Boxing: Eastman 'shocked' as judges back Joppy

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The Independent Online

Howard Eastman claimed that he was wrongly denied a world title by the judges at the Mandalay Resort here on Saturday night. The 30-year-old Briton lost a majority decision to William Joppy in their bout for the vacant World Boxing Association middleweight title.

Eastman dropped Joppy to his knees with two right hands with 10 seconds remaining of the final round, but it was not enough to persuade the three ringside judges, who scored 113-113, 115-112 and 114-112 against him.

"I knew I was winning the fight and I thought the knockdown sealed the fight," Eastman said. "When the judges put Joppy as the winner I was shocked, but these things can only happen in boxing. I've seen it happen to other fighters in the past so I'm not so surprised about it. I'll bounce right back."

Eastman looked a harder puncher than Joppy, who was knocked out by Felix Trinidad in May, and even found the time for some showboating in the eighth round. He stood still in the centre of the ring, encouraging the retreating Joppy to come and fight, and performed his own version of the Ali shuffle.

He thought that neither his audacity nor his habit of fighting in spurts should have affected the verdict, which was greeted by boos. He said: "Boxing is an entertaining sport which needs flamboyant characters. Judges should appreciate a character who can do things like that."

Oliver McCall knocked out Britain's Henry Akinwande with 47 seconds left of their 10-round bout to continue his recuperation from his 1997 world title failure against Lennox Lewis.

McCall was behind on all three of the judges' scorecards when he came up with a stabbing right hand to drop Akinwande to the canvas.

McCall, who burst into tears when he watched a repeat of the knock-out on the big screens at the top of the arena, said: "It doesn't matter who I fight next because I'm going to be in better shape and I'm back."

McCall is still dogged by personal problems out of the ring and did not arrive here until Thursday in order to avoid violating the conditions of his parole after being convicted of a drugs offence.

Since his collapse against Lewis he has won 11 times and the scalp of Akinwande, who had his own moment of notoriety against Lewis in 1997 when he hugged his way to a disqualification, will propel him back into the ranks of those fighters who can be considered serious world title contenders.