SPLIT DECISION DRAW! Was Nick Ball robbed in Saudi Arabia?

On Friday, March 8, Nick Ball challenged Mexican Rey Vargas for his WBC Featherweight world title in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the outcome of the fight has certainly divided opinion.

After 12 rounds of gruelling action, it seemed the British challenger would bring home the coveted WBC belt, however, the fight was ruled a split draw.

The judges’ scorecards: 114-112 Vargas / 116-110 Ball / 113-113 Draw

While the 114-112 scorecard for Rey Vargas is unquestionably dubious, the fight was much closer than the social media outrage suggests.

The early parts of the fight were worrying for Ball, with Vargas using his superior reach and height advantage extremely well.

Ball was coming forward however struggled to land anything of significance, and was visibly frustrated, throwing his opponent to the ground in round two.

However, after six rounds of Vargas dominance the fight dramatically changed course in round seven, with Ball managing to hurt the Mexican, putting him on wobbly legs after relentless pressure and huge punches.

This pressure was rewarded in round eight, with Vargas dropping to the canvas. A hugely controversial moment as it looked like Ball pushed him and landed left hook on the way down.

Vargas protested but the referee issued a count. The first 10-8 round for the Brit.

The second came in round 11, when Ball roughed Vargas up against the ropes and while evading the onslaught, was caught right on the top of the head and dropped to the canvas again.

More complaints came from the Mexican champion, arguing that he tripped over Ball’s foot.

Despite two knockdowns for Ball, it wasn’t enough to sway two of the judges on the night.

2T12H6X LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM. 10 Oct, 23. Nick Ball during Magnificent 7 Press Conference at Bloomsbury Ballroom on Tuesday, October 10, 2023 in LONDON, ENGLAND.
Credit: Taka G Wu/Alamy Live News

Boxing is a subjective sport, we see so many fights claimed as robberies when they were genuinely just close fights.

My opinion is that Ball just didn’t start quick enough. He let too many of the early rounds get away from him and struggled to work out Vargas, who was a far taller and experienced fighter than he had ever fought before.

I scored the bout 114-112 to Ball, however it was a really close fight.

Speaking post-fight, Ball said: “I had two knockdowns and obviously I was putting the pressure on the whole fight. I haven’t watched it back but I felt I was the aggressor.

I thought I did enough to win it so I am obviously disappointed.”

If the WBC don’t order a rematch, then a world title opportunity will certainly arrive elsewhere, as the Englishman has proved his ability to mix it with the best in the featherweight division.

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