Marlon Starling vs. Tomas Molinares

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1988-07-29 : Marlon Starling 147 lbs fought without result Tomas Molinares 146¾ lbs by NC at 3:00 in round 6 of 12

The New York Times - 07/30/1988:

It was a night of strange endings.

In the final bout of a welterweight title doubleheader, Marlon Starling, the World Boxing Association champion, lost his crown to Tomas Molinares of Barranquilla, Colombia, when Starling was counted out after the bell in the fifth round of a 12-round bout. Joe Cortez, the referee, ruled that the right-hand punch by Molinares was in motion before the bell sounded and therefore legal.

Larry Hazzard, the New Jersey boxing commissioner, supported the referee, saying that the punch may have landed "a fraction of a second after the bell" but that Molinares's punch started before the bell.

However, when Ross Greenburg of Home Box Office, which televised the bout, replayed the sequence, the tape seemed to show that Molinares's punch started after the bell sounded.

Starling, of Hartford, dropped sideways to the canvas when he was hit by the controversial right-hand blow of Molinares. He rolled onto his back and apparently injured a leg.

As Starling was carried from the ring on a stretcher, he asked reporters if he had been counted out. When he was told he had been, he said -very much surprised - "I was?"

Starling was taken by ambulance to Atlantic City Medical Center, where a preliminary examination disclosed a slight sprain of the right ankle.

Mort Sharnik, Starling's adviser, said that his fighter would protest the decision.

The New York Times - 08/12/1988:

Larry Hazzard, the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board commissioner, yesterday voided the controversial welterweight fight in Atlantic City July 29 in which Marlon Starling, the defending champion, was knocked out by Tomas Molinares. Hazzard, who has studied tapes of the ending, ruled that Molinares's knockout punch, a right cross, was thrown after the bell ended the sixth round.

Hazzard said it was up to the World Boxing Association, which sanctioned the bout, to decide whether to reinstate Starling as champion pending the outcome of a rematch.

Hazzard said he made his ruling based on fairness, because a "single bizarre incident like this should not be the determining factor of a fight." He said he could find no fault with Referee Joe Cortez's decision, saying, "He was in charge of the bout and had made a ruling based upon his observation and judgment."

Starling went down and never attempted to get back up. Two of the three judges had Starling ahead when the knockout came, and a third judge had the fighters even, Hazzard said.

The New York Times - 08/13/1988:

The World Boxing Association said yesterday it would officially crown Tomas Molinares as world welterweight champion today despite the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board's decision to void his victory over Marlon Starling.