Ryan Burnett’s split decision win over Briton Lee Haskins for the world bantamweight title in Belfast on Saturday was scored incorrectly and should have been an unanimous win, the International Boxing Federation (IBF) confirmed on Tuesday.
The Northern Irishman knocked down defending champion Haskins in the sixth and 11th rounds with two of the three judges handing him favourable scorecards of 119-107, but there was widespread disbelief when the last judge, American Clark Sammartino, scored him losing 118-108.
Burnett’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, had already called for an investigation into the decision after the fight and the IBF have now announced that Sammartino had made an error.
“On Saturday, the IBF bantamweight bout between Lee Haskins and Ryan Burnett held at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, Ireland was ruled a split decision victory for Burnett as a result of an error with the scorecards,” the IBF said in a statement.
“Due to this error … the bout was declared a split decision when it should have been ruled a unanimous decision in favour of Burnett. An error of this nature and at this level of the sport should not have occurred.
“The IBF remains committed to recommending qualified and reliable officials to work its sanctioned bouts, and is fully intent on deterring a situation such as this one from occurring again in the future.”
After the fight, Hearn said: “Thankfully we got the decision, but when we looked at the scorecards we realised that the judge in question [Sammartino] had actually scored the fight the wrong way round.
“We knew this by the 10-8 rounds and luckily we had those 10-8 rounds, because otherwise there is not necessarily a way of telling. He scored the two 10-8 rounds to the guy who had been knocked down, so again quite amusing at the time, because we got the win, but [it’s] actually very serious.”
The British Boxing Board of Control general secretary Robert Smith was in Belfast for the fight and made his views clear afterwards. “I’ve certainly made my thoughts felt to the supervisor of the IBF, who is in agreement with me,” he told Sky Sports. “I can tell you one thing – [Sammartino] will not be coming back to this country, and I will make sure the IBF are told of that.
“There’s only one winner tonight, and I think Mr Sammartino and Mr Haskins will understand that. It’s just disappointing. It was a good fight and this has kind of ruined it a little bit.”