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Betting fiasco may lead to suit

By Joaquin Henson
Fri, 09 Nov 2018

An English betting establishment called Betfred has refused to pay out a 12-to-1 wager because newly-crowned WBA bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire’s family put money down on a knockout win over Ryan Burnett in Glasgow last weekend.

Donaire’s wife Rachel and father-in-law Gerry Marcial are up in arms especially since she was paid out by another betting station. The bets weren’t astronomical. In total, they bet the equivalent of about $1,840 in a pool with conditioning coach Mike Bazzel and security staffer Brian Singer. Donaire himself didn’t place a bet because that’s not allowed. Of the amount that was wagered, $730 remains unpaid.

The odds installed Donaire a 6-1 underdog to win and a bigger 12-1 underdog to score a knockout. One betting station accepted a $590 wager for a knockout win but split the payout on odds of 12-to-1 and 10-to-1. Betfred declined to accept bets of more than $330 each.

There is no rule prohibiting anyone to bet on a bout except the involved fighters. Marcial said a Betfred agent reasoned that the payout couldn’t be made to Donaire’s wife because of a British Boxing Board of Control (BBB of C) restriction. But Rachel brushed off the argument, citing a provision in the BBB of C that disallows only the involved fighters. “The restriction doesn’t affect her because she’s not stepping into the ring,” said Marcial. “How come the other betting station paid out with no problem? This is illegal and them trying to bully us around and discriminate against us isn’t right. If I lost my bet, could I have gone back and asked for my money back because I’m Nonito’s father-in-law?”

The issue hasn’t been ignored by the English press. Writer Niall Doran of Boxing News and Views called it “one of the biggest PR disasters facing a bookmaking company in sometime, at least that I can think of.” Former English pro fighter and a Member of the Order of the British Empire Jane Couch reacted to the fiasco and tweeted, “Pay the fella ffs Betfred.” WBO interim featherweight champion Carl Frampton, who beat Donaire in Belfast last April, tweeted, “Pay the man! Disgraceful from Betfred.”

Marcial said there were two betting stations across the street from the hotel where Donaire’s team was billeted. “I was confident Nonito would score a knockout,” he said. “During the weigh-in, I noticed Burnett’s hips looked really small but his chest was big. I thought he was too thin, probably dehydrated from making weight. Nonito, on the other hand, looked good. His chest and hips were the right size for a bantamweight. I knew Burnett’s downfall would be a body shot.”

Marcial left Glasgow earlier than Donaire’s team because of work in Las Vegas and asked his daughter to pick up his winnings. Betfred wouldn’t pay out. For a betting company that has over 1,650 outlets and stations in 51 race courses all over the UK, it’s ridiculous to hold out on legitimate bettors. Betfred has been around since 1967 and surely, wouldn’t risk tainting its reputation by declining a payout.

“It’s been over four days since we should’ve been paid,” said Marcial in a phone call from his Las Vegas home yesterday. “I’ve reached out to Betfred through its website and an agent told me my case will be brought up to upper management. Now, I’m told we’ll be paid and they’ve asked for my email address. Will they wire the money? When will it be sent? At the moment, nothing is final. If they don’t pay out, we’ll sue and maybe even if they pay out, we’ll sue for damages because of this hassle and the discrimination. We’ll study what’s our best option.”

Marcial said boxing legend Kenny Adams, a former US Olympic coach, was heaven-sent. “Nonito’s trainer Brandon Woods got sick and couldn’t go to Glasgow so his mentor Kenny took over,” he said. “Brandon learned everything he knows about boxing from Kenny. They think alike. So it was no adjustment for Nonito to switch to Kenny. Besides, Kenny was in Nonito’s training camp from Day 1 and one of his fighters DeeJay Kriel, was a sparring partner.”

Marcial said Burnett couldn’t have suffered a slipped disc like what German promoter Kalle Sauerland speculated. “With a slipped disc, you couldn’t walk,” he said. “It was in the first round when Nonito hit him twice in the rib cage and I saw Burnett wince and lower his hands to protect his body. Burnett still kept attacking but the pain probably got worse. He could’ve torn or pulled a muscle or suffered a cracked rib but that was no slipped disc.”

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