Boxing judge Deon Dwarte of South Africa did something unexpected Saturday night when media learned he only gave his compatriot one round credit during the unification fight between Nonito Donaire of the Philippines and Jeffrey Mathebula of South Africa.
Dwarte scored the fight 119-108. American judge Steve Morrow scored it 118-109 while fellow American judge Jonathan Davis had it 117-110
Days before the unification fight, critics say Donaire must score a knockout or a really convincing victory, knowing one of the judges is from South Africa. They were wary of a possible biased judging because of Dwarte's track record in fights where South African fighters were involved.
According to Philippine Daily Inquirer, as soon as the name of the judges were leaked, protests were made on the Internet about the inclusion of a South African judge. But Team Donaire prevailed upon concerned fans by assuring them there will be no repeat of the controversial Pacquiao-Bradley fight officiating.
“You can’t do anything about that anymore,” Cameron Dunkin, Donaire’s manager, told the Inquirer. “California has been doing a great job. Changing officials, if ever they do it, would be too much of a concern for Nonito and that’s the last thing I want to happen.”
“There are two neutral judges, we’ll be fine,” said Dunkin. “There’s only so much a judge can do. And we are counting on our fighter to win the fight anyway.”
In his regular column at Philstar.com, veteran sportswriter Quinito Henson reported Dwarte has a reputation for biased decisions, citing previous fights of South African boxers including Ali Funeka vs.Nate Campbell and Jeffrey Mathebula vs. Celestino Caballero where Dwarte was criticized for his alleged biased decisions.
But the two bouts cited were close fights unlike the reportedly flawed scoring made by the judges in the recent Pacquiao-Bradley fight which had been widely criticized by the public.
Al S. Mendoza of Sunstar Cebu said, "Dwarte’s scoring was a stunner, not only because it photocopied my verdict of 119-108."
"If all judges in the world are like Dwarte, boxing is here to stay," he added.
Despite his reportedly biased judging involving compatriots, Dwarte made sure he won't be at the receiving end of harsh criticisms for favoring another compatriot.
Critics say Dwarte's scorecard favoring Donaire by a wide margin despite his reported bias favoring South African fighters, speaks well of his integrity as a judge.
Some boxing analysts and media personalities who watched the fight at Home Depot Center and on video say their scores were closest, if not the same, with Dwarte's score.
With Dwarte's popular verdict on the recent Donaire-Mathebula fight, some boxing fans say the South African judge should be considered as one of the three judges in the Pacquiao-Bradley rematch—if indeed there will be a rematch.