(Mustafa Ameen, at right, mystery manning)
The more the so-called "mystery man" talks, the more confusing it gets, the question of "what it was he was doing at the Amir Khan vs. Lamont Peterson fight in December." Ever since the day he popped up into boxing's richly-populated scandalosphere -- where scandals real and imagined flourish -- he's done very little to make the scandal look more imagined, less real. Just on Wednesday, he said what he was doing with by WBA supervisor Michael Welsh was correcting "error(s)" in his math when tabulating scores for the junior welterweight clash.
Why does some dude who is affiliated with a different sanctioning gang outfit -- the IBF -- need to be correcting the scoring of some other organization's official?
And then also Wednesday, for what seems like no apparent good reason, Golden Boy, Khan's promoter, canceled its appeal of the result with the IBF.
This has gotten huge attention overseas, and even a little mainstream attention here in the United States on ESPN and the like. So what do we know now about this whole funky situation, and what don't we?
Initial revelation of identity. We learned, long ago, that this mystery man was Mustafa Ameen. That is not to be confused with Malika Ameen, a "cheftestant" on "Top Chef: Just Desserts."
Who is Mustafa Ameen? According to the IBF, he IS affiliated with the IBF, contrary to what Khan trainer Freddie Roach said, although maybe Roach is kind of right, since he's not an "official" so much as he's a volunteer, kinda. He also is the "business manager" of Michael Hunter, an amateur heavyweight. Hey, amateurs with a business manager! The NCAA would go crazy for that one. Also, according to Roach, Roach kicked him out of the gym at the U.S. Olympic Center for trying to talk to other people's fighters.
Public remarks. Publicly, Ameen has said a few major things. The thing he said today was that he was just helping out Welch, who was under the weather. He said that he instructed Welch that his math was off on some of the rounds and the scoring, that "nine, nine and nine... is 27 all day." Except for, you know, that Ameen wasn't exactly sure what the scores he corrected were. So all that certainty on what nine times three is, at the various times of day that it is 27 (i.e. all of the times), is null and void. D'oh.
We know that he says he is a Muslim, because he is resentful toward the notion that he would sabotage his "Muslim brother" Khan. We know that he says he's been apologized to by Olympic types over the Roach gym eviction. We know that Hunter is very, very grateful to him for his math help, according to Ameen. Or "maths," as the Brits say. Ameen buzzes like a fridge.
Appeals, unanswered questions and what's next. What we don't know is what Welch says according to Welch about whether he's grateful for the math help; Khan business manager Asif Vali thinks that Welch "looked frightened." We also don't know why 1. Ameen was "seen picking up a yellow scoring slip" or 2. Why he seems to be screwing around with Welch at various points throughout the fight as opposed to that time he corrected him about what nine plus nine plus nine is.
Then there's the whole question of whether Welch even matters. According to Golden Boy, there were discrepancies between the scorecards of the WBA supervisor and IBF supervisor, and (Golden Boy claims) the WBA supervistor had the scores as a draw. But how does that fit in with a conspiracy, if the WBA scores that Ameen mucked about with actually help Khan? And anyway, the D.C. commission's results are official, and they had Peterson winning.
We also won't know what the IBF makes of all this, because Golden Boy pulled its appeal Wednesday. Why? It said because the idea was to move on to focus on Khan's next fight, but since Peterson is the #1 choice, it seems like they'd be better off having the IBF AND the WBA order rematches. In another spot, they said they were concerned that the IBF wasn't going to have enough involved officials at its hearing. So? Still worth trying. Doesn't keep you from focusing on Khan's next fight -- unless the idea is that you HOPE Peterson drops his WBA belt, then you get to try to pick that up against someone less formidable. Or maybe they were convinced the IBF would sweep it all under the rug, another thing they claimed. The big idea is totally not clear.
We know that the WBA has ordered a rematch, but that was before it ever had a hearing. So some of the things we might have learned from WBA and IBF hearings, we won't learn no mo.
One thing that doesn't bother me: Of all the fishiness afoot here, I'm least concerned about Ameen posing with Peterson after the victory. In the most innocent scenario here, Ameen, if nothing else, seems to want to be a part of the boxing scene. If he's an IBF official/volunteer who's gotten himself a ringside credential, and Peterson is the one who wins the belt, well, he's gonna stand next to Peterson.
All in all, there's nothing here that amounts to a smoking gun. There's nothing here that even really points to a motive. It's just a bunch of weirdness, and that might be the extent of it, or it might not. With the WBA not holding a hearing and the IBF appeal dropped, all we'll ever know, at best, is what Ameen says publicly and anything reporters are able to get out of the organizations and officials involved. You'll probably be drumming your fingers indefinitely, waiting for that.
What we can take away from this is that it makes no sense that some semi-random dude was able to muck about with fight officials without being warned off. That's a bit f'ed up. But I guess if you want to entrust incompetent, selfish organizations like the IBF and WBA to be able to truly manage boxing, you're gonna be on a deserted island, struggling to get nourishment out of the coconut supply like Tom Hanks in "Castaway."
Also, boxing is weird, as a whole. But this is weird even FOR boxing.
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