Asked about international judging a few days ago, world amateur batamweight champion Floyd Favors said, "I do what I have to do and leave it up to the judges. I have won some close decisions that went my way when my chances might not have looked so good."
Tonight the Capitol Heights, Md., resident could add one more to that list. He received a 3-2 decision over Juan Molina of Puerto Rico in the quarterfinals of the Pan American Games, a verdict that brought a capacity crowd at Parque Naciones Unidas to its feet in anger.
Leaving the ring, Molina yanked off his shirt and thrww it in disgust. Instead of a smooth path toward what looked like a gold medal, Molina will go home with nothing except memories of a victory over Cuba's Luis Delis and a defeat that will be difficult to accept.
Molina decked Favors with a overhand right in the first round. And Favors was penalized a point in the second for repeatedly grabbing Molina behind the neck. That seemingly left Favors in a knockout-or-lose situation and, although he clearly outclassed Molina in the third round, the Puerto Rican never was in trouble.
When Favors excecuted the traditional bows to the crowd after the fight, he was showered with boos. But that was nothing compared to the reaction to the decision.
Judges from Canada, Colombia and Brazil each voted for Favors by one point. A Dominican judge chose Molina by one point, a Jamaican judge by two.
Favors remained calm despite the verbal abuse and said later, "I thought I pulled it out. Between the second and third round my corner was telling me I needed to take it to him and I threw as many combinations as I could.
"I did my best and I felt in my heart that I did everything needed to get the decision. There was no reason for me to fear the decision.
"I figured I was behind because of the knockdown and warning. But he was holding my hands and even though the ref didn't see it, it was up to the judges to decide who was at fault."
The Puerto Rican declined to use a replica of the U.S. headgear, even with "USA" taped out, so Favors finally switched to a plain one. The argument might have had something to do with Favors' slow start.
"My legs had gome to sleep during the wait," Favors said. "I don't like to stand around in the ring a long time."
As it developed, that early controversy was nothing compared to what would come later.
The featherweight bout that followed did nothing to calm the crowd. There was little action as U.S. boxer Bernard Gray earned a 5-0 decision over Joe Walters of Jamaica and at the finish, the fans chanted down the last seconds, then half cheered because it was over while half booed.
At night's end, regardless of how they did it, all 11 U.S. boxers remained in the race for the gold.
Molina, who jumped for joy when Favors went down and smiled broadly while he awaited the decision, was still distraught a half-hour later.
"He was losing points and I was the winner," Molina said through an interpreter. "I'm very, very sad. I feel sick, because my brother Jose was Pan American champion (light middleweight) in 1979 and I wanted to win, too."
Of the knockdown, Favors said, "I was throwing a jab and I lowered my jab and he countered with an overhand right. It knocked me down and it was a nice clean shot, but once I got up I was all right."
The bout had more than enough controversy before it began. The U.S. boxers are using fancy red, white and blue headgear with "USA" on the front. The headgear had been questioned earlier but cleared as recently as Friday night.
However, Puerto Rican officials said Molina would not compete unless Favors changed his headgear. For 15 minutes, the argument raged while the fighters sat in their corners and the crowd showed its unhappiness.