The Jack Reiss Show

By Johnathan Lee Iverson on December 4, 2018
The Jack Reiss Show
It was a moment in boxing history owed to the masterful acumen of one, Jack Reiss.

It was seasoned professionalism on full display, gleaned from decades in the sport, culminating in that electrifying 12th round…

A good friend of mine happens to be one of the busiest and skilled bassist in show business today. I always marveled at his talent and professionalism. He’s lent his strumming brilliance to everything from nightclubs, cruise ships, Broadway musicals and even circus. Something he said about his contribution to a band or an orchestra left me rather stunned, but enlightened. “If I’m doing my job correctly, you won’t notice me at all,” he quipped. For someone as gifted and well studied as he, I initially thought this to be an attempt at feigned humility. “No one that good goes unnoticed,” I said to myself. However, when I considered his body of work, as I knew it, and bassists of his caliber, I had to agree.

In fight terms, a bassist is to a band or orchestra what a referee is to a prizefight. A steady presence, which keeps all concerned honest. It is hardly ever glamorous rarely applauded, yet, when it goes awry its impact can have catastrophic ramifications. One unsound decision can put an entire event in jeopardy or cause its collapse. If you’ve been a fight fan long enough you know a story or two of such misfortunes occurring in the squared circle.

There’s a burden officials carry into the ring that is rarely ever appreciated by most observers of the sport of boxing. Officiating for other sports, though admirable can hardly compare. The prizefighting referee not only has rules to uphold and enforce if necessary, they must be nimble enough to counter the unexpected, which is always expected, as every decision, no matter how critical is often made within a 10th of a second. More importantly, the lives of the combatants rest in their hands; and yet, when it is done well, considering the temperament of the combatants being officiated, it is done in the shadows.

However, every so often a moment arises in a bout when that same referee for whom no one could give a care becomes the focal point. Suddenly, all that they are hinges on a single decision. Whatever they choose to do inside a matter of milliseconds will either immortalize them as every unseemly thing a sport’s fan can conjure marring whatever reputation they’ve built over time or perhaps fortify their place and purpose in such moments. So it was with veteran referee Jack Reiss, as he officiated Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury. Like any good official, he spent most of the evening in the shadows, maintaining a steady pace and sturdy eye on the combatants and their corners. Yet, as writer Caryn A. Tate suggested in a recent feature, he established his presence before he set foot in the ring, as was evidenced by his detailed and efficient pre-fight rules meeting with the fighters’ handlers.

It was seasoned professionalism on full display, gleaned from decades in the sport, culminating in that electrifying 12th round, which in many respects was made possible, because of Reiss’ decision to grant a toppled Tyson Fury a count, rather than stop the contest, which a large majority of officials, very good officials would have done; and Reiss would not have been the lesser for it. Yet, even within the mayhem of the moment Jack Reiss was clearly composed enough to, within mere milliseconds, determine Fury’s disposition as adequate enough to afford the lineal champion a chance to continue. It proved to be a decision that will surely go down in heavyweight boxing lore, as the moment, like so many moments of significance in this day and age was immediately christened throughout cyberspace with meme upon meme, most notably that of sports entertainment icon, The Undertaker. And try, as some detractors have desperately insisted, there was no long count. From the time Fury collapsed on the canvas, it was a total of nine seconds. Tyson, to the shock of all, made it to his feet by nine. A moment in boxing history owed to the masterful acumen of one, Jack Reiss.

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  1. Kid Blast 01:42pm, 12/10/2018

    Neat article

  2. RollTide 12:22pm, 12/09/2018

    Fury got knocked out. No one disagrees with that. He was out for seconds. Round 9 was a knockdown. Round 12 was a knockout. 

    Getting hit after a knockout is much more dangerous than a normal hit. And sure enough Wilder smacked him hard with a left after he kept going.

    These men need the ref to protect them from their own foolish competitive nature. Reiss failed Fury. Reiss failed Wilder of the deserved KO.

    Insert here the LONG LONG list of fights stopped when a guy hasn’t even fallen and ones where knockout was clear and no count needed. The list is hundreds long.

    Not to mention the whole process where Reiss let Fury put both hands on his shoulder and then take a nice breather of walking across the ring and back letting him recover!

    Don’t let our sick desire for brutality at the utmost wrongly give credit to Reiss for putting Fury at risk. Yes, I want a one punch KO. But that is far safer than KO followed by more punches.

  3. Lucas Mccain 06:50am, 12/09/2018

    A well-deserved tribute.  Though I used to enjoy Mills Lane, he was a bit too much the performer.  Reiss doesn’t think of himself as one of the attractions.  He respects and protects the competitors.

  4. Harvey 08:48am, 12/05/2018

    Jack is consistently the best ref in boxing. I think overall California has the best officials. Texas is a complete joke.

  5. fan 07:00am, 12/05/2018

    Boxing should do ref training to make sure that there is no holding or showboating.

  6. Toby 05:56pm, 12/04/2018

    Jack Reiss has been the best referee in boxing the past 20 years.  Whenever he’s referring you know there won’t be any favoritism .  He lets the fighters fight.  No house fighter bias .  The , Las
    Vegas/Texas / Canadian   referees should learn from him.

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