Forrest wins unanimous -- and controversial -- decision

Originally Published: August 5, 2006
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

NEW YORK -- Ike Quartey didn't need to be outside in the Manhattan night getting held up by muggers to feel as though he was robbed on Saturday night.

He only had to listen to the scorecards that were read after his junior middleweight fight with fellow former welterweight champ Vernon Forrest at the Madison Square Garden Theater.

Vernon Forrest
Nick Laham/Getty ImagesForrest had a point deducted for a low blow in the ninth round, and prevailed anyway.

Forrest, who had a point deducted in the ninth round for a low blow, still pulled out the fight on all three scorecards.

Judges Steve Weisfeld and Melvina Lathan both scored it 95-94 while Tony Paolillo had it 96-93 for Forrest, scores that elicited chants of "Bull----!" from the crowd of 3,012. ESPN.com scored it 95-94 for Quartey, as did most ringside media and HBO unofficial judge Harold Lederman.

Forrest's victory came in the same ring as his career-defining win in 2002, when he shocked Shane Mosley to win the welterweight title. His visit to MSG was much closer this time.

Forrest (38-2) seemed to have the edge when they boxed, but Quartey seemed to have the power advantage when they traded in close, even though Forrest landed regularly to the body.

"I thought I did what I needed to do to win the fight," Forrest said. "I just have to do what I do in the ring."

Quartey (37-3-1), of Ghana, was nearly in tears after the decision. When he addressed the media, he hung his head and shook it in disbelief.

"It happened with [Oscar] De La Hoya, it happened with [Jose Luis] Lopez and it happened again tonight," Quartey said, referring to a close loss to De La Hoya and a draw with Lopez. "You saw what happened. You all saw the fight. I'm disappointed. I thought I won the fight. All the fans thought I won the fight."

Quartey promoter Lou DiBella yelled "Disgrace!" from the ring after the scores were read. When he spoke to the media, he laced his disgust with curse words, lambasting the decision.

"Ike won the fight. I don't care what the judges said," DiBella said. "Why does an entire room see a fight one way and three people see it another way? I'm not saying anything funny happened, but how does that happen? We'll give Forrest a rematch any day of the week if he will take one."

Quartey, 36, retired for five years before coming back last year to win three consecutive fights. Forrest, 35, was fighting for only the third time in three years for a different reason. After back-to-back losses to Ricardo Mayorga in 2003, Forrest was out because of severe injuries to his left elbow and shoulder.

He won two small fights on his comeback last year and was scheduled to fight Quartey in April, but he had a setback with his arm and had to postpone it. The arm, on which he has had four surgeries, held up well Saturday. Forrest was able to jab -- throwing 428 -- and stay busy.

"I overextended it a little, but I didn't hurt it," Forrest said. "I just tried to stay a step ahead of him.

"I knew my jab is not better than his jab, but I was better overall."

Forrest's activity may have swayed the judges. He threw 818 punches, but landed just 184 (22 percent). Quartey was more economical, landing 201 of 481 (42 percent).

Forrest reasoned the crowd's anger at the decision was because Quartey had more fans in attendance.

"It was a Ghana crowd," Forrest said. "They were just cheering for their guy. My game plan was to offset his jab and I thought I did that."

The promoters billed the fight as "Now or Never" because of the urgency with which each man needed a victory after such long layoffs. Forrest said the win should get him another title shot.

"You got two former world champions fighting each other, so how can the winner not get a No. 1 spot?" Forrest said. "You got two of the best fighting each other. They didn't bill it as an elimination but there should be one. I would like to fight for a title. I don't care who it is."

Ouma dominates Powell
In the co-feature, Kassim Ouma was too experienced and too busy, giving Sechew Powell a boxing lesson as the former junior middleweight titlist won a unanimous decision in a battle of 27-year-old southpaws.

"That was the easiest fight of my career," said Ouma, who put himself in position for a major fight. "I knew it would be easy. I just wanted to get in there and be done with it. If you didn't think I looked impressive that's because I was saving myself for the big boys."

Ouma (25-2-1) started slowly but came roaring back over the final seven rounds as he handed Powell (20-1) his first loss in front of his hometown fans.

Judge Dick Flaherty surprisingly scored it 100-90, while Weisfeld had it 97-93 and Paolillo had it 96-94. ESPN.com had it 97-93 for Ouma, who won his fourth fight in a row since losing his title in an upset to Roman Karmazin 13 months ago.

"I'm very disappointed losing in my hometown," Powell said. "I didn't fight my fight. I had to stay outside and box, but he forced me inside by putting a lot of pressure on me."

Ouma's sheer volume of punches was difficult for Powell to deal with. He landed 380 of 1,043 punches (36 percent) compared to Powell's 319 of 835 (38 percent).

"He didn't know how to deal with all those punches," said DiBella, Powell's promoter. "It was a leaning fight. You had to take the shot."

Ouma, a former child soldier from Uganda who escaped to the United State at age 19, has often started fights slowly and this one was no different. But eventually he got his jab working and often was throwing so many that Powell could do little but cover up or retreat.

• Also on the undercard, welterweight Andre Berto (14-0, 12 KOs) continued his rapid rise as one of the best prospects in the sport with a first-round destruction of Roberto Valenzuela (37-25-2).

Berto, who came up in the U.S. amateur system but represented Haiti in the 2004 Olympics, wasted no time in attacking Valenzuela with an assortment of punches from both hands.

A flush right hand and body shot hurt Valenzuela before Berto unleashed several blows that knocked him to the ground for a knockout at 2:19.

• Super middleweight Jaidon Codrington (12-1) cruised to a six-round decision victory against Carl Daniels (49-10-1), a faded former junior middleweight titlist who lost his sixth fight in a row.

Codrington, 22, who was fighting in front of his hometown fans, was using the fight to help re-establish himself as a significant prospect. He had been on a fast rise when he was matched with another rising prospect, Allen Green, eight months ago on Showtime's "ShoBox" series.

Green violently obliterated Codrington in 17 seconds to score the knockout of the year, and Codrington's stock dropped quicker than Enron's.

Codrington returned in June to score two quick wins, but against extremely limited opposition, and despite Daniels' losing streak, he represented a big step up in competition.

Codrington, who won 60-54 on all three scorecards, controlled the action from start to finish, and scored well to the body.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com