Around 1982, I sat in an outdoor restaurant in the Catskills with legendary boxing film collector Jim Jacobs. He said, “Of all the fights I’ve seen, the worst decision was when (WBA & WBC) light heavyweight champion Harold Johnson (69-8) lost his title to Willie Pastrano (57-11-8) in Vegas.”

It was in June of 1963 at the Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, with Johnson losing the title by split decision, scoring 69-68, 69-67 and 67-68.

Pastrano would go 4-2 with two title defenses before his career-ending fight with 1956 Olympic Silver Medalist Jose “Chegui” Torres, trained by legendary Cus D’Amato. D’Amato, on my visit to Catskill, would tell me, “The people handling Pastrano would only give Torres a shot at the title if I weren’t in the corner.

I had my assistant work the corner with me by telling him the numbers for Torres (he trained with numbers painted on a heavy bag, such as 1 for the jab, 2 for the left hook, etc.)

Torres had Pastrano down in the sixth, and the referee, Johnny LoBianco, stopped the fight between the ninth and tenth rounds, declaring Torres as the new champion.

In November of 1976, this writer witnessed the worst decision he ever saw, sitting among a Pennsylvania indoor record crowd of 16,019 at the Spectrum when Puerto Rico’s WBC World Super Featherweight champion Alfredo “Petro” Escalera, 36-7-2, in his seventh defense won a split decision of Philadelphia’s Tyrone Everett, 34-0, with the Mexican judge ruling for Everett, the Puerto Rican judge for Escalera and Philadelphia judge Lou Tress in his 331st bout ruling for Escalera never to judge a fight again.

I had it 13-2 in rounds for Everett. The following year, Everett would win bouts against two opponents with losing records and be shot to death ten days later. In January 1978, Escalera would lose his title, being stopped by Alexis Arguello in 13 rounds.

Some of the most controversial decisions I heard of or witnessed were in June of 1973 when Ernie Terrell lost to Chuck Wepner for the National Americas vacant title 7-5 in rounds by the referee Harold Valan in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

In April 1960, NBA middle champion Gene Fullmer retained his title in a split draw against Joey Giardello. The first live fight I attended I felt Dick Turner defeated fellow Philly opponent Stanley “Kitten” Hayward losing by split decision at the Philadelphia Arena. Turner would never fight again.

I didn’t always agree with most fans when “Sugar” Ray Leonard defeated Middle champion “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler in April 1987 in Las Vegas, ending Hagler’s career, though most fans felt he won.

Two fights later, WBC World Super Middle champion Leonard fought to a split decision draw with WBO World Super Middle champion Tommy “Hit Man” Hearns in June of 1989 in Las Vegas, with the WBC Super Middle champion Leonard hitting the canvas twice. Most fans felt Hearns won, although I wasn’t one of them.

In 1982 in my visit to Catskills I sat in the bedroom of an amateur named 16 year-old Mike Tyson watching my second all-time favorite on film Kid Gavilan losing in April of 1954 by majority decision to middleweight champion Carl “Bobo” Olson in Chicago.

In world welterweight champion Gavilan’s next fight the decision was worse when he lost to mob connected Johnny Saxton at Philadelphia’s Convention Hall in October of 1954.

According to Nat Fleischer in the Ring, in January 1955, referee Pete Pantaleo showed favoritism, frequently warning Gavilan against holding, whereas Saxton was mainly to blame.

Some fans felt world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali lost all three fights to Ken Norton, though only losing the first one. In June of 1963, Cassius Clay was dropped by the UK’s Henry Cooper in the fourth round. In between rounds his trainer Angelo Dundee cut the glove of Clay to give him time to re-coup.

Cooper was stopped the following rounds, being known to be a “bleeder” on cuts.

This writer looks forward to the many controversial decisions the well-known fans make.

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