BARCELONA ’92 OLYMPICS / DAY 8 : Griffin Is Upset, 6-5; U.S. Protests Scoring : Boxing: Computer printouts show American light-flyweight had landed more punches against Spanish opponent--but that the judges were slow to respond.
In a stunning blow to the American boxing team, the little boxer the coach calls “our heart, our backbone” was upset by a 4-foot-10 Spaniard in the Olympics here Saturday.
Eric Griffin, a two-time world amateur champion at light-flyweight--106 pounds--and the one boxer the U.S. delegation figured as close to being a certainty for a gold medal here as anyone, lost a disputed 6-5 decision to Rafael Lozano of Cordoba.
Coach Joe Byrd and other USA Boxing officials filed a protest shortly after the bout, when printouts showed that the judges actually had scored 31 more blows for Griffin, but had failed to do so within the required one second of each blow.
Amateur boxing’s new computer system requires that three of five judges must register a scoring blow within a second after it has landed for it to be registered by the computer.
“Our protest is based on the raw data that we have, that all five computer judges actually scored the bout for Eric, and so did all five members of the jury,” said Jim Fox, executive director of USA Boxing.
“The problem is that the judges weren’t hitting the button within the one second.
“It suggests to us our kid won the fight. A tragedy has occurred to an outstanding young American athlete, and all we are asking is that he be given a level playing field to compete on.”
Fox and Paul Konnor, federation vice president, said that the U.S. protest was reviewed for two hours by an International Amateur Boxing Assn. appeals committee and that it would be acted upon this morning by Anwar Chowdhry of Pakistan, association president.
The five judges scoring the bout were from Ghana, Argentina, Canada, the Independent Olympic Participants--Yugoslavia--and Pakistan.
“They stole the fight from me,” said Griffin, the 5-foot-3 Broussard, La., native who is the United States’ most decorated boxer since the 1988 Olympics.
“They had it set up some kind of way when I stepped in the ring. They have something against the Americans.”
Lozano, who scored the first major upset in boxing, didn’t take up the sport until 27 months ago, when Griffin was already a world champion.
Lozano matched Griffin punch for punch. The score was 2-1 after one round, 3-2 after two, both for Griffin, and Griffin complained about that, too.
“Can anyone tell me I landed only six punches in that fight?” he said. “No. It was more like 30 or 40. Well, this is it for me for amateur boxing. But I still feel like I won the fight, and that I’m still the world champion.”
About a dozen U.S. journalists covering the match believed Griffin had won the bout, but all said it was close.
When asked if he thought Griffin had been cheated, Byrd said: “I thought he (won), but I’m not a judge. When I saw the 3-2 after the second round, I couldn’t believe it.
“I told Eric: ‘They’re not giving you a thing--you’d better start coming right down the middle.’
“I figured we’d get a bad deal along the way, but I figured it’d be from a referee, not the judges. It’s a shame--Eric is the heart of our team, our backbone. This is ridiculous.”
Although Fox said it was not part of the U.S. protest, one judge working the fight, Keith Dadzie of Ghana, had been suspended for two days for turning in low scores earlier in the tournament.
“If the guy was incompetent, why did they bring him back?” Byrd said.
Griffin was pulled out of the 1988 Olympic team boxoffs shortly before he was to box Michael Carbajal when Griffin tested positive for marijuana. He then had to appear at a Las Vegas news conference, was suspended and sent home in disgrace.
He said he spent six months “tipping over furniture,” then decided to put off turning pro for four years, to start over and try to make the 1992 U.S. team.
Within a year, Griffin won the world championship at light-flyweight in 1989 at Moscow. He repeated at Sydney in 1991, won twice at World Championship Challenge matches and was rated No. 1 in the world at light-flyweight by AIBA the past three years.
No one gave the U.S. delegation much of a chance at having the decision reversed, because that would essentially be an admission by the AIBA that its computer scoring system is seriously flawed.
In many other bouts in the tournament, significant numbers of scoring blows have been recorded after the one-second limit and, therefore, disallowed. Based on total blows scored--but not accepted by the computer--Griffin won by an 81-50 margin, U.S. officials said.
Fox and Konnor said they would ask AIBA after the Olympics to consider lengthening the time a judge has to record a blow.
But U.S. judge-referee Jerry Dusenberry, who helped design the computer scoring system used in the United States, said no one has previously suggested that the one-second span was too short.
“The one-second window to this point hasn’t been a problem,” he said.
Fox also noted that when the referee called a standing-eight count on Lozano during the second round after Griffin had landed a right hand, none of the five judges recorded it as a scoring blow. “I thought I won decisively,” Lozano said through an interpreter. “Griffin threw a lot of punches, but I blocked many and countered him.”
The low score puzzled many. In the first two days of the tournament, judges were extremely conservative, turning in scores of 5-2, 6-3 and 7-4. Shutouts were common. Then, in recent days, scores had increased markedly.
How They Saw It
Computer printouts revealed the following individual scoring of the judges, all favoring Eric Griffin over Rafael Lozano:
Osvaldo Beisbal (Argentina): 10-9Francis MacDougall (Canada): 26-17
Sreten Yabucanin (Yugoslavia): 18-9Abdul Rashid (Pakistan): 19-9Keith Dadzie (Ghana): 8-5