Thursday, February 16, 2012
Updated: February 17, 10:24 AM ET
IBF bans boxer Luis Lazarte
By Dan Rafael
The IBF on Thursday banned former junior flyweight titlist Luis Lazarte from participating in any fight the organization is associated with following Lazarte's actions during a bout last Friday, when he threatened the referee and helped spark an ugly riot during which his opponent was assaulted.
Johnriel Casimero of the Philippines stopped Lazarte in the 10th round in Mar del Plata, Argentina, Lazarte's home country, to win the IBF's vacant interim 108-pound world title. However, Lazarte, who repeatedly fouled Casimero with head-butts, punches below the belt, and shots behind the head, and bit him at least twice, threatened referee Eddie Claudio in the sixth round.
After Claudio docked a point from Lazarte for blatant punches behind Casimero's head in the sixth round, Lazarte removed his mouthpiece and can clearly be heard (in comments translated from Spanish on the broadcast of Argentine network TyC) saying to Claudio, "Do you want to make it out of here alive?"
IBF president Daryl Peoples wrote to Osvaldo Bisbal, the president of the Argentina Boxing Federation, to inform him of the decision.
"There is one measure that we are taking into our own hands and that we will enforce," Peoples wrote. "As a result of Luis Lazarte threatening the life of referee Eddie Claudio while receiving a points deduction in the sixth round, Lazarte is banned from being involved in any capacity in any IBF-related fight that takes place in Argentina or around the world.
"I believe that I do not have to express to you that Lazarte's threat to Claudio, which can be clearly heard in the telecast, is completely unacceptable, should not be taken lightly and merits punishment. Behavior of this nature by a fighter is not and will not be tolerated by the IBF."
Casimero scored two knockdowns in the ninth round and was battering Lazarte in the 10th round when Claudio stepped in to halt the fight. As he was stopping the bout, spectators at ringside began throwing debris into the ring and eventually it became a full-scale riot -- the worst boxing has seen since one erupted at New York's Madison Square Garden in 1996 after heavyweight Andrew Golota was disqualified for repeatedly hitting Riddick Bowe below the belt in the first of their two fights.
During the riot, spectators climbed into the ring, and chairs and bottles were thrown into the ring, hitting multiple people. Casimero (16-2, 10 KOs) was assaulted; one of his corner men, Sean Gibbons, was hit in the head and suffered a broken rib; and Claudio was hit and needed stitches in his lip.
Peoples told Bisbal he needed to investigate the incident, even though Bisbal has reportedly been reluctant to do so.
"I take this opportunity to address you in regards to the deplorable acts of violence that transpired after the Lazarte-Casimero bout," Peoples wrote. "This type of violence has no place in a boxing match, or any sporting event for that matter, as it completely goes against the grain of what competition is about. Surely you agree to that. It is important that all of us in the boxing community, because this act in not exclusive to Argentina, utilize this experience as one to learn from and develop better ways to protect the perimeter around the ring and the people that are in it, while also [ensuring] the safety of all those attending a boxing match.
"Furthermore, I would like to know what steps have been taken with the local police department to bring those individuals that entered the ring and assaulted Mr. Casimero and his camp to justice. There are a number of individuals that can likely be identified in the video recording of the fight and who should be investigated through the proper legal channels. I expect that you will do what you can to further inform me on this matter."
The IBF's ban on Lazarte (49-11-2, 18 KOs), who has a history of breaking rules during his fights -- including biting multiple opponents -- may be moot. He is 40 and said after the fight he is considering retirement.
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.