WBO denies request to order Alaniz vs. Esparza III

By Scott Shaffer


WBO denies request to order Alaniz vs. Esparza III

The WBO has decided that an immediate rematch is not warranted between three-belt flyweight champion Gabriela Alaniz (pictured) and her predecessor, Marlen Esparza, as result of the split decision rendered by the judges on April 27th in favor of Alaniz. Esparza was declared the loser of the fight that took place at Save Mart Arena in Fresno, California. She then filed a protest with the WBO. It was a three-belt championship fight, as the WBA and WBC titles were also at stake in addition to the WBO version. The fight was an immediate rematch of a 2023 fight that Esparza won by majority decision. The immediate rematch came about as a result of a protest by Alaniz that was granted by the WBO.

The WBO made the following determination: On April 26th, the official weigh-in for the Esparza/Alaniz rematch was conducted by the California State Athletic Commission. The prescribed weight limit in the flyweight division is 112 pounds. Esparza came in at 114 and consequently lost her WBO flyweight championship at the scales. Alaniz complied with the weight limit, hitting the scales at 111.2. Therefore, the bout proceeded as a WBO world title contest exclusively for Alaniz. In other words, Esparza could not qualify for the title [due to her] failure to comply with the established weight limit. On April 27th, Alaniz defeated Esparza via a split decision. The scores were as follows: judge Fernando Villareal (97-93) in favor of Alaniz; judge Steve Morrow (98-92) in favor of Esparza, and judge Zachary Young (96-94) in favor of Alaniz. By the foregoing decision, Alaniz won the vacant WBO flyweight title.

Through attorney Kurt Emhoff, Esparza primarily argued that the consensus scoring on the official scorecards showed that the majority of the officials scored six rounds in favor of Esparza (rounds 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, and 9) as opposed to only four for Alaniz (rounds 4, 6, 7, and 10). Esparza also noted that the DAZN commentary team had scored the fight in favor of Esparza 96-94.

To address Esparza, the WBO appointed five anonymous judges to review the bout. Here is the substance of the WBO's reasoning in denying Esparza's protest:

"The results of these officials were tabulated to clearly ascertain the rounds each fighter won using an average scale based on 60%, 80% and 100% percent respectively. This means that 3 of the 5 judges must agree to determine which fighter won the rounds. After their respective review and rescoring of the bout in question, the findings of 5 judges stated that Esparza won round 2 in all scorecards 100%; won round 5 in 80% of the scorecards, and rounds 8, and 9 in 60% of the scorecards. Whereas with Alaniz, the Judges agreed in rounds 1, 4, and 10 in the 100% scorecards; Alaniz won rounds 3 and 6 in 80% of the scorecards, and round 7 in 60% of the scorecards. Therefore, it can be established from the independent judges’ scorecards that Alaniz won 6 rounds and Esparza won 4 rounds. The next step in the analysis was to combine the scores of the independent judges with the scores rendered by the official bout judges to find the percentage agreement by round. Upon doing the analysis, the combined scores of the judges stated that Alaniz won rounds 4 and 10 on all 8 of the 8 scorecards (100%); no rounds in her favor in 7 of the 8 scorecards (87.5%); she won rounds 1 and 6 on 6 of the 8 scorecards (75%); won rounds 3 and 7 on 5 of the 8 scorecards (62.5%) and no rounds in her favor of 4 of the 8 scorecards (50%)... Also, there is nothing in the record that demonstrates that the resolution of the Esparza/Alaniz bout was substantially irregular or that there was a clear misapplication of the rules of boxing resulting in a manifest unfairness. The petitioner argues that Alaniz [issued] blatant fouls, which warranted point deductions that if taken in rounds 9 and 10, the scorecards would have changed particularly that of judge Zachary Young, whose 96-94 scorecard in favor of Alaniz would have ended up 94-94 resulting in the fight being scored a draw. This Committee is not convinced by the “foul” argument raised by Team Esparza. For starters, the argument is highly speculative. Further, we must highlight that per the Association of Boxing Commissions’ (ABC) Unified Rules of Boxing, the referee is the sole arbiter of the bout and is the only individual authorized to stop a contest. Simply put, [the referee] Mr. Colantes within his discretion, determined that only an admonishment was warranted in the instances referenced by [Esparza. However, this] ruling does not impair Team Esparza to resort directly to the California State Athletic Commission and request the [same] relief sought herein. Wherefore, having carefully examined the official bout scores in question; having appointed an independent panel of judges to review and rescore the bout in question; having considered the arguments raised by the petitioner and supported evidence, and having reviewed our governing rules and regulations, this Committee rules that the resolution of the Esparza/Alaniz rematch was not substantially irregular or that there was a clear misapplication of the rules of boxing that would warrant an immediate rematch."