Unraveling Stevie Sparks vs. Montana Love DQ Controversy

Editorial By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent

Cleveland, Ohio (November 14th, 2022)– On Saturday evening, November 12, 2022, at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, in Cleveland, Ohio, the televised DAZN main event ended in controversy when referee David Fields disqualified undefeated junior welterweight contender Montana Love, The disqualification was issued in the sixth round after Fields attempted to break up a clinch in a corner and was unsuccessful, resulting in Montana aggressively back flipping Sparks over the ropes, who fortunately landed on his feet.

Montana, now 18-1-1 with nine knockouts, Cleveland, Ohio, down briefly from a power shot to the chin in the second round, battled evenly with Spark, 16-2 with 14 knockouts, Toowoomba, Australia as a counterpuncher with good foot movement. Sparks did best when he cut off the ring and caught Love along the ropes, forcing Love to fight his way out. Sparks appeared to be slightly ahead, owing to the 10-8 round for the flash knockdown of Love in round two.

The controversy was around just after the start of round six. As the fighters battled in center ring, where Love likes to mix it best, there was an accidental clash of heads. Blood streamed down from the corner of Love’s left eye. The ringside doctor questioned Love, who appeared coherent and still in top condition, but stated he was having trouble seeing out of the eye. The doctor, pawing at the blood streaming from the corner of Love’s left eye with a piece of gauze, waited an extra minute. Then the doctor stated he was going to watch the bout carefully from that point forward, and would stop it if Love took one more hit on the corner of the left eye where the blood was flowing profusely nonstop.

In this reporter’s view, the error was made by the ringside doctor. Given the bout was beyond the fourth round, the bout should have gone to the cards, and Sparks would have been the winner. The doctor wanted to give Montana Love another chance. The issue here was the doctor made a loud statement “One more hit on the injured area of the left eye, and I’ll have to stop it” which resulted in an in-the-ring frenzy when the fight resumed.

Spark went crazy, swinging wildly and attacking Love’s left eye. First Spark had Love’s head in an arm grab, then Love had Spark in a head in an arm grab as the two fighters went sailing across the ring in a boxing and wrestling combination tussle. The doctor caused frantic chaos inside the ring with his statement. Love was fighting for his career and his life as Spark was determined to unload everything nonstop and empty his guns. The ending scene was reminiscent of Bernard Hopkins versus Joe Smith Jr., and Oleg Maskaev versus Hasim Rahman. To see a fighter flipped over backward over the ropes in a main event is televised insanity. If Sparks had cracked his head open, it could have been fatal.

David Fields could consider the two fighters were tangled but too wild at that point in motion to attempt a break. Also, Love was tangled in a headlock and could have been fighting to get out of it and wrestle free. Did Fields inadvertently contribute to the backflip of Spark? Did Love inadvertently cause the backflip trying to get his head free? The ringside doctor, by his action and statements, triggered the sudden ring madness in the seconds which followed where the mad ending played out.

The desperate situation Montana Love was placed in by the referee parallels another ring war, the late Marvelous Marvin Hagler in the first round against Thomas ‘Hitman’ Hearns, who fractured his right hand causing a horrific bloody forecut on Hagler which bled copiously. This situation, when the referee let the bout continue, put Hagler in a desperate scenario. It was do or die for Hagler, or lose his title, if the bout was soon stopped. Two uppercuts in the third round from Hagler ultimately finished Hearns in the most action- packed crazy eight minutes in boxing history.

Love was in a do or die situation, and sparks flew, literally Steve Spark flew at Love to bash his bloody eye to pieces. One more hit and he would get the stoppage, so it was bombs away. There are no precise answers here, except to say the madness leading to the result is worthy of an appeal, a No Contest ruling, and a certain rematch. Love will demand a rematch. For Stevie Spark and Montana Love, sparks flew, and there was no love lost in the most bizarre fight of the month of November 2022, but for its Ripley’s Believe It or Not insane ending. Spark walked away, and both fighters will live to see another day. Spark was lucky. Love’s luck, and 19 bouts unbeaten streak, ran out in his hometown of Cleveland on this occasion. Only one word can describe the televised ending to this bout. Nuts. If you are going to stop a bout, stop the bout. This was not a championship bout.