Chavez doubled over in pain from an alleged low blow. But the referee never indicated to the ringside officials that they should penalize Whitaker. In fact, Marti and Woodruff gave Whitaker the sixth round by a 10-9 margin. Had Vann not deducted a point, he would have called the sixth round even, and thus Whitaker also would have won on his scorecard.
Jack Garison of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation said no investigation has begun but a complaint form was being sent to Duva's lawyer.
"We have to have a complaint form before we look into it," Garison said. "The letter indicates we ought to change the score without a hearing, but we are not going to do that."
Duva, a longtime foe of promoter Don King and WBC president Jose Sulaiman, had rejected a long list of WBC-approved officials for the Chavez-Whitaker match, but reluctantly agreed to Vann.
"We reached the point where we had to accept the best of a bad lot or call the fight off," said Duva. "But we believe strongly that the choice of officials should strictly be in the hands of the state boxing commissions."
Whitaker did not seem as perturbed as Duva.
"The fans who watched know I won eight of the 12 rounds," said Whitaker, who retained his title. "But if they [the judges] made a mistake, it should be cleared up. I'll give Chavez a rematch, but first, I'd like to hear him admit he lost this one."
Although he failed to win a fourth world title, the draw kept Chavez unbeaten, with an 87-0-1 record.
Duva received support in his battle with King and the WBC from fellow promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank, Inc.
Calling the Whitaker-Chavez draw an "outrage," Arum called upon the Nevada Boxing Commission to:
* Ban the WBC from selecting championship fight officials.
* Have the Nevada Gaming Commission ban all wagering on WBC fights.
"For years," said Arum, "the WBC has been a cover for the criminal conspiracy between King and Sulaiman. Their efforts have been successful because athletic commissions have slavishly followed Sulaiman's dictates. At best, it has been a conspiracy of silence.
"I'm not blameless," Arum said. "But now boxing is close to terminal and I'd hate to see it die."
Arum said professional boxing managed much better in the 1960s, prior to the arrival of sanctioning bodies such as the WBC, World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation. "We had only one champion in each class," he said. "When guys from the WBC or whatever showed up at a fight and demanded this and that, we'd throw them out on their butt. But now they all want part of the gravy train and it has to be stopped."