Anthony Crolla accused a boxing referee of cheating after presiding over what has been dubbed one of the worst stoppages in the sport’s history.
The bizarre and shameful scenes took place during a light middleweight bout between Scottish fighter Stephen Newns Jr and his opponent Kutuk Baris in Lithuania on Saturday. In the second round of the amateur clash, Newns Jr seemed to be holding his own after landing a couple of neat salvos.
Baris came back and launched his own assault before putting Newns Jr in a headlock, at which point things started to get strange. After the referee separates the pair, he sends the the Scottish fighter back to his corner.
Bizarrely, the referee decides to give a standing count to a confused Newns Jr, who is perfectly fine and ready to fight on. To the bemusement of the 24-year-old, the referee waves his arms in the air in front of the fighter’s face to signal the end of the fight.
Newns Jr couldn’t believe it, audibly shouting ‘what’ moments later. The shocking incident prompted an angry response from boxing fans already fed up with the sport’s governance, including Crolla, who accused the referee in question of blatant cheating.
He wrote on Twitter: “We all get it wrong sometimes whether it be boxers, refs, judges, coaches but surely this has just gotta be blatant cheating.”
Have you ever seen a worst boxing decision than this? Let us know in the comments section.
Newns Jr offered his take on events in an interview with Planet Sport. He said: “Although a few days have gone, I’m still a bit shocked. Usually, if I have been beaten in the past it’s been like, ‘I’m upset but it’s part of the game’ but to lose like that I was just shocked, how can it happen?
“I didn’t know how to feel. I’ve never witnessed it to happen to anyone else and for me to be the victim of it is obviously rotten. I crack on and then we come into another clash – a kind of grab and hold without any clean blows landing.
“And then the referee starts an eight-count. I hold my hands up and think ‘what’s that all about?’ I go to the neutral corner and try to be sportsmen-like as much as possible and then I’m good to go, throw my hands a little bit and then the referee just waves the contest off. I have no idea what the referee was thinking. I’m sure I said ‘what’s that for?’
“Anyone in boxing, referees, judges, coaches, I respect them all. Especially in the amateur game, volunteers like myself, are unpaid volunteers for a sport we all love and enjoy. For that to happen it just gives the sport a bad name and people have to suffer for it.”