100 Most Disputed Decisions in Boxing History

Disputed Decisions… History’s Hot 100


Matt Hamilton on Boxing

Matt Hamilton on Boxing. Feel free to add me on Facebook for the best in boxing’s historical photography, analysis & more.

The unique fragmented structural, organizational & cultural nature of the sport of professional boxing lends itself to controversy perhaps better than any other sporting discipline. The ranking list below has factored the following elements into its order:

  1. Scale of controversy surrounding the decision by the judges ringside.
  2. Historical significance of the bout & outcome.
  3. Impact, Short, Medium & Long Term Ramifications within the sport of boxing.
  4. Enduring legacy of the disputed nature of the judging decision(s).
Thus the fights & the events that transpired in the build up & immediate aftermath of each bout factored into my thinking & analysis – most disputed judging decisions should not be taken to mean simply “worst cases of daylight robbery” – as certain decisions heck I agree with; others I don’t necessarily regard as miscarriages of justice though merely very close calls that could have gone either way… others still yet further I’d deem about as legit as a $3 bill.
These then are my hundred most disputed calls in the history of the sport & one’s that remain a timeless reminder that there is only one way to ensure an entirely just outcome to any bout & that’s by stoppage.

1 Sugar Ray Leonard vs Marvin Hagler

  • Official statistics had Hagler throwing 792 to Leonard’s 629 & Leonard landing 306 to 291 by Marvin.
  • Judge Lou Filippo, who had Hagler winning 115-113: ‘He was doing all the work with his aggression and body shots. Leonard only fought in spurts.

  • Dave Moretti, 115-113 for Leonard: ‘Obviously Hagler was the aggressor but he was not effective. You can’t chase and get hit, then chase and get hit by the harder punches and get the credit.’
  • A view not held by all – to put it mildly: Referee Harry Gibbs privately scored it for Hagler, whose team had rejected him as a candidate judge.

2 Julio Cesar Chavez vs Pernell Whitaker

  • Whitaker outpunched JCC 311 to 220.

3 Ali vs Norton III. 1976-09-28.

Ken Norton lost to Muhammad Ali by UD.

Referee: Arthur Mercante 6-8
Judge: Harold Lederman 7-8
Judge: Barney Smith 7-8

4  Joe Louis Beats Jersey Joe Walcott by SD. December 5, 1947.

♠Walcott 10-to-1 underdog at Madison Square Garden.

5 Jack Sharkey vs Max Schmeling II

  • As a result of the controversial nature of this fight, the NYSAC banned all but “boxing experts” (sports writers, referees, judges) from broadcasting descriptions of fights.

Referee: Ed Smith 8-7
Judge: George Kelly 7-8
Judge: Charles F. Mathison 10-5

6 Larry Holmes vs Michael Spinks II

  • Larry Holmes: “The judges, referees and promoters can kiss me where the sun don’t shine—and because we’re on HBO, that’s my big black behind.

7 Leonard vs Hearns II

8 Vito Antuofermo vs Marvin Hagler

  • Mills Lane apparently told HaglerCongratulations. Now stay facing this way until they announce the decision and I raise your arm.

9 Jose Luis Ramirez vs Pernell Whitaker

10 Pacquiao vs. Bradley

  • Pacquiao 253/751 punches (34%) vs. 159/839 (19%) for Bradley, and out-landed Desert Storm in 10/12 rounds.
Manny Pacquiao

Many felt Manny had done more than enough to get the nod vs. Tim Bradley.

  • Duane Ford and C.J. Ross both had it 115-113 Bradley, with Jerry Roth 115-113 Pacquiao.

11 Holyfield vs Lewis I

  • Lewis landed 348 of 613 thrown with Holyfield landing just 130 out of 386.

12  Kid Gavilan beat Billy Graham by SD. 1951-08-29.

  • A poll by the UP of 15 boxing writers had 12 for Graham with just 3 favoring Gavilan.

13 Courtney Burton vs Emanuel Augustus

14  Alfredo Escalera beat Tyrone Everett by SD. 1976-11-30.

  • Widely seen as one of the most disgraceful calls ever. Ring Magazine included it as high as inside the top 5 worst robberies ever.
  • Everett would later be shot dead by his girlfriend after she found him in bed with his transvestite lover.

15 Paul Williams beats Erislandy Lara

16 Juan Manuel Marquez vs Manny Pacquiao III

17 Shannon Briggs vs. George Foreman

18 Oscar De La Hoya vs Felix Sturm

Punches   Sturm     De La Hoya
Landed     234            188
Thrown    541             792
Pct.           43%            24%

19 Floyd Mayweather Jr beat Jose Luis Castillo by UD. 2002-04-20.


Floyd Mayweather’s trademark undefeated record is disputed by many who point to his first fight with Jose Luis Castillo in 2002.

20 Kid Gavilan lost to Johnny Saxton by UD. 1954-10-20.

  • As the fight approached, word began to spread that the fix was in. 20 out of 22 boxing writers at the fight had Gavilan winning..

21  Joey Maxim lost to Joe Kahut by SD. 1948-10-19.
22 Hector Camacho vs Ray Mancini

23 Marco Antonio Barrera beat Erik Morales by UD. 2002-06-22.

Erik Morales

Erik Morales talking to Elie Seckbach.

24 Jimmy Reeves vs Jake La Motta I

  • Fists fights broke out ringside and the crowd booed for 20 minutes after Reeves got the very unpopular decision over Lamotta.

25 Oscar De La Hoya vs Felix Trinidad

  • Trinidad landed 166 of 462 vs. De La Hoya who managed to land 263 of 648.
Oscar De La Hoya

Oscar De La Hoya was on both sides of many of the sports most controversial judging calls of all-time. Photo by Constantion Garcia.

26 Sugar Ray Robinson beat Ralph Dupas by SD. 1963-01-30.

  • I clearly won and didn’t get the decision. If the fight was close he might have got it. But it wasn’t even close.Ralph Dupas
  • I was lucky I caught him with that good punch in the 7th, but it was a little high. I thought I won but then, I never question the officials decision either way.Ray Robinson

27 Nelson v Fenech

28 Brandon Rios vs. Richard Abril

Unofficial scorecards:

  • John Chavez, Boxing Truth: 114-114 Draw
  • Steve Kim, MaxBoxing.com: 115-113 Abril
  • Eric Raskin, Ring Magazine: 115-113 Abril
  • Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports: 116-112 Abril
  • Nigel Collins, ESPN: 116-112 Abril
  • Terry Dooley, BoxingScene.com: 117-111 Abril
  • Gabriel Montoya, MaxBoxing.com: 116-112 Abril
  • Dan Rafael, ESPN: 118-110 Abril
  • Doug Fischer, Ring Magazine: 118-110 Abril
  • Rich Marotta, Top Rank TV: 117-111 Abril
  • Steve Lillis, BoxNation: 118-111 Abril
  • SecondsOut.com: 118-110 Abril
  • Tris Dixon, Boxing News Magazine: 118-110 Abril
  • David Payne, BoxingWriter.co.uk: 118-110 Abril


29 Kid Diamond vs Huerta
30 Roy Jones vs Antonio Tarver I

31 Ceferino Garcia draws with Henry ArmstrongMarch 1, 1940.

32 George Dixon drew with Frank Erne. 1895-12-05

  • Very controversial decision in a bout utterly dominated by Dixon.

33 Knox vs Cantwell
34 Simone Maludrottu 117½ lbs beat Damaen Kelly 117¼ lbs by UD. 2006-04-21

  • Tommy Gilmour stated that “that was shameful. It was the biggest robbery I’ve seen in 35 years of boxing“. 
  • Kelly landed 155 punches while Maludrottu landed only 87.

35 Axel Schultz loses on points to George Foreman

36 Ali Funeka vs Joan Guzman
37 Michele Piccirillo beat Cory Spinks by UD. 2002-04-13.

  • Dan Rafael then of USA Today “one of the most controversial decisions in modern boxing history.

38 James Toney vs David Tiberi

39 James Toney vs Montell Griffin I

40 Lou Bogash draw with Jack Britton. 1920-08-23.
41 Mosely vs De La Hoya II

42 Manny Pacquiao Vs. Juan Manuel Marquez II
43 Paul Williams vs. Sergio Martinez I

44 Manny Pacquiao Vs. Juan Manuel Marquez I
45 Felix Trinidad vs Winky Wright
46 Eubank v Benn II

47 Hopkins vs Pascal I
48 Winky Wright vs Fernando Vargas
49 Julio Cesar Chavez vs Frankie Randall

50 Riddick Bowe beat Tony Tubbs by UD. 1991-04-20.

51 Felix Sturm VS. Matthew Macklin

52 Glenn Catley vs Richie Woodhall
53 Mohammed Ali v Jimmy Young

54 Gomez vs Lockridge

55 Hector Camacho W 12 over Roberto DuranJune 26, 1996.
56 Marco Antonio Barrera beat Rocky Juarez by SD. 2006-05-20.

  • Originally scored a draw with Ken Morita‘s score being announced as a 114-114 draw. Judge Duane Ford’s card was also announced as being 115-113 in favor of Juarez. 
  • Most of the crowd had left believing it was a draw. 
  • 15 minutes later, it was announced that the scores had been added wrongly and that Morita’s scorecard was in fact 115-114 for Barrera, thus giving him the split decision victory.

57 Jimmy Ellis W 15 over Floyd Patterson. September 14, 1968.

58 Larry Holmes beat Tim Witherspoon by SD. 1983-05-20

  • The crowd booed when the decision was announced in favor of Holmes. Boxing Monthly rated it one of its ten most controversial fights of all time.

59 Koki Kameda beat Juan Jose Landaeta by SD. 2006-08-02.
60 Oscar De La Hoya vs Pernell Whitaker

61 Jose Torres beat Eddie Cotton by UD. 1966-08-15

  • 1966 Ring Magazine Fight of the Year

62 Sergio Eduardo Gonzalez beat Juan Humberto Garza by UD. 2002-08-24.
63 Evander Holyfield beat John Ruiz by UD. 2000-08-12

It was highway robbery without a gun,” Ruiz said. “I won the fight and he knows I won the fight.

Judge: Duane Ford 114-113
Judge: Dave Moretti 114-113
Judge: Fernando Viso 116-112

64 Cloud vs Campillo
65 Rodolfo Lopez beat Manuel Estrella by SD. 2002-04-12. 
66 Winky Wright vs. Jermain Taylor
67 Paul McCloskey vs. Breidis Prescott
68 Markus Beyer beat Eric Lucas by SD. 2003-04-05.
69 Oscar De La Hoya vs Ike Quartey

70 Rico Hoye vs. Montel Griffin
71 Eusebio Pedroza beat Rocky Lockridge by SD. 1980-10-04.

Referee: Stanley Christodoulou 147-141
Judge: Rodolfo Hill 149-139
Judge: Harold Lederman 142-144

  • Commentators Tim Ryan and Gil Clancy of CBS scored the bout 145-140 for Lockridge.

72 Kendall Holt vs. Ricardo Torres I

73  Ricky Hatton vs  Luis Collazo

Ricky Hatton

Many ringside felt Ricky Hatton’s American début resulted in a fortuitous win.

74 Greg Haugen beat Miguel Santana by TD. 1988-04-11.

  • Greg Haugen beat Miguel Santana by a technical decision in eleven rounds for the IBF world Lightweight title. 
  • Santana had originally been announced as the winner, and one of the judges then said he had voted incorrectly, giving Haugen the fight.

75 Samuel Peter v James Toney I

76 Henry Cooper lost to Joe Bugner by PTS. 1971-03-16

  • Referee Harry Gibbs (sole arbiter): 73 3/4 – 73 1/2

77 Eubank v Watson
78 Emile Griffith beats Joey Archer by UD. 1967-01-23

  • The AP had two boxing writers covering the fight. One scored it 7-6-2 for Griffith and the other had it 8-6-1 for Archer.

79 Ayala vs Dianza
80 Mosley vs De La Hoya I
81 Chris Byrd beat Fres Oquendo by UD. 2003-09-20.

82 Jermain Taylor vs Bernard Hopkins I
83 Casamayor vs Santa Cruz
84 Valuev vs Holyfield

85 Anthony Bonsante loses rematch on points to Jessie Brinkley
86 Chris Byrd beats David Vedder by UD. 2001-01-19.

In the final match of the night it was the pride of Flint and former world champion Chris Byrd against David Vedder, from San Jose, Calif. After 10 rounds of back and forth action, in which neither fighter really took command, the fight ended in a decision. Much to the dismay of those boxing fans in attendance, the judges handed down a 98-91, 100-89 and 100-89 decision in favor of Byrd.
87 Martinez vs Cintron

88 Vilomar Fernandez loses to Howard Davis Junior
89 Ponce De Leon vs Penalosa

90 Froch vs. Dirrell
91 Tua vs Rahman II

92 Woods vs Johnson
93 Juan Urango beats Naoufel Ben Rabeh by UD. 2006-06-30.

  • Controversial decision, emphatically denounced by ESPN’s Teddy Atlas, and even booed by Urango’s own hometown fans. The fight made The Ring Magazine’s list of the 20 worst decisions of the decade.

94 DeLeon Tinsley beats Sam Tillman by SD. 2006-04-14.
95 Juan Diaz vs Paulie Malignaggi

96 Quartey vs Forrest
97 Michael Dokes drew with Mike Weaver1983-05-20.

Judge: Harold Lederman 143-143
Judge: Larry Hazzard 144-144
Judge: Jerry Roth 145-141
Unofficial AP scorecard: 143-142 Weaver
Unofficial UPI scorecard: 144-142 Weaver
Unofficial L.A. Times scorecard: 143-142 Weaver

98 Bert Schenk beat Juan Ramon Medina by UD. 1999-05-22.
99 Simone Califano beat Istvan Nagy by UD. 2008-07-02.
100 Zab Judah beat Lucas Martin Matthysse by SD. 2010-11-06.

Zab Judah

Zab Judah chatting to Elie Seckbach.

Power Punches Judah Matthysse
Landed                      63       147

Matt Hamilton, for ESNewsReporting