Crossing the Line

roberto duran14.03.07 - by Ted Sares: Sometimes a fight becomes a beating. When that happens, someone needs to step in and stop it before it becomes something worse. On December 10, 1994, Jorge "Locomotora” Castro met tough John David Jackson for the WBA Middleweight Title in Monterrey, Mexico. The fight, named Ring Magazine’s Fight of the Year, featured one of the most dramatic endings in ring history. Castro was trailing badly on all three scorecards (71-80, 73-80 and 74-79). One eye was closed and the other was half closed. He was bleeding and pinned against the ropes taking wicked shots and combos.

Famed referee Stanley Christodoulou positioned himself to stop the fight and started to raise his hands to signal the stoppage, but then Castro landed a hard right hand on Jackson's chin and Jackson went down.

All of a sudden, instead of stopping the fight in Jackson's favor, Christodoulou began counting out Jackson, but John David managed to get up. He suffered one more savage knockdown and "Locomotora” completed the comeback and retained his title with decisive knockout in the ninth round. Clearly, this had been one of the most amazing, if unlikeliest, turnarounds in boxing history.

However, the Castro classic is just that, a classic, and is a one-in-several-thousand type of fight. The referee was about to save him, just as Graham Earl’s corner tried to do in his war with Michael Katsidis in February, but Referee Mickey Vann threw the towel back at the corner. Earl then promptly floored the Aussie before he later was forced to retire in his corner.

These are the exceptions. Quiles and then Burgos seem to be the rule.

Certain people are placed in charge of protecting a boxer from undue savagery. The ringside physician, the referee, members of the state boxing commission if they are present (Larry Hazzard always does this well), and, of course, a fighter’s corner (trainer, second and cut man). Once a fighter crawls through the ropes, he puts his well-being in their hands. In a very real sense, his life depends on them. Few fighters will do what Acelino Fietas did against Diego Corrales. When Primo Canera did it against Max Baer, he had been decked eleven times. Sure, championship belts may be at stake, but nothing should be more important than the health and welfare of a boxer, nothing.

Recently, Nate Campbell did some things to Ricky Quiles that were horrific to watch. In the 10th round, he hurt Quiles with three consecutive hard rights to the head. As the punches rained down, Ricky was barely able to remain upright. Nate then went downstairs and nailed rocked Quiles with a series of withering body shots that had his opponent gasping and spinning away in full retreat. Campbell relentlessly unloaded still another volley of savage body shots. He had Ricky wobbling across the ring with only the ropes to keep him up. At the end of that malefic round, Quiles' corner or the referee should have rescued him from himself, because he was not about to be Acelino Frietas.

Ricky Quiles became nothing more than target practice for the rest of this unnecessary slaughter. Allowing it to continue proved absolutely nothing and did no one any good. If anything, it probably ended the veteran's career.

Allowing a 49 year old 313 pound “Fighting Detective,” Joe Siciliano, fight a 417 pound Butterbean borders on legalized murder. Joe has no technical skills, a 4-4- record and three of his losses have come by way of first round ko; the other occurred in the second round. Two of his wins have come against Miguel Ortiz, 0-2. He quit fighting in 2001 and then resumed in 2006 He should not be licensed to fight. Against the Bean, he was down at least 3 times and took a bad beating getting hit with molar rattling shots. He could well have been killed in the ring. Why was this allowed?

When a fight crosses the line and becomes a beating, someone needs to step in. Boxing aficionados will recall that when Roberto Duran was giving Davey Moore a beating and was on the verge of perpetrating something even worse, the referee, Ernesto Magana, got a case of decision paralysis. That one was the exemplar for crossing the line.

The following is taken from a June 27, 1983 piece entitled, “He That Was Lost Has Been Found,” by William Nack. Available online from:

“….At ringside, Moore's mother and girlfriend had fainted, slumping in their seats, and now there were cries to stop the bloodbath. But the referee, Ernesto Magaña of Mexico, appeared blind to what was going on. He kept looking at Moore's closed eye, as if waiting for it to fall out before he would stop the fight. Leave it to the WBA to hire a turkey to run a cockfight. That is what it had become, and Duran had all the talons.

"Finish him off now," Duran's trainer, Nestor Quiñones, told him before the eighth. It took Duran two minutes and two seconds to convince Moore's trainer, Leon Washington, to throw a blood-spattered white towel of surrender into the ring. If Magaña saw it, he ignored it. Finally, Jay Edson, a Top Rank representative, clambered into the ring and called a halt to the proceedings. "The worst ref I've looked at for a long time," said Duran's former trainer, 83-year-old Ray Arcel….”

“Referee, stop the fight, referee, stop the Fight.” Teddy Atlas

Article posted on 15.03.2007

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