LION FIGHT XXI
Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, California March 27, 2015
In the much anticipated rematch of their Super Lightweight (140 lbs.) fight on September 20, 2013 – which took place outdoors on Fremont Street in front of The “D” Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas – Tetsuya Iwashita “Yamato” came hunting for Kevin Ross in LION FIGHT 21 at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, California on Friday night, March 27, 2015. If their first fight was one of the bloodiest battles in Las Vegas Muay Thai history, the rematch promised to be monumental with Lion Fight’s Super Lightweight title in contention.
Controversy had erupted like a volcano out of the first fight’s split decision. Dissenting from the other two Nevada State Athletic Commission judges – G. Trowbridge and R. Hoyle, who’d both awarded Yamato the victory by a 48-47 margin on their score cards │ which is the same as a 3-2 win/loss differential in the round tally – Judge M. Smith saw Ross winning via a contrarian 48-47 parsing of the point spread.
Ross later admitted that he’d expected a K-1 style (no clinch, no elbows) fight from the Japanese slugger. Kevin’s practice of focusing primarily on offense, his aggressive nature and his essential lack of interest in defense – coupled with Yamato’s numerous, clean, penetrating, elbow strikes – resulted in at least seven deep lacerations to the self-styled Soul Assassin’s face and head. The lacerations were inflicted primarily in rounds 1 and 3. Tetsuya said afterwards that he’d spared Kevin’s having to cross the line from injury to insult, with what ought to have been enough for WBC’s since crowned Super Lightweight World Champion to win that non-title Lion Fight.
In rounds 2 and 4, though, Ross had been busier than Yamato. Kevin scored repeatedly in those rounds, with technically excellent round kicks. The outcome of round 5 was open to debate. Both fighters scored with punches, elbows and round kicks. Hence, the Split Decision. After the fight, both sides were loudly outspoken about whom they thought had won the fight.
Tetsuya and his entourage were seen two hours later, cashing bets at The” D” Casino cashiers cage. They were fanning stacks of newly won money and posing jubilantly for a crowd of fans, who’d gone photo op with their cell phone cameras. Yamato had been observed in the casino with only two small bandages: one on each of his skinned elbows.
At the same time, Kevin Ross reportedly received more than 37 stitches to close his head lacerations. Kevin’s partisans posted photos on anti-social media of his lacerated face and head, declaring HIM to have been the winner. The Ross photos were captioned with profane condemnations of the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s judging. They were soon removed.Both fighters were put on medical suspensions after the fight. Yamato got a 15 day suspension for a right cheek laceration. Ross was given a 30 day suspension for his multiple head lacerations.
Forcing Facts to Fit a Theory
There’s no hiding in plain sight how the 10-Point Must System shaped the first fight’s numerical outcome, which then informed the controversy on anti-social media. The Nevada State Athletic Commission requires ringside judges to utilize the 10-point Must System in the scoring of individual rounds. The winner of a round MUST be awarded 10 points, while the loser of a round MUST get 9 or less points on the score cards.
With knockdowns or penalties, say for fouls, 10-6 is the maximum differential you’re likely to see in scoring a round – making use of only five out of ten possible integers – where almost never do more than four numbers (10, 9, 8, and 7) come into play. In actual practice, the numbers 10 and 9 are used exclusively in the preponderance of round scoring. Virtually always awarding 10 points to the round’s winner and 9 points to the loser, thus, effectively reduces scoring to a win-loss tally of rounds.
Say for argument’s sake that Yamato won rounds 1 and 3 while Ross took rounds 2 and 4 on all of the score cards in their first fight. Then they’d have been tied at 38-38 going into the 5th round. Even a minor judgement call either way then would have produced a margin switch in the overall tally, as evidenced in the contrarian parsing of the 48-47 point spread for a Split Decision.Marginal differences in performance thus get quantified – like the functional equivalent of false positives – into 10-9’s on the basis of palpably subjective judgements. Such false positives make and cause mathematical imbalances and imperfections in the scores, giving rise inevitably to much of the public outcry, when the judges’ scores themselves are judged at the end of a fight.
The requirement for hair breadth winners and the lack of EVEN rounds is one of the two root causes for many scoring problems and controversies in recent years. Scoring the very close rounds 10-10 EVEN would eliminate much of the mathematical inconsistency, error, and variance between the rounds that is engineered into the circuitry of a 10-Point-Must System with Must-Have-A-Winner methodology.
“Raiders of the Lost Ark”
On an HBO fight telecast, analyst Max Kellerman once commented: “In the old days, it used to be 6 rounds RED, 3 rounds BLUE, and 3 Rounds EVEN. Not anymore”. That’s correct. The times they are a changing.
Boxing Judge Julie Lederman thus confessed in a round table discussion on Tommy Kaczmarek’s WBC “You be the Judge” training DVD for ringside judges: “We don’t have any 10-10 rounds. We’re paid to make a decision”. Virtually all ringside judges now toe that line, whether they think it is right or wrong.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission’s Adelaide Byrd concurred, when she said: “We can always find something to separate the fighters”. Never mind that splitting hairs in round scoring just increases the probability that the final tally of points will NOT quantify what just happened in the ring. How many times have you seen that happen?
It happened, for example, when Chike Lindsay fought Yodsænklai Fairtex. As always, Yodsenklai gave away the first round. Yodsenklai was tap-tapping, as if he were in Thailand, taking time to get the bets down. But in second round, he began to carve up Chike. From then on, the fight was totally one-sided. By the fifth round, there was so much of Chike's blood in the ring that it looked like a massacre.
Judges Glenn Trowbridge and John Baker scored the fight 49-46. Patrica Morse Jarman somehow scored it 48-47. Irrespective of whether Chike won more than one round, margin suppression in 10-Point Must System made THE FINAL SCORE look very close on that card, when in fact, it wasn't close at all to anyone who saw the fight. AXS-TV broadcaster Michael Schiavello criticized the judging, calling Patricia Morse Jarman a “crazy imbecile” for having such a close score.
Let the Buyer Beware
Notwithstanding Julie Lederman’s opinion on conflict resolution in judging, the 10-9 Must-Have-A-Winner obsession introduces a risk of false positive errors into the mathematical calculus. The cattle prodding of judges to pick a 10-9 winner in every round – no matter how hair-breadth close the round was – generates mathematical inconsistency when tallied at the end, based upon sometimes opaque margins within rounds. This coin toss factor is magnified even more in Muay Thai fights that only go 5 rounds.
Quantifying a fighter’s superiority in performance on a scale of numerical grading practices prevailing in the 10-Point Must System effectively obscures the computational proxy of mathematical validity that we attribute to final tallied scores. A contrarian case can be made for how they typically score the first two rounds 10-10 EVEN in Thailand, where the fighters are often just pacing each other, while bets are being laid, until the fight begins in earnest. This typically occurs in the third and fourth rounds. Thai fighters also tend to coast in the fifth round – when they’re confident of the outcome – which defaults to a 10-10 EVEN round in the scoring. After the RED or BLUE winner’s hand is held up, bets are paid off, and the next fight process starts again. The rounds that really matter, thus, are weighted accordingly. This Only-One-Result System has worked reliably for centuries.
In summary, there are two root causes for the fatal flaws inherent in the current 10-Point Must System. They are:
- The practice of COMPRESSING five different integers that are supposed to be used in scoring with the 10-Point Must System (10, 9, 8, 7, and 6). Most of the time, only the 10 and the 9 integers are used.
- The effective elimination of the 10-10 EVEN round in favor of subjective border line decisions that, coupled with 10-9’s in all rounds – regardless of the performance difference between fighters – are then tallied with all other 10-9’s at the end, as though they were all equal on a scale of forcing facts to fit a theory.
As a measuring instrument for live fight performance, the 10-Point Must Scoring System is fatally flawed with built-in mathematical inaccuracies. More than ever, now, it behooves us to correct the scoring system to make the numerical scores and scoring criteria indicative of what actually transpires in the ring.
A Stitch in Time Saves Nine
Despite the fact that Kevin Ross was seriously lacerated in the first fight, requiring a substantial amount of medical treatment, and that Yamato was comparatively uninjured, having been seen grinning from ear to ear a few hours later, it remains the case that Ross was more active in rounds 2 and 4. Most of the damage to Kevin was inflicted in rounds 1 and 3. Given the artificially compressed margins in scoring each of those rounds, controversy probably would have been averted with a more meaningful point spread where Tetsuya drew so much blood from Ross. So 10-8’s for the Japanese slugger in rounds 1 and 3 with an EVEN 10-10 in the 5th would’ve tallied an uncontroversial 48-46 Yamato victory, despite three 10’s for the self-styled Soul Assassin, where he’d earned them. If we’ve got to teach to the test, a stitch in time saves nine.
On Friday night, March 27, 2015, both fighters arrived at the Pechanga Hotel & Casino ready to settle any debate about who should’ve won Yamato vs. Ross I. The arena was reportedly sold out. Tetsuya was heard beforehand by Master Bob Chaney to state that this time he would show “no mercy to Ross”...and “will not feel sorry for Ross’s damage” and...”will not carry him” as he did in the first fight...thereby “allowing all of the controversy to happen”. He also said that he “would cut him [Kevin] up”.
Ross admitted that, given Tetsuya's K-1 experience, he’d been caught off guard by Yamato’s elbow strikes in the first fight. Kevin insisted, though, that he’d done enough to win that first fight. He believed the Nevada State Athletic Commission had no choice but to award him the rounds in which he’d inflicted more damage than Yamato. Ross said that he would be very wary of Yamato's elbows in the rematch and would prove himself worthy of victory in the ring.
Both fighters weighed in just under 140 pounds. Tetsuya Iwashita “Yamato” (33-11) is 27 years old, while Kevin Ross (30-8) is 34 years old. Kevin paraded into the arena with a motorcycle rider’s skeleton mask covering his face. He was accompanied by his trainers: Kirian Fitzgibbons, Mark Beecher, and Chaz Mulkey. Yamato entered the ring with his own trainers from the Yamato Gym in Nagoya, Japan.Tetsuya Iwashita “Yamato” (Yamato Gym Aichi in Nagoya, Japan) vs. Kevin Ross (Combat Sports Academy Dublin, CA) Lion Fight Super Lightweight Championship │ 140 lbs. │ 5x3
When referee Coban summoned them, both fighters met in the center of the ring with a mutual two glove tap. Off first bell, Tetsuya launched into five consecutive, quick, snapping, left and right, inside and outside low kicks that Kevin absorbed without checking, essentially ignoring them. After Ross threw a couple of his own round kicks, Yamato fired off two more quick, low, round kicks to Kevin’s legs that scored.
At this point, only 35 seconds into the fight, Kevin’s left leg was already showing blood red patches above the knee and on his large exposed posterior left quadriceps. Yamato continued with more low kicks and attempted a high kick that missed. Ross countered with technically sound, sit-down low kicks. Yamato did not react to the strikes. Kevin then scored a singular Teep kick to the right side of Tetsuya’s abdomen and seemed to be developing a rhythm to his offense. Yamato volleyed off more left and right low leg kicks, while Ross maintained the pace with his own low leg kicks.
Except for several pawed and pushed left jabs by both fighters, at this point, virtually no punches had been thrown by either of them. Except for Kevin’s Teep kick, all hard contact was by the legs and to the legs. Ross then threw an effective left round kick. His shin made contact with the right side of Tetsuya’s abdomen. Yamato again did not react. He continued to whip more low kicks into Kevin’s legs. Both fighters exchanged more essentially unchecked low leg kicks, while moving around the ring. Tetsuya struck Ross right of center in the abdomen with a solid left hook punch. Kevin attempted to clinch, but Yamato pulled loose and moved back into firing range.
Then, at 2:21 in the first round, Tetsuya struck Ross with a left diagonal kick to the liver area. He followed immediately with a solid straight left hand punch to that same liver area. These strikes prompted Kevin to coil and drop his right elbow while backing up. Despite maintaining his poker face and only dropping his right elbow to guard his liver area, Ross now seemed to be injured.Kevin attempted a left jab. Up until the two liver strikes, virtually all of Yamato's solid hard strikes had been directed at the abdomen level or below. But simultaneously with Kevin’s defensive left jab and lowered right elbow guard, Tetsuya followed with a high, swinging, horizontal, flat left elbow. It crashed onto the front side of Kevin’s right temple, visibly stunning and injuring him. Ross then staggered back to the nearby neutral corner with his back to the center of the ring.
Referee Coban immediately came over to check on Ross. He signaled a standing 8-count. Ross indicated that he was alright and wanted to continue. Yamato charged in. He whipped a high, thudding, left round kick into Kevin’s upper body. All of Tetsuya’s offense was now aimed high. He swarmed in, throwing a barrage of left and right elbows with punches to Kevin’s head. Ross tried to defend himself with both hands and arms up.
After several elbows connected, a laceration was visible on Kevin’s upper left forehead. Blood gushed from the wound. Tetsuya’s swarming onslaught of explosive strikes to Kevin’s head continued. Referee Coban correctly blocked Yamato away and waved both hands to stop the fight. Lacerated and bleeding but apparently lucid, Ross acknowledged the stoppage. The stunned audience watched Yamato celebrate jubilantly. It was officially over at 2:43 in the first round. Yamato had decisively won Lion Fight’s 140 lbs. Super Lightweight title without recourse to the judges.
Winner: Tetsuya Iwashita “Yamato” by TKO at 2:43 of Round 1.
“Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright, The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light; And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout, But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out.”
AXS-TV credits its biggest ratings success in Lion Fight Muay Thai broadcast history to the efforts of Paulo Tocha, who brought together USMTA and WMC to organize this epic event. Paulo promoted in Thailand at Pattaya Threpasit Stadium and Pattaya Fairtex Stadium. He also worked inside Thailand’s prison system and was the first American to promote Friday night fights at Lumpinee Stadium. (For more on Paulo Tocha, see “From Desperation to Inspiration: Paulo Tocha” in Muay Thaimes®, Summer of 2010, Vol. IV, No. 2, pp. 69-79)
AXS-TV broadcasts the Lion Fight Muay Thai events LIVE on selected Friday evenings with announcers Michael Schiavello and Pat Miletech. Unlike difficult Friday evenings in Las Vegas -- drawing limited numbers of locals, while tourists and visitors from California and around the country are still arriving at various times throughout the evening – north San Diego County apparently has abundant volumes of fans willing and able to fill the Muay Thai fight arena.
For in-depth coverage of Tiffany Van Soest vs. Chajmaa Bellekhal, Malaipet Sasiprapa vs. Ben Yelle, Victor Saravia vs. Sam Poulton, Josh Shepard vs. Jose Lopez and Nick Chasteen vs. Tony Fausto at Lion Fight XXI download the Club Muay Thaimes app:CLICK HERE for Bennie E. Palmore II’s entire Lion Fight Photo Gallery. Steve Ferdman’s Bauzen Photo Gallery is also a CLICK AWAY. See Ray Kasprowicz’s Photo Gallery HERE.