Russian Roulette: Part Three

By Ted Sares on January 28, 2014
Russian Roulette: Part Three
"The worst ref I've looked at for a long time," said Duran's former trainer Ray Arcel.

When Davey Moore’s cornermen sent him out for the eighth against a sneering and vicious Roberto Duran at the Garden, their bravery was remarkable…

Hopefully, some awareness has been established that a boxer can be lured into this “game” if he does his boxing in Indonesia, or if he foolishly decides to continue to box after having suffered a brain bleed. However, though it’s far from axiomatic, there are other ways Russian roulette can be engaged.

This points to the fact that certain people are placed in charge of protecting a boxer from undue punishment. The sequential rings of protection may differ from state to state, but clearly the ringside physician, referee, members of the state boxing commission (if they are present)), and a fighter’s corner (trainer, second, and cutman) are included. And for the most part, they all do a fine job, particularly the referees.

But like passengers who board a plane and depend on the expertise of the pilots, fighters who crawl through the ropes must also depend on the expertise of the referees because in a very real sense, their lives depends on that expertise—and nothing less than zero defects should be acceptable.

Speaking of airline passengers, the Airline Industry is at its safest point since the dawn of the Jet Age. In fact, flying has become so reliable that a traveler could fly every day for an average of 123,000 years before being in a fatal crash. Perhaps the business of boxing could examine the reasons for this remarkable record and see there might be related applications such as failure analyses, zero defects in safety, training, continual redesign of rules and policies, etc., but that’s the grist for another essay. Suffice it to say that like a passenger, the safety of a fighter should be first and foremost.

But sometimes there can be a loss of focus….


Tony Zale finished off a groggy Rocky Graziano in their third fight in 1948. The “Man of Steel” ended matters with an eyebrow-raising downstairs-upstairs combo as referee Paul Cavalier looked on in a manner befitting his name and then proceeded to count over the unconscious Rock. When Rocky got up after his first decking, he didn’t move backwards—he fell backwards.


In 1958, Ingemar Johansson demolished crafty Eddie Machen. Eddie was decked three times by Ingo’s famed “Hammer” of a right and at the end was almost decapitated by the Big Swede. It all happened in the chilling first round. Referee Andrew Smyth worked many high profile fights during his career, but (suffering from decision paralysis) gave Ingo way too many free shots in this one and then had the hubris to count over the unconscious Machen while he (Smyth) inexplicitly looked out at the crowd. This was as bizarre as it was scary. Said Mike Casey, “...watching that slaughter requires a strong stomach. Oddly enough, it shakes the viewer more than Johansson’s seven-knockdown hammering of Patterson.” See:


Back in 1981 in a frightening encounter in Halifax, Nova Scotia, referee Honey Carvery failed to smother Dicky Eklund’s unrestrained attack of eight or nine flush crosses at full speed on Allan Clark’s unprotected head before he sank to the canvas unconscious. Here it is but first a warning, this is not for the faint of heart:


“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 Magana 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.”—William Mack

When Davey Moore’s cornermen sent him out for the eighth against a sneering and vicious Roberto Duran at the Garden, their bravery was remarkable. As for referee Ernesto Magana, whatever responsibility he felt for Moore’s well being was seemingly nonexistent. “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 Magana saw it, he disregarded it. Finally, Jay Edson, a Top Rank representative, reportedly stormed 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…


Talented James “The Heat” Kinchen exploited equally talented Alex “The Bronx Bomber” Ramos’ suspect chin in 1984 at Caesars Tahoe in Stateline, Nevada. This important middleweight clash was televised on NBC. In what had become an extremely close fight, Kinchen nailed Ramos in the ninth round with a right cross to the head which sent the “Bronx Bomber” back into the ropes unconscious. The punch did not appear to carry much zip, but it hit Ramos on the temple. With Alex tied up on the ropes and totally helpless, referee Joey Curtis was not fast enough and Kinchen was able to take another shot at his defenseless opponent, a free one that could only render terrible damage. The second right had true malice behind it and it knocked out an already knocked-out boxer—if that’s possible.


“The fight was televised live nationally on USA Cable, and La Mancha employees said their switchboard was deluged with telephone calls in protest of Yanez’s handling of the fight.”—From Times Wire Services dated November 7, 1990

“Referee Roger Yanez, apparently on a lunch break, didn’t intervene and it looked like Benton had been killed. He slumped face first into the canvas and that prompted Yanez to react. He began counting. The fight was over and Garcia had a devastating knockout that got a lot of play because of the horrible officiating and the overall brutality of it.”—Geno McGahee (Ringside Report)

Highly touted Mexican-American Alex “The San Fernando Hammer” García tangled with tough Bernard “Bull” Benton in Phoenix. In the second stanza, Garcia used his sharp jab to keep the incoming Bull at bay. After two nice body shots, the Hammer stunned the Bull with a left hook followed by a right cross and then the slaughter was on.

An onslaught of between 35 and 40 unanswered shots was launched. Many landed while Benton was out on his feet but pinned in a corner. Some of the shots landed with full force, some landed low. The protracted assault included left hooks, right crosses, uppercuts, and hard shots to the body and groin. Garcia threw everything but the stool at the poor Bull. Announcers Al Albert and Sean O’Grady were shouting for the fight to be stopped as Benton’s head was snapping back violently. Then, as Benton fell face down on the canvas totally unconscious, referee Roger Yanez began the count before realizing he could have counted to 1,000 as the crowd unloaded on him with boos. It was terrifying to witness.

Later, the spin was that the referee was out of position to make a make a timely decision; the reality was that the referee was more likely spinning around Saturn.

Here is the YouTube and be forewarned, this is not for the weak stomached:


Arthur Mercante Jr. was the referee when the late Michael Dokes was hit by a left hook by Razor Ruddock in their bout at the Garden and was completely unconscious yet propped up by the ropes. Razor got in at least one lethal free shot with his famous smash left hook. For reasons known only to him, Mercante proceeded to count Dokes out, but the doctors thankfully rushed into the ring before Junior could finish. Dokes remained unconscious for several minutes. Mercante could have counted all night. Though Dokes then won nine in a row against just fair opposition, he never was the same. See:


Merciless Ray Mercer perpetrated a merciless stoppage over Tommy Morrison in 1991 at Atlantic City. At stake was the WBO heavyweight title. Mercer caught a gassing and lunging Duke early in the fifth and launched over 15 heavy shots—including some dangerous head snappers before referee Tony Perez (who curiously also worked the horrific Cooney-Norton massacre in May 1981) could halt the concussing. To some, these two stoppages generated excitement and drama. To others, they were unnecessarily repulsive.


In 1995, Charles Murray put a frightening nonstop beating on Reggie Green in Rochester, NY and pummeled him with far too many unanswered punches before bouncing Green off the lower ropes, but referee Arthur Mercante Jr. did not call it a knockdown. This one is especially difficult to watch, for it brings back memories off Davey Moore and Michael Watson. See”


Referee Mercante Jr. allowed Diosbelys Hurtado to take 11 straight fully-leveraged lefts from Pernell Whitaker while the young Cuban was caught along the ropes. Whitaker pummeled Hurtado like he was pounding nails into wood; luckily, he was not a big puncher. As Jim Lampley said, “I think Arthur would like to have that one back.” Lampley pointed to four specific punches where the fight could have been stopped earlier. Here it is:


“I’d run out of gas, but I’ve got no regrets. My eyes were closing and I didn’t want to get knocked out. This is a scary sport and one punch is all that it takes.”—Wayne Rigby

On July 1, 2000, a bout occurred at the Bowler’s Arena, Manchester, UK, that had all the ingredients for a classic Brit dust-up. The participants were late-substitute Wayne Rigby (17-5) from Manchester and Michael “Shaka” Ayers (28-3-1) from London. “Shaka” was the IIBO lightweight titleholder. And once again, the referee was Mercante Jr., but this time, after a tremendous war, the fighters took things into their own hands and made the final decision themselves. With only 29 seconds left, Ayers signaled to Junior that the fight should be stopped, but for some inexplicable reason the referee was not responsive. Ayers then pummeled his helpless and badly bloodied opponent until both men signaled that enough was enough, touched gloves, and headed back to their corners. This unique ending occurred with just 14 seconds left. It was a rare moment of poignancy that tingled the spines of those who witnessed it.

As Mike Lewis wrote, “Dropping their hands, Ayers and Rigby decided there and then that this memorable bruising battle was over… An extraordinary finish to an extraordinary contest. Hardened Manchester ringsiders had never seen anything like it.”

“Barry Hearn, my manager, said it was eerie,” recalls 36-year-old Londoner Ayers of his remarkable victory which was deemed to be a stoppage. “It was almost as though Wayne and myself had communicated through telepathy. Somehow he got it across to me that he’d taken enough and I stopped.”

But the best quote came from Jerry Storey, Ayers’ Irish trainer when he said, “Those two guys showed boxing still had a soul.” See:


In January 2001, Olympian Michael Bennett KO’d Andre Hutchinson in the first round at the Garden. Even though his Jamaican opponent was done and out, Bennett was allowed by referee Arthur Mercante Jr. to land two more late and flush shots.  It was another case of knocking out a boxer who was already knocked out and it was not pleasant to witness. Judge for yourselves:

In February 2001, Ray Mercer met the limited Jeff Pegues who was 18-7 at the time. This bout was held in Elgin, Illinois, reflecting Ray’s decline as a major attraction. Ray hammered Jeff into the ropes with a powerful right. Jeff leaned helpless and out on his feet as he was tangled in the ropes. Mercer then wound up like he was tossing a base ball and threw a right haymaker that connected flush on poor Pegues sending him out of the ring. It all happened too fast for referee Genaro Rodriguez to stop it. “That shot he (Mercer) threw against Pegues, thank God his head didn’t wind up in the third row,” said promoter Dan Goossen. “It was vicious, but that is what our sport is.”

In June 2001, Mercante (again) worked the fateful televised fight between Khalid Jones vs. Beethaeven “Bee” Scottland on the USS Intrepid and I recall Max Kellerman commenting that he did not like the cumulative damage Beethaeven was taking and that he hoped “he (Bee) would survive the fight and come out okay.” Later, of course, Bee died from said damage. Poster lionel123ification wrote, “THE GUY WAS TAKING SOME BIG SHOTS, BUT STILL HAD HIS ARMS UP TO DEFEND, KINDA HARD FOR THE REF TO STOP IT, ESPECIALLY IN 2001….. AND I AGREE THE CORNER MEN SHOULD THROW THE TOWEL IN.” See:


When Oscar Diaz fought Golden Johnson in November 2006, he was stopped in the 11th round in a fight in which many observers wondered what part of a white towel did Diaz’s corner not understand. As it was, Johnson ended up putting a terrible and bloody beating on Diaz before referee Ruben Carrion halted the slaughter.

More recently (in December 2013), this same thing happened to Glen Tapia when his corner proved braver than their charge as James Kirkland pummeled Tapia from pillar to post in Atlantic City and managed to get in one last (free) shot that separated Glen from his senses.


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

On March 2, Nate Campbell did some things to Ricky Quiles at the A La Carte Event Pavilion in Tampa, Florida that were difficult 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 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 body shots. He had Ricky wobbling across the ring with only the ropes to keep him up. At the end of that ultraviolent round, Quiles’ corner or the referee, Jorge Alonso, should have rescued him from himself. Ricky Quiles became nothing more than target practice and allowing it to continue proved absolutely nothing and did no one any good. If anything, it probably ended the veteran’s career.


“Apparently for referee Arthur Mercante Jr., the phrase ‘throwing in the towel’ doesn’t equate to surrender or acknowledgment of defeat, but instead means ‘I get to do whatever I want!’”—Jake Emen

“I usually defend referees…It’s a hard job. And to be honest; I don’t like to say things that upset officials because they might hold it against me down the road. But I’ll talk about this because it was horrible. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a referee do a job that bad.”—Emanuel Steward

“It’s not a hard concept to grasp. If a fighter is hurt and his chief second wants to stop the fight, the referee should stop the fight. People can agree or disagree with me. But that’s how I feel, and I feel very strongly about it.”—Thomas Hauser

On June f, Yuri Foreman fought Miguel Cotto and referee Mercante’s handling of this one left many fans and writers shaking their heads in bewilderment. In fact, after Foreman had obviously suffered a bad injury to his knee, non-doctor Mercante told him to “walk it off, kid, suck it up, kid.”And then he actually instructed him how to move around the ring by saying, “go the other way.” Mercante was apparently caught between a referee’s responsibility to protect a boxer and his desire to see a fighter get a fair opportunity to win a title match. The traditional way of the corner throwing the towel in the ring is surprisingly illegal in New York, according to section 210.17 of the NYSAC laws and rules regulating boxing.  And NYSAC chairwoman Melvina Lathan said that she supports Mercante 100% and that everything he did was within the commission’s rules. But Tim Smith of the NY Daily News said, “Did Mercante make the right call? No. He got caught up in the enormity of the situation and overstepped his authority.” See:

Smith also said, “Mercante chose to disregard a towel thrown into the ring from Foreman’s corner in the eighth round – it is the international signal for stopping a fight, just not the way to do so in this state [New York] – but he also ignored pleas from the champion’s corner to end it, raising the question of whether a referee should have sole authority to stop a bout.” Here it is:


“In the seventh, Holm was absolutely, 100% being demolished by Mathis, and was at one point out on her feet and being held up only by the ropes.”—Scott Christ

When Holly Holm lost by KO to Anne Sophie Mathis (26-1) of France in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Holly was lucky to leave the ring alive. The real savagery began in the sixth round, when normally solid referee Rocky Burke wrongly called a clear and brutal knockdown of Holm a slip. Holly then received a nonstop onslaught from Mathis and was saved by the bell. On “Queer Street,” Holm wobbled back to her corner like a drunk as the crowd shouted “Holly, Holly.” The fight should have been stopped then and there, but she nevertheless went out for the seventh stanza. She then absorbed incredible punishment and ended up like a semiconscious rag doll with only the ropes to keep her up. The referee then untangled Holm from the ropes and instead of stopping the slaughter allowed the eager Mathis to render a molar-rattling KO that left Holly unconscious.

Holly Holm had not lost since 2004. In that one her corner threw in the towel on cuts. They should have thrown in the towel in this one as well.


Seventeen-year-old Tubagus Sakti collapsed and died following his debut pro bout in Jakarta in January. He was rushed to hospital after suffering convulsions following his eighth round TKO defeat at the hands of Ical Tobida. Sakti raised both his hands in the air rather than taking a knee, clearly unable to carry on with the fight but his opponent managed to land a few more flush blows to Sakti’s head before referee Gondolbus Borlak could stop the fight. Doctors at the Universitas Kristen Indonesia Hospital were unable to save Tubagus. The cause of death was a cerebral hemorrhage, but whether it was caused by those last three blows will never be known..

Russian Roulette: Part One
Russian Roulette: Part Two
Russian Roulette: Part Three

Ted Sares is a private investor who enjoys following and writing about boxing, and considers himself an advocate for reform. A member of the Elite Powerlifting Federation, Ted actively competes in the sport throughout the US and Eastern Canada and holds several state records for his age class.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Ingemar Johansson vs Eddie Machen

Dicky Eklund vs Allen Clarke

Tuesday Night Fights Knockouts 3 part 5/6

Donovan "Razor" Ruddock vs Michael Dokes / Part 4


Michael Ayers vs Waybe Rigby (part 4)

Michael Bennett | Andrew Hutchinson 1/1


Foreman vs Cotto - THE REFEREE'S BEHAVIOUR!!

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  1. ageloc youthspan 04:59pm, 09/09/2015

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  2. Ted 12:43pm, 02/01/2014

    Earl Brown could have stopped that one last night just a bit sooner. Jorge Diaz took a brutal and unnecessary beating the last two rounds and ended up in the hospital. Brown looked too fat and immobile in there. Meanwhile, how many fights does Benj Estevez get to ref? He seems to be working every night in NJ or in NY. What’s that all about?

  3. Ted 03:43pm, 01/30/2014

    Decapitations are never pleasant. Morrison also punched away after he was sent to Okie Dreamland. Did it on the stool.

  4. John 02:33pm, 01/30/2014

    Nothing a ref could do here. For the Sam Peter fight, Jason Williams (Jeremy’s brother) told me a dentist designed a mouthpiece to enable Jeremy to absorb the punches from Peter. After the KO, while Jeremy was down and out, there was a major concern in the corner that Jeremy was losing oxygen due to the mouthpiece getting lodged in the back of his mouth.

  5. Ted 02:17pm, 01/30/2014

    Simon Brown. I remember it well

  6. John 02:15pm, 01/30/2014

    One of the most brutal KOs I recall:

  7. Ted 12:58pm, 01/30/2014

    It was horrible to witness.

    Same with Walcott stumbling around during the Bangor fiasco

  8. Eric 09:58am, 01/30/2014

    Got to blame Jerry Quarry’s corner for his second fight against Frazier also. Frazier was giving Jerry quite a pounding and I have no idea what his corner was waiting for. Joe Louis was in another world as the ref that night, and even Frazier was pleading for Louis to stop the fight. Lost a great deal of respect for Gil Clancy that night.

  9. John 09:13am, 01/30/2014

    Personally, I don’t think Frazier would have wanted it any other way. He got his shots in and the better man (that particular night) remained standing.

  10. Ted 09:03am, 01/30/2014

    John, I blame Joe’s corner on that one. He kept getting up and he would not quit until he was killed in there. They should have realized that. It WAS brutal for certain, and it was unnecessary and cruel.

  11. john 09:00am, 01/30/2014

    A very informative piece, Ted. Thanks for bringing to light some very poor decisions over the years. Question: Should Foreman/Frazier have been stopped by Arthur Mercante back in 1973? Frazier was down a whopping 6 times within 2 rounds by one of the hardest punchers to ever lace-up the gloves. One could easily make an argument that after round 1 the fight should have been stopped. Frazier was in need of help by his seconds to return to his corner. Brutal!

  12. Ted 07:47am, 01/30/2014

    Yes Eric and Mike. Machen n destruction was a “bone chiller.”

  13. Eric 07:10am, 01/30/2014

    The Ingo-Machen fight should have been stopped after the second knockdown. I can’t believe the ref allowed the fight to continue after the second knockdown. Getting punched repeatedly while semi-conscious and helpless by Pernell Whitaker is one thing, but getting belted by a 200lb power punching Ingo is another. Machen was very lucky to come out of that without serious injury. Might have been wise that Marciano gave up the idea of coming back out of retirement to fight Ingo. At that point and time given Marciano’s inactivity and age, he might not have been capable of beating the Swede.

  14. Mike Casey 05:06am, 01/30/2014

    When James Caan appeared in Rollerball (1974 I believe), people laughed at the idea of legalized murder returning to a ‘civilized’ society. Now take a careful look at how the concept of entertainment has been ramped up in terms of danger and violence in recent years. It is no longer cool for politicians to call for the banning of boxing and other contact sports, and that’s a good thing in itself. But I think we will need to seriously worry if we get to the point of ‘anything goes’. By the way, Ted, that Johansson destruction of Machen is still a bone chiller. No point at all in the referee being there, but I guess he had nothing else on that night.

  15. Ted 09:05pm, 01/29/2014

    Ted 08:03pm, 01/28/2014

    On March 24, 1962, Kid Paret fought well in the beginning and dropped the heavily favorite Emile Griffith in the sixth round, but eventually Emil was able to dictate the action and was in control going into the 12th. Then it happened. Griffith, never known for having a hard punch or being vicious towards his opponents, drove Paret back onto the ropes with a sharp right. Before a live crowd of 8,000 at Madison Square Garden and a national television audience, Griffith unloaded on the cornered “Kid” and drilled perhaps as many as eighteen vicious (and ultimately deadly) punches to the head (some say it was 23). Griffith punched and punched—the blows landing with tremendous force, one after another. With no assistance from a seemingly transfixed referee, he was beaten into unconsciousness and rag dolled. It all occurred in a matter of seconds; though I do recall screaming at referee Ruby Goldstein via the television set to stop the fight. It would not be the first or last time I would so engage a television set.

  16. Ted 09:04pm, 01/29/2014

    No. I covered it down below in a post.

  17. andrew 08:53pm, 01/29/2014

    You overlooked the worst example ever of a referee destroying a fighter: Count the punches Ruby Goldstein allowed Griffith to hammer Paret with. I don’t have the stomach for it.

  18. Dr. YouTube 06:54pm, 01/29/2014

    Here is a seminar on rabbit punches and back of the head shots courtesy of Referee Garry Dean

  19. BIKERMIKE 06:03pm, 01/29/2014

    Ba pa OOHM Mow mow ...

  20. BIKERMIKE 05:57pm, 01/29/2014

    Geez Ted…..another one outta the park

    Roberto Duran….when he was on hs game…..was meaner than a junk yard dog….and twice as vicious…..just ask leonard

  21. Ted 05:01pm, 01/29/2014

    Bobby Franklin , I totally agree, “A fight cannot be stopped too soon”

  22. Ted 04:59pm, 01/29/2014

    Eric, same with Ingo and Floyd and Floyd and Tom McNeely.

    Also Oquendo and Etiene

  23. Ted 04:43pm, 01/29/2014

    Kid, absolutory positively with no hesitation, Bull Benton was almost killed in plain sight by Alex “The San Fernando Hammer” Garcia thanks to the indifference of Roger Yanez..

    Here is the YouTube and be forewarned, this is not for the weak stomached:

  24. Eric 04:43pm, 01/29/2014

    You could certainly make a case that the Archie Moore-Yvon Durelle I fight should have been stopped, and that would have deprived Moore of his great comeback. However, Moore never seemed to be totally defenseless like Dokes or Hurtado. Hard to believe the pot shots that Whitaker was allowed to take on a defenseless Hurtado. Unlike Moore, Hurtado was over and done for the night.

  25. kid vegas 03:26pm, 01/29/2014


  26. Bobby Franklin 02:04pm, 01/29/2014

    A fight cannot be stopped too soon, but many are stopped too late. Mercante is a disgrace and borders on being a sadist. The referee may legally be able to overrule the corner men, and that should be changed, but always remember, the second can end the fight just by climbing in the ring. Once he interferes the fight has to be stopped and the fighter disqualified. It should never have to come to that as that still takes too long, but it is one way to take control. Ignoring a thrown towel is beyond belief, yet it happens.
    As boxing deteriorated so much that the commissions, referees, and trainers somehow feel they have to give the fans their money’s worth by sacrificing the fighters. With all that is now known about the effects of blows to the head, there is no excuse for this behavior. It is sick.

  27. Larry Link 01:42pm, 01/29/2014


  28. Clarence George 01:27pm, 01/29/2014

    Irish is not only sage, but also parsley, rosemary, and thyme.  And if you don’t think I’ll be chortling over that for the rest of the day…think again.

  29. Ted 01:23pm, 01/29/2014

    Watching the Machen near decapitation made me sick,

  30. Roto Rooter Man 01:21pm, 01/29/2014

    Ralph Petrillo and Melvina Lathan have proven themselves just to be the latest in a long line of hacks sitting in those offices, It’s sickening but it’s part of how the game of Russian Roulette can be played out. By supporting an incompetent like Junior, they become a big part of the problem. They should all be roter rooted out of boxing and swept into the Gowanus Canal from whence they germinated.

    Sooner or later they are going to kill one of these poor boxers who perform at their mercy like gladiators performed in that arenas.

  31. Thresher 01:12pm, 01/29/2014

    Mike Silver has the beat

  32. Mike Silver 01:04pm, 01/29/2014

    What are the licensing requirements to be a referee? Actually nothing. No standardized tests or requirements. Unless a ref is involved in a disaster there is no peer review—and then even not (see the ridiculous comments by NYSAC Commish. supporting Mercante Jr. after he allowed a crippled Foreman to continue against Cotto). Awful referees like Smoger and Mercante Jr. wait too long to stop a fight. Guess they want to be sure. It is always preferable to stop a fight too soon than too late. Too bad virtually no one adheres to that mode of behavior. Bring on the bread and circuses! Caligula would be very pleased.

  33. Ted 12:48pm, 01/29/2014

    Yeah, Peter got DQ and his trainer got rich!

  34. nicolas 12:41pm, 01/29/2014

    Of course, one of the problems that some referees face are when they stop a fight too early, and then they are criticized for that. i will never forget the outrage of fans and the crew on Showtime when the corner man for Pete McNeely against Mike Tyson threw in the towel in the first round. that cornerman saw what was going to happen, and should have gotten some kind of award for that. It was also amazing to see the huge crowd watching that fight, but not watching earlier the light weight title fight, or after the Middleweight title fight. Also a fight in Australia, when Jeff Hitman Harding defended his title against a fighter from England. It was a good two round fight, but the Englishman quit because he had got hit in the throat, and I guess it was bothering him. Bob Arum was criticizing that fighter on the microphone before the whole crowd at the fight. Real classy Bob.  A few years later on one of Arum’s cards, Jimmy Garcia died from his injuries facing Gabriel Ruelas, who never really recovered from that either.

  35. Thresher 12:39pm, 01/29/2014

    Big Walter. Write to Lathan

  36. Ted 12:38pm, 01/29/2014

    Irish that was beautiful, Weeks went over there and pushed aside the corner men and said to Mike, “are you ok?” No answer, Fight stopped. That’s the way it should be and Mike’s comments later may be a breakthrough in how to avoid terrible damage. Of course, Mayweather has already led the parade on this new movement which I shall be writing about soon.

    Again, great post and very sage

  37. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 11:32am, 01/29/2014

    Memo to all you referees who are currently licensed, active and getting assignments….either man up like Tony Weeks and be willing to elbow zealous cornermen out of the way to get to the fighter eyeball to eyeball to see if he’s got anything left and is able to go on….or….be ready and able and willing to expose your person to hurtful blows and become an instantaneous human shield for a fighter who has given it his all and has nothing left to give….or….give it up! Much rather see you get cold cocked than to have even one more fighter in convalescent care or God forbid the morgue.

  38. Eric 11:24am, 01/29/2014

    Dokes was hurt by Ruddock’s right before Ruddock even threw his left hook. I like how the commentator’s talk about Dokes throwing a good counter right but that right by Ruddock clearly hurt Dokes. Even worse is when Clancy voiced that Ruddock was fighting the wrong kind of fight and then boom. That Ruddock “smash” was devastating. That right by Ruddock set up the barrage that followed.

  39. Big Walter 11:13am, 01/29/2014

    I have decided. Mercante is a bully-type who seems to want to have his way. He also wants to be the show. He should be fired NOW!!!!!!

  40. Thresher 11:02am, 01/29/2014

    “seems to be”?????????????????????????

  41. Don from Prov 11:00am, 01/29/2014

    The Clarke and Machen knockout are brutal, as are most of these.
    Mercante Jr. seems to be on the scene of some awful beat-downs.

  42. Thresher 10:09am, 01/29/2014

    You are forgiven—but just the once Eric. further slip ups will be met with Tyson-like responses

  43. Eric 09:52am, 01/29/2014

    Oops. Sorry Mr. Sares, I was looking for 1981 and didn’t realize that Tony Perez worked both the Cooney-Norton fight and the Mercer-Morrison fight 10 years later.

  44. thresher 09:46am, 01/29/2014

    Eric, see under 1991:

    “Merciless Ray Mercer perpetrated a merciless stoppage over Tommy Morrison in 1991 at Atlantic City. At stake was the WBO heavyweight title. Mercer caught a gassing and lunging Duke early in the fifth and launched over 15 heavy shots—including some dangerous head snappers before referee Tony Perez (who curiously also worked the horrific Cooney-Norton massacre in May 1981) could halt the concussing. To some, these two stoppages generated excitement and drama. To others, they were unnecessarily repulsive”

  45. Eric 09:20am, 01/29/2014

    I would add Cooney-Norton to this list. Norton didn’t take a sustained beating but those few shots he took while sitting on the ropes were brutal.

  46. Eric 09:08am, 01/29/2014

    Billy Collins remained competitive the whole fight and was firing back at Resto even in the final seconds, but his face was a total mess. @Pete The Sneak, spot on, there were indeed two fatalities that evening. Neither fighter would rebound from the beating they took.

  47. Ted 08:49am, 01/29/2014


  48. dollarbond 08:45am, 01/29/2014

    Thanks but no thanks.  I don’t like to interact with lawyers

  49. thresher 08:01am, 01/29/2014

    You will need to pose that question to Melvina Lathan , the head of the NY Commission

  50. dollarbond 07:58am, 01/29/2014

    Awesome research and awesome videos but one question, why is Mercante still refereeing in New York?

  51. Ted 07:29am, 01/29/2014

    Thank you Pete , Peter, and Irish. Enjoyed doing this one because I got to watch a lot of fights. Ayers vs Rigby is in my top five favorite fights of all time.

  52. Ted 07:27am, 01/29/2014

    Charlie, most ref’s do a great job but this is a fail safe business IMO.

  53. Ted 07:26am, 01/29/2014

    Kid, it is whatever the videos say it is

  54. Pete The Sneak 06:20am, 01/29/2014

    Totally loving this ‘Russian Roulette’ series Toro…Preach on hermano…You know, one can’t help but notice that in looking at the poster/picture that accompanies this article, two fighters listed, Davey Moore and Billy Collins, though being able to walk out of the ring that evening, both died as a result, one way or the other of the events of that fateful night on September 16, 1983. One because of an incompetent Ref, the other as a result of flat out criminals (Resto/Panama Lewis)...Peace.

  55. Peter Silkov 02:35am, 01/29/2014

    One word for this article Ted! awesome!.  I especially like the mention of Ayers vs Rigby 1 one of the most amazing fights I’ve ever seen with an ending straight out of Hollywood.  One of those rare fights which illustrate everything that is good about boxing and boxers.

  56. cnorkusjr 08:59pm, 01/28/2014

    Overall I think refs do a good job at stopping fights when they should. A defenseless fighter not defending himself must rely on the ref to step in and halt the carnage before any disaster strikes. Sometimes a referee wants to stay a few feet away from fighters to give the fighters the “ring” of mobility. If a one fighters punch instantly hurts a fighter, there is more than ample time to deliver at least 4-5 more blows to the head (killer instinct fighters have) before the ref comprehends and closes in on the action. The reaction time.
    Also, often, if a boxer fights back with blows to his opponent, a ref will allow the fight continue in mostly Championship bouts knowing full well that this might be the fighters only chance to get a title. I believe that is what Mercante had in mind with some of his Championship fights here.
    But other times-refs are completely wrong in not stepping in sooner like the Dicky Eklund fight.

  57. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:33pm, 01/28/2014

    Ted Sares-Superlative research as always on a very serious life and death topic….which reminds me….it’s all just part of the game for some referees when one fighter is literally bludgeoning another into oblivion…..but whoa….it was priceless the way referee Jack Reiss yelped when one of Rodriguez’s glancing blows actually touched his person….“He hit me”...“He hit me”!

  58. kid vegas 08:27pm, 01/28/2014

    Well now, correct me if I’m wrong but did I sense a pattern—a discernible regularity of incompetence on the part of Junior?

  59. Ted 08:03pm, 01/28/2014

    On March 24, 1962, Kid Paret fought well in the beginning and dropped the heavily favorite Emile Griffith in the sixth round, but eventually Emil was able to dictate the action and was in control going into the 12th. Then it happened. Griffith, never known for having a hard punch or being vicious towards his opponents, drove Paret back onto the ropes with a sharp right. Before a live crowd of 8,000 at Madison Square Garden and a national television audience, Griffith unloaded on the cornered “Kid” and drilled perhaps as many as eighteen vicious (and ultimately deadly) punches to the head (some say it was 23). Griffith punched and punched—the blows landing with tremendous force, one after another. With no assistance from a seemingly transfixed referee, he was beaten into unconsciousness and rag dolled. It all occurred in a matter of seconds; though I do recall screaming at referee Ruby Goldstein via the television set to stop the fight. It would not be the first or last time I would so engage a television set.

  60. Ted 08:02pm, 01/28/2014

    In 1934, Max Baer floored Primo Carnera 10 times and in the process asked referee Arthur Donovan to stop the slaughter. Donovan was having none of it. The Italian giant finally told referee Donovan enough was enough. As Max walked back to his corner in victory, he gave Arthur a look of total disgust. This one was before my time but it warrants mention as another example of when a fighter is allowed multiple opportunities to hit a defenseless opponent.

    Of course Toro Moreno also took an unnecessary beating from “Baer.”

  61. Ted 07:53pm, 01/28/2014

    Thanks Tex and nicolas. From this point forward, I’m going to try to refrain from making value judgments on Mercante and let the footage speak for itself.

    I’ll lay the facts out there and you decide.

  62. Tex Hassler 07:44pm, 01/28/2014

    It comes close to making me physically sick to see a fighter take a tremendous beating he should not take because of incompetent corner men or referees or ring side doctors. Boxing is dangerous enough with out having people who should be watching for the fighters safety day dreaming instead of paying attention. Great point Mr. Sares.

  63. Anonymous 07:43pm, 01/28/2014

    For sure!!!

  64. nicolas 07:37pm, 01/28/2014

    It sounds to me as if Referee Arthur Mercante Jr should not be allowed to referee a fight. Nepotism at it worst?

  65. Ted 07:37pm, 01/28/2014

    haha. I was hoping someone noticed those. Helps makes the effort worthwhile

    Thanks Clarence

  66. Clarence George 07:34pm, 01/28/2014

    Very interesting read, nicely researched.  And with some good lines, such as, “referee Paul Cavalier looked on in a manner befitting his name” and “Later, the spin was that the referee was out of position to make a timely decision; the reality was that the referee was more likely spinning around Saturn.”

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