Sunday, March 15, 2009

Segura stops Canchila in Bizarre Ending

Michael Nelson recaps Saturday night's rematch between Cesar Canchila and Geovanni Segura.

After one of the oddest endings in recent memory, Giovanni Segura exacted his revenge against Cesar Canchila by stopping him at the conclusion of round 4, winning the interim WBA light flyweight title. Canchila defeated Segura by unanimous decision in their hotly contested battle last July.

The bout began almost in identical fashion to the way their first match started; Segura swarming Canchila with a whirlwind of punches. Segura hurt Canchila within the first minute of the round and spent the next minute pounding Canchila along the ropes. Canchila gamely fought back, but got caught with a devastating left hook that immediately dropped him.

After Canchila struggled to his feet, referee Julio Alvarado insisted that he walk to him and Cesar responded by stumbling backwards, unable to control his legs. Astonishingly, Alvarado didn’t stop the fight, and asked Canchila again to walk towards him. Canchila gained his bearings and made it to Alvarado. The fight continued.

Showing an ability to recover that would make Ike Quartey proud, Canchila survived the round. The two warriors exchanged heavy blows throughout the 2nd stanza, as Canchila was now on steady legs giving as good as he got. That is, until Segura hit him with another huge shot that deposited Canchila on the seat of his pants. This time, Canchila got up without staggering.

In a candidate for round of the year, Segura came out for the 3rd throwing violent combinations as Canchila countered off the ropes. Canchila was against staggered with a big left hook, but Canchila managed to remain on his feet. The pace was starting to catch up to Giovanni, and near the end of the round, Canchila made a furious rally, slamming uppercuts to Segura’s body and repeatedly stinging him with right hands. Segura walked back to the corner with an eye that was quickly closing.

Round 4 featured more of the same; both men, viciously ripping into each other, with Canchila’s back to the ropes. At times, it appeared that the tide was changing as Segura was starting to gas. But the heavy-handed Segura was landing the harder blows.

The blistering action took a bizarre twist at the end of the round. Right before the bell sounded, Segura snapped Canchila’s head back with a flush blow on the chin, causing him to stagger into the ropes. The bell sounded and Segura instinctively stopped. Referee Alvarado, either not hearing the bell or completely ignoring it, did not make a move to get in between the fighters. Segura went back on the attack. The timekeeper sounded the bell several more times in an effort to notify Alvarado that the round was in fact over. Regardless, Segura continued punching, getting off a number of blows on his dazed opponent before Alvarado finally jumped in between the two and waved his arm.

What followed was a confusing scene: Canchila’s trainer grabbed his man and sat him down in the corner while Segura dropped to his knees in celebration. Problem was, nobody celebrated with him because everyone thought Julio Alvarado had simply indicated that the round was over, confirmed by the ring card girl stepping inside the ropes with a "5" placard in her hands. After a couple of awkward moments as Giovanni’s face turned from jubilant to perplexed, trainer Javier Capetillo picked Segura up off his knees to get him back into the corner. Alvarado then nodded to Capetillo and raised Segura's glove to clearly indicate to everyone that he had indeed won the fight.

The official time of the stoppage was 3:00 into round 4. Unofficially, it was more like 3:06 into round 4. I don’t recall a case where a referee let a fighter wale on his hurt opponent several seconds after a round has ended, and on top of that, wave the fight off instead of letting the man go back to his corner.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Giovanni Segura and Cesar Canchila engage in a third bout given the controversial nature of this one. They’ll always make for can’t-miss TV. Meanwhile, Julio Alvarado should be given some time off to review the rule book and invest in some hearing aids. Poor refereeing will continue to be a problem as long as it’s allowed to go unpunished. Fortunately, this time a man’s ego and record was the only thing that received injury.

Next time, the consequences might be dire.

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