WBA suspending choose Gloria Martinez Rizzo after controversial scorecard, discovery of racist tweets
WBA president Gilberto Mendoza told ESPN on Wednesday that he is suspending judge Gloria Martinez Rizzo for six months following her highly controversial scorecard in the Mykal Fox-Gabriel Maestre interim welterweight title fight and the uncovering of racist tweets on an account belonging to her.
Mendoza said he will meet with Rizzo on Thursday in Miami to discuss discipline and will consider permanent expulsion from judging fights sanctioned by the WBA.
Rizzo turned in a head-scratching 117-110 scorecard Saturday in Minnesota, sparking outrage. Most observers thought Fox, who scored a second-round knockdown, clearly won the 147-pound fight in an upset. But it was Maestre who was declared the winner by unanimous decision in the PBC on Fox co-feature.
After the fight, racist tweets from 2020 were discovered on a Twitter account for @GloriaRizz, which had been tagged by the official WBA Boxing account in a December 2019 post celebrating Rizzo as female judge of the year. The @GloriaRizz account has since been deleted. Among the racist posts were remarks against Michelle Obama and LeBron James.
“We saw her score was wrong despite the unanimous decision,” said Mendoza, who confirmed to ESPN that the Twitter account belonged to Rizzo. “Those comments she made in the past — she might be expelled by the WBA.
“I don’t support any kind of racism. I believe in equality. … Sports are the only thing that brings equality into the world sometimes.”
While Rizzo’s scorecard was the most problematic, the other two judges also had Maestre winning. John Mariano scored the fight 115-112; David Singh turned in a 114-113 tally.
Maestre (4-0, 3 KOs) is a native of Venezuela and holds a close relationship with Mendoza, who was also born in Venezuela, where the WBA is based. A two-time Olympian, Maestre, 34, was making his U.S. debut and stepped up in competition for it.
Fox, a southpaw from Maryland, was coming off a decision loss to Lucas Santamaria in August. The 25-year-old, who is Black, told ESPN he “was a little surprised” by Rizzo’s tweets.
“This sport has introduced me to people from different walks of life,” said Fox (22-3, 5 KOs). “But I can’t help but wonder if the person that she is outside of boxing affects how she judges boxing.
“If it weren’t for it being on TV, I’d say this [decision] could do really bad for me. But people around the world witnessed a robbery that night.”
The Minnesota Office of Combative Sports didn’t respond when asked whether the result would be overturned; only the commission has the power to do so. It also didn’t comment when asked whether the commission would review the scoring of the fight. Instead, it sent ESPN a statement saying, “The Minnesota Office of Combative Sports has a grievance procedure. However, it is ultimately up to the World Boxing Association to determine if there is a rematch.”
Mendoza ordered an immediate rematch between Maestre and Fox but added a few stipulations. He told ESPN that there will be no champion’s advantage; if there is a draw, the title will be vacated. And there will be no special permits to allow an interim fight. PBC was hoping to match fast-rising prospect Eimantas Stanionis against Maestre next, sources said. If for some reason the rematch doesn’t take place next, the title will be in abeyance.
“We need to get new judges,” Mendoza said. “I have a concept of making an academy and bringing people who like boxing to online courses and test them in different parts of the world. I want to step away from the boxing circle and find fans who like boxing [to become judges].”