Eight Days a Weeks

By Robert Ecksel on December 26, 2015
Eight Days a Weeks
“Unbelievable! Unforgettable! There’s not a day goes by that I don’t think about that fight.”

Tony Weeks has a cool, relaxed, cordial, inviting manner. There’s no bluster or bombast. He has nothing to prove. He appears to be a man at peace…

I’m just a lucky so-and-so. Not only am I tall, dark and handsome, give or take a few inches, a couple of hues, and a grudging acceptance that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I also get to write about the fights.

One perk that comes with covering boxing is a chance to interview the players They are good, bad and ugly, much like humankind in general, and since boxing is, among other things, life in microcosm, anything less would be a disappointment.

I met Tony Weeks last week and he is neither bad nor ugly. The consensus finest referee in boxing, I have long admired his work. He is always present but never intrusive. He errs on the side of caution.

Tony Weeks is a big man with a big presence. His 100-watt smile, signature mustache, retro haircut and booming voice makes him impossible to miss, even across a crowded arena.

In addition to being big, Tony Weeks is also benign. He has a cool, relaxed, cordial, inviting presence. There’s no bluster or bombast. He has nothing to prove. He appears to be a man at peace.

Foregoing small talk, I asked Weeks how he got involved in the sport.

“I just fell into it actually,” he said. “At the time I worked in the federal prison system in Phoenix, Arizona, and put on a little boxing exhibition. I brought some fighters up, got the ring up in the yard, but I forgot to get a referee. I was curious, so I just asked the trainer, ‘Hey, do you mind if I get up there and start refereeing?’ And to make a long story short, I got up there, starting refereeing, it felt natural, it felt good, and one of the trainers, Beto Martinez, asked me if I’d done that before. I said no. He said, ‘Well, I think you should look into it.’ He made some phone calls and got me in on the Arizona State Boxing Commission—and here I am.”

Since that auspicious afternoon in the prison yard, Weeks has been third man in the ring for over 50 title fights in 15 countries. He launched his professional career in 1994.

“I did my first world title fight, which was a WBA fight, in Phoenix, Arizona, in ’96. It was right before the Super Bowl. The Cowboys were playing the Steelers and everybody was in town.”

That fight was between Eloy Rojas and Miguel Arrozal at the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum for the WBA featherweight title. In that fight, and in every fight before it and since, there was more than enough pressure to go around.

“Pressure?” said Weeks. “Oh yes, yes. I mean you have to make a split-second decision in a real stressful situation. You can’t really think about it. You see something you have to respond almost instantaneously and hopefully you make the right call.”

Weeks has been referee in too many fights to count. His last big fight was in Düsseldorf, Germany, where a certain challenger named Tyson Fury dethroned an uncertain titleholder named Wladimir Klitschko to become heavyweight champion of the world.

I asked Weeks which of his many fights was most memorable.

“Oh, wow,” he said. “First and foremost was the first fight between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo, 2005 Fight of the Year, 2005 Round of the Year. Unbelievable! Unforgettable! There’s not a day goes by that I don’t think about that fight. That fight kind of launched me into the public eye, so to speak, and it was just a great contest.

“And I’ve had some other memorable ones. Actually my first tough fight was Bernard Hopkins and Antwun Echols in 2000, the rematch in Las Vegas. If anyone knows Bernard he can be kind of crafty, so I really learned a lot in that fight. And that’s another fight that put me on the map because it showed that I could handle a difficult situation when it occurs.”

Difficult situations occur. I’m glad Weeks is watching.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Jose Luis Castillo vs Diego Corrales (I)

Bernard Hopkins v s Antwun Echols II

Wladimir Klitschko vs Tyson Fury-Full Sound HD

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  1. Aztec Warrior 02:38pm, 12/27/2015

    I’ve had the honor of meeting and speaking to Tony several times at the IBHOF. He is indeed a true gentleman. He is more than accommodating to any and all fans that wish to talk with him or just want a photo.
    True story, I attended last years IBHOF festivities in NY with my wife, brother and sister in law. My wife wasn’t feeling very well one evening during an event and I had to leave to drive her back to our hotel. Not knowing our situation and thinking my brother and sister in law didn’t have a ride, Tony and his lovely wife offered to give them a lift back to Syracuse. 
    Great referee and even better human being.

  2. Bob 05:55am, 12/27/2015

    A great referee and a true gentleman. A class act in every way.

  3. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:59pm, 12/26/2015

    Best moment was when he used that big body to push his way through that committee meeting in Alvarado’s corner to get nose to nose with Mike to find out for himself if Alvarado was willing and able to take anymore of that hellacious beating from Provodnikov.

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