Coleslaw on the Side

By Robert Ecksel on March 6, 2014
Coleslaw on the Side
“If Dickie Cole had everyone in his pocket, don't you think I would work every main event?”


In times of trouble, silence can be your best friend. I heed that creed whenever possible. Maybe Laurence Cole should do the same.

In an attempt to quell the irate mob descending on the Lone Star State, referee Laurence Cole, fresh from his subpar performance in last week’s fight between Orlando Salido and Vasyl Lomachenko, spoke with RingTV.com in defense of his actions or the lack thereof.

At times contrite, at times disingenuous, Cole was given a platform and he made the most of it.

The interview started off with a bang instead of a whimper. Cole admitted that he hadn’t watched a replay of the fight on the advice of a friend who warned, “You’re going to be in a very defensive position” because the HBO broadcast team was “pro-Lomachenko.”

That HBO was “pro-Lomachenko” is no more surprising than Bob Arum expressing his unmitigated gall at Cole’s refereeing.

“He allowed Salido to throw so many low blows like I’ve never seen before,” said Arum, sounding no less disingenuous than Cole, “and he didn’t warn him at all. I think that he should have warned Salido. Then, if Salido persisted, then he should have taken points away. But obviously I think that Salido is a pro, and that if he had been warned a couple of times with the threat of taking points away, then I believe that he would have stopped throwing low blows.”

I won’t question Arum’s sincerity. His memory is another story. Isn’t the aforementioned Orlando Salido the same Orlando Salido who not long ago broke Mikey Garcia’s nose with an intentional headbutt? I’m just checking, because my memory isn’t what it once was either.

After admitting that his latest assignment “might not have been my A-game,” Cole got down to brass tacks. As if in response to Arum’s statement, he said, “I warned Salido twice for low blows, and I warned Lomachenko twice for holding. Lomachenko never looked at me or complained about the low blows… [I]n hindsight, yeah, I probably should have done it for both at one point in time.”

Or at many points in time, to show the fighters, those in the arena, those at home, and those partisans at HBO that he was in control of the fight.

“But if I would have taken a point away from Lomachenko for holding, then I would have had to take another point away from Salido in the 11th round when he was trying to survive when he was clinching and holding as well.”

Yes, and, well, so, what’s new pussycat?

“The low blows that I did see were being caused by the fouls, or the beginning of the fouls, or the positioning of Lomachenko,” explained Cole maladroitly. “For instance, if they’re going in, and Lomachenko grabs or intends to grab, and pulls Salido off balance, some punches were landing low. Well, you can’t get on him for that, because the intention of the punch was to land it in a scoring zone. But because something else happened, the punch landed outside of the scoring zone.”

No one said refereeing is easy. There are some great refs, and some not so great refs, and Laurence Cole can be lumped with the latter.

“Should you be overly assertive and have that really aggressive cop mentality,” Cole asked rhetorically, “and for everything that happens you jump on it and start taking points away instantly, or do you allow the fight to kind of progress on its own?”

Those are questions each referee asks and answers according to his standards. If no answer is forthcoming, one can put the blame on Mame.

“It doesn’t seem like you can please the media in any way you do the fight, because they’re focused on one fighter, and not on both. The fans are the same way. They’re focused on one fighter, and not both.”

That may be true to a degree, but it’s a lame excuse all the same.

“They always come back to the fact that I’m Dickie Cole’s son. But when you look at my body of work, it is because Dickie Cole got me into the game, and got me a lot of fights earlier. But not for this one. I was assigned by the WBO.

“If Dickie Cole had everyone in his pocket, don’t you think that I would work every main event? That’s an easy thing for people to say when I don’t work a perfect fight. They don’t want to blame the athlete. They always want to blame the officials.”

We’re willing to join hands with Laurence Cole and blame the media, the fans, and the athletes, but he’s the third man in the ring and it’s a job that comes with responsibilities.

“I don’t know any ring officials who are not trying to get better. We all have experiences where we can do things differently, and we can learn from them. We’re trying to learn from every experience to make ourselves better.”

We’re willing to give Laurence Cole another chance, if he’ll give all of us another chance as well.

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  1. bikermike 07:44pm, 03/10/2014

    I’d say that Cole has a great future in protecting motorbike enthusiasts….BY TESTING MOTORCYCLE HELMETS

  2. Tex Hassler 05:16pm, 03/09/2014

    I have nothing personal against Mr. Cole but he needs to learn his trade or find another one.

  3. Andrew Goldstein 12:23pm, 03/09/2014

    With all respect,  it was one of the most inept and horrific referee performances ever.  The endless appointments of him on Texas fight telecasts are and have been for eons garnered through his father and the world knows that.

    The smug intros with the all knowing smirk as if “Here I am again,” thanks Dad,  is overwhelming to the boxing fans

    The subsequent interview denying he did wrong or trying to justify the myriad of low blows is sad and transparent and his many mistakes in the ring should not be rewarded with more big fights.  His Texas assignments and alphabet group assignments are mired in outside influences and it has resulted in some of the most embarrassing ref performances with no accountability until Lampley finally called it like it is.

    Yes there are other horrible referees who get the big fights through friendship, boxing convention donations, etc and are quite horrible too while other more deserving and talented officials are passed over, but the handling of this latest bout by Cole was a fiasco.

  4. Leslie Bonano 03:07pm, 03/08/2014

    Laurence Cole is a very good Ref and has been outstanding in his overall body of work. He is not responsible for the fact that his father is in the position that he is in. Both Laurence and his Father are very honorable people.

  5. kid vegas 03:45pm, 03/07/2014

    His father the fossil Dickie Cole gives him every juicy damn assignment in Texas.  The WBO did not assigned him.  Texas makes the assignments which is Dickie Cole, years and years of putting this guy on TV no matter how bad he does.

  6. nicolas 10:53am, 03/07/2014

    I have to give Cole a little credit here, at least he went to an interviewer on this fight. Also interestingly, he is being criticized for being a bad referee in a fight which the promoter and HBO seemed to be perhaps for the other guy, usually it is the fighter that the promotion seems to want to win that gets the referee and judges favor, like the first Mares-Agbeko fight. I am no Laurence Cole fan considering the conflict of interest that seems to be in this family, but would we not like to have more people who are being criticized for their officiating or judging trying to explain themselves after a fight? Also, with all the bad decisions rendered in Texas in major fights, why do HBO and Showtime and Arum for that matter just say we won’t promote there?

  7. Robert Ecksel 10:51am, 03/07/2014

    Totally agree on both counts. Mercante is an out and out danger to any boxer fighting under his watchful eye, and Smoger has more personality that mobility or judgment. But one thing they have in common with Cole is that boxing politics has enabled them to get where they are, just as boxing politics enables them to stay where they are, no matter who or how much the sport suffers from their ineptitude.

  8. Thresher 09:52am, 03/07/2014

    When Smoger does terrible work, he gets a pass. I don’t get that. He has become a poor and out-of-shape referee, but still gets plum assignments based on politics and who he knows. .When is someone going to call this for what it is?

  9. Ted 09:29am, 03/07/2014

    Well, at least he doesn’t put a fighter’s health at risk. He is no Mercante Jr. but his record of bad stuff is long and well-documented.

    His major fouls -up have been

    1) the JMM FIASCO FOR WHICH HE WAS SUSPENDED.

    2) Ward vs. Leila

    3) Dirrell-AA

    4) This one.

    5) Also penalizing Maidana instead of Broner

    6) he was horrible in the ishe smith danny jacobs fight

    I can list many others.

  10. Robert Ecksel 08:45am, 03/07/2014

    I agree, Ted, that there are worse referees than Laurence Cole, but there’s always a worse lingering somewhere, whatever the subject. Given his visibility and plum assignments, the best is to whom he needs be compared. We all lose focus now and then, and no one and nothing suffers as a result. But the ring is no place to lose focus. There’s too much at stake. And Cole’s insistence on grabbing the fighters to separate them, instead of issuing verbal commands, suggests that he’s a ref who possesses more ego than smarts.

  11. Mike Casey 07:49am, 03/07/2014

    A telling characteristic of most people who aren’t up to the job is their unswerving belief that they are - as well as an annoying tendency to keep telling us they are.

  12. Ted 07:45am, 03/07/2014

    Still, there are others who are worse. Cole’s problem IMO is inconsistency. I have seen him do fine work but then I have seen him do atrocious work. That suggests an issue associated with focus.

  13. Pete The Sneak 05:51am, 03/07/2014

    “We all have experiences where we can do things differently, and we can learn from them. We’re trying to learn from every experience to make ourselves better.”

    That may be so, but how much of a ‘learning’ curve do you need Larry Ol’ Chap? But to your credit there Lawrence, you’ve gotten better at being worse… Daddy Dickie could have you working every main event if you were in his pocket? Heck, even Daddy knows you can’t screw up every fight card in Texas….Peace.

  14. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 05:27pm, 03/06/2014

    Which reminds me….Larry’s got all the bases covered….Larry’s insurance agency provides the liability policies for these major events in Texas including last Saturday’s fights…I doubt if any other agents even get the chance to give a quote…..which reminds me…..the reason he looks so flustered in the ring is that in between rounds he charges out of the ring to work the crowd for tips as a beer vendor then right back up the steps in time for the bell….this guy’s a good….mark my words someday he’ll be the head of the commission in Texas….just wait and see…..his app is already in old Dad’s desk drawer….this young man is going places…...he’s come a long way from the days when he used to ride the short bus to school.

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