In 2004, Goossen's new company, Goossen Tutor Promotions, was sued in California along with fighter James Toney over an alleged $95,000 debt to a jeweler; the complaint was settled two months later. Goossen and another firm, Top Rank, sued each other in 2005 and 2007 over fights.

Goossen and Davis, the New Jersey commissioner, both deny he had any influence over the judges. "No promoter has any input or any say in our judging choices," Davis says. Adds Goossen: "Quite frankly, I had no idea who the judges were before we went into this fight."

Indeed, Goossen says he believes the contest was a virtual tossup between Lara and Williams. "It could have gone either way," he says, adding that HBO's announcers added fuel to the fire by suggesting that Lara was pummeling Williams. "Even the most unbiased person hearing the way they were describing that fight might end up with a skewed view of what actually happened out there."

Three months after the Williams fight, Lara holds a gently cooing pigeon, pinning its glossy blue wings with his rough, scarred fingers. Then, with a quick flick of his wrists, he launches the bird into the midday glare, watching intently as it traces circles higher and higher above his suburban block.

In the wake of the first loss of his pro career, a fight that will forever be recorded as an "L" even though he actually won, Lara finds peace here, in his West Kendall garage. One wall is lined with handmade wooden cages that emit a soft melody. Lara has been a palomero, a pigeon-trainer, since he was a kid in Guantánamo. He'd steal other trainers' birds and hide them from his mom, who would snap their necks whenever she found them tucked under the eaves of their home's patchwork roof.

"I just like to watch them fly," Lara says. "I'll pull a chair up in my driveway and watch them for hours. They always come back."

If Lara feels the same rage that boxing writers and pundits have spewed since July, it doesn't show. Outside the ring, he's relaxed and soft-spoken, with a deep, resonant voice bigger than his wiry, five-foot-nine frame. Maybe it's because he realizes the stolen win has deeper implications for boxing at large than it does for his own career. "I know in my heart I won that fight, so it's not going to hold me back," Lara says.

Adds Ecksel: "The controversy will only help Lara. A lot more people know his name now than did before the Williams decision, and anyone who knows boxing knows he won that fight."

For Lara, the bogus call is just another raw motivation, lodged in his mind next to all the other painful sacrifices this brutal sport has already demanded: Erislandy Jr. and Roberlandy growing up fatherless in Havana, his mom aging alone in Guantánamo, his own glory days lost forever in a hometown ordered to forget he even existed.

Most mornings before the sun rises, he can be found on the track at Tropical Park, sprinting past casual joggers and off-season football players. He is ready for whatever comes next. "Someday I'll be able to retire, travel, and enjoy my family," Lara says. "But now, now I just have to keep fighting."

Alexandra Leon contributed to this story.

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7 comments
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ana
ana

You are talking about one fight. My husband and me we are the biggest foxing fans since 1980. Do you know how many times we have encountered the same thing?. It is countless. It happens over and over and when someone dares to approached the judges my god you can even be taken out of the place and not allowed to return. Sorry to say it is still a big mafia. The boxers are the victims with their dreams and so so many times that dream is shatter by this group of people called judges. I got into a big fight with one of them this month, a fighter gets knock out and for sevens minutes he remain in the floor unconscious and the rescue was not called I confronted him and this 80 year old man almost got physical with me.

Damon
Damon

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Damon
Damon

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C.O. Jones
C.O. Jones

My father was a professional boxer in Cuba. I grew up with boxing all around me. I can tell you that the sport was always shady, but what is happening now is simply a crime. The sport has been smeared and tarnished to a level which is losing fans by the millions every year. There was a solution proposed a long time ago. It was to have one unified international governing body and one belt per weight. The referees would be answerable to and appointed by this governing group. There would be one set of rules and certainly drug testing before every fight. If this does not happen....dig a hole...bury boxing.

This is a very good article.

 
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