• Steve Bunce

Ringside blagger could prompt Peterson travesty

Steve Bunce January 10, 2012

The 'mystery man' at ringside in the Amir Khan v Lamont Peterson fight, Mustafa Ameen, is an old-fashioned chancer. He blagged his way into a position next to a supervisor - but he had no influence; he didn't change anything. He wasn't close enough to the judges, all he could see was one of the master cards.

The problem for Peterson is that Ameen is friendly with his people: it has been said that he works with Barry Hunter, Peterson's trainer, and my gut feeling is that he may have been in the dressing room with Peterson before the bout.

So Ameen's presence at ringside, an illegal presence in what should be a sterile area, will lead to a rematch - and could mean Peterson being stripped of his IBF and WBA light-welterweight titles. That would be a travesty, because if Peterson is a challenger, he will not get as much money for a rematch as he would if he was champion.

Ameen has cleared a path for Khan: without him, there's possibly no rematch, possibly no chance of a no contest being declared. Without him, Peterson might be looking at a fight with someone else, like Tim Bradley - or even Manny Pacquiao.

How did Ameen get so close to the action? Well, for starters, the fight took place in Washington, a place still wet behind the ears when it comes to world title contests. In Las Vegas or London, he would have been thrown out of the ringside area within five minutes. But for six rounds in Washington he didn't stop talking to the WBA supervisor, having ingratiated himself by saying, according to Khan's people, that he was affiliated to the IBF.

None of the Khan team - his promoter, father and manager - noticed Ameen, because they were all engrossed in the action involving their man. But at some point over Xmas, someone in (or close to) that group has had a Eureka moment, reviewed the tapes and spotted Ameen.

What is staggering is that after the fight, no-one noticed Ameen was in the ring celebrating with Peterson's people. In one picture, you can see that Asif Vali, Khan's business manager, is about to shake Ameen's hand. Incredible.

The IBF initially seemed reluctant to reveal Ameen's identity - it should have said, "We know who he is, he's a guy who often works for us", then reassured people that it doesn't matter if he sits at ringside, because he can't influence the fight. The IBF should have held its hands up from scratch.

People are talking about the WBA and the IBF like they're massive companies like Ford - they're not. They've got a couple of full-time staff, and then round the globe each year they probably use hundreds of other people in minor roles, like supervisors.

Ameen has worked in some capacity for the IBF - we know that because the Irish boxer Andy Lee has said as much. But it could have been during an IBF eliminator, an IBF inter-continental title fight. He's not a mover and shaker, he's not the general secretary.

But his presence could cost Peterson a lot of cash - and that is very, very wrong.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.