By Vitali Shaposhnikov: Since Floyd Mayweather Jr. (42-0-0) knocked out Victor Ortiz (29-3-2), voices of criticism by professionals as well as boxing fans have been abundant around every corner. Some say that Floyd Mayweather Jr. won via an illegal cheap-shot, being the dirty undeserving fighter that he is. Others agree that it was as cheap-shot, but a legal one nonetheless, making Floyd a legitimate winner no questions asked.
There are also those that believe that Victor is the one to blame for his inability to follow the ancient self defense rule, as well as his inexperience and excessive ”love” towards Floyd after landing a very obvious and damaging head-butt. The drama is still at its peak, and will be discussed for a very long time to come.
What is not surprising is the amount of criticism that Joe Cortez received for his actions during the fight, causing this freak-show of an ending. In my personal opinion, after re-watching the fight numerous times, Cortez did absolutely nothing wrong at that moment in time; he signaled the commencement of the fight, and made a very well known and recognized hand gesture inviting both fighters to continue. Still, many blame him for the result, and say the fight would have had a very different outcome had he not “screwed it up.”
Since then, the ‘referee’ tropics have flooded forums and discussions, where boxing fans voice their opinions and future preferences. So, what is a boxing referee’s job? A referee give instructions to both men before the bout, determines when to start or stop a count when a fighter is down or hurt, signals when the round has ended, determines when a foul has been committed and what to do about it, and decides whether the fighter is in serious danger despite still standing and attempting to fight back. Essentially, the role of a referee is very important and crucial in the well being of both fighters. Having said all that, there are choices.
If the Mayweather Jr. vs. Pacquiao fight ever comes to fruition, what referee would you like to be in charge?
1) Joe Cortez: He has refereed over 170 world title bouts, among which figure the first Oscar De La Hoya-Julio César Chávez meeting, Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe’s first title fight and the match that saw 45-year-old George Foreman become the oldest World Heavyweight Champion in history. Cortez still referees major boxing events, and his catchphrase during pre-fight instructions, “(I am) fair but firm!” (also said as “I’m fair but I’m firm!”) is now a copyrighted trademark. He has been accused of being too obtrusive in his later career, especially for a decision to disqualify Humberto Soto for hitting Francisco Lorenzo with a grazing punch after a knockdown. He has also been accused for failing to see Floyd Mayweather knock down Victor Ortiz in a fight that has aroused much controversy with boxing fans. In 2011, Cortez was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame along with Mike Tyson, Julio Cesar Chavez, and Kostya Tszyu. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Cortez)
2) Kenny Bayless: American professional boxing referee from Nevada best known for having refereed the superfights Manny Pacquiao vs. Ricky Hatton, Oscar de la Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather,Ricky Hatton vs. Paulie Malignaggi, Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito, and Manny Pacquiao vs. Miguel Cotto. Boxingconfidential com claims: “There’s only one referee that should be utilized in Las Vegas super-bouts and his name is Kenny Bayless. Every time I’ve seen Mr. Bayless referee a fight, I’ve seen him always control the bout with the highest degree of fairness, firmness, and accuracy.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenny_Bayless)
3) Steve Smoger: He works exclusively on the East Coast, and is often featured as the referee in world title or major fights taking place at East Coast venues. When Smoger is not refereeing fights, he serves as a Municipal Court Judge in Atlantic City, as well as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force Reserves. Worked Vernon Forrest vs. Shane Mosley, Bernard Hopkins vs. Felix Trinidad, Kelly Pavlik vs. Jemain Taylor, and Roy Jones vs. Bernard Hopkins, and many more. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Smoger)
4) Pat Russell: Russell has been the referee in such notable bouts as De La Hoya-Mosley I, Vasquez-Marquez III, Barrera-Mc Kinney (first HBO Boxing After Dark telecast), Toney-Littles, Barrera-Ayala and dozens of other title fights. He has officiated hundreds of fights throughout the United States and the world. He refereed in all three seasons of The Contender reality boxing series and played a referee in the movie Ali and on several TV shows. He was honored as referee of the year twice (2008, 2009). “My love for boxing extends into all areas,” said Pat” I am a board member of the Community Youth Athletic Center in National City, CA. This program is renowned for its effective work with at-risk youths through the sport of boxing.” (http://www.fightnews.com/Boxing/meet-pat-russell-92566)
5) Tony Weeks: Tony Weeks is a boxing referee who has worked for both the Arizona and Nevada (currently) State Athletic Commissions. Weeks has also worked as a referee for the WBA and IBF in championship bouts outside of Nevada. (http://boxrec.com/media/index.php/Tony_Weeks)
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For my part, I don’t have any issues and would have absolutely no objection to Joe Cortez refereeing their bout. If he is not an option, than Kenny Bayelss is a flawless referee, and would most definitely satisfy most boxing fans and officials.
On a side note, after watching Floyd’s performance, for as long as it lasted, did any of you see him being slower, weaker, less concentrated than ever before? Did you think he was still the same old Floyd Mayweather Jr., or is time catching up with him? In other words, did you notice any obvious new weaknesses in Floyd?
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