The Money Machine (2018/1938): No Change Here

By Norman Marcus on April 2, 2018
The Money Machine (2018/1938): No Change Here
What was the referee doing? He kept interfering with legitimate action. (Photo: Courtesy)

Mike Jacobs liked to keep Joe Louis fighting in New York. Eddie Hearn likes to keep Joshua fighting in the United Kingdom…

Eighty thousand people were watching the heavyweight title fight Saturday night at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. We had IBF/WBA champion Anthony Joshua from the United Kingdom, taking on WBO champion Joseph Parker, a Samoan from New Zealand. The winner was to bring home three belts at the end of the evening.

So far so good and this is where it gets interesting. Anthony Joshua only fights in the United Kingdom. Why do you think that is? His fights are promoted exclusively by Eddie Hearn. At home Hearn controls all the gate money and that has become huge, since Joshua has become so popular with his fans in the UK. The venue stadiums in the UK are always full to overflowing for Joshua. For this bout, the three experienced judges were Ian Scott (New Zealand), Steven Weisfeld (USA) and Steve Gray (UK). But referee Giuseppe Quartarone was a strange choice. Seems he wasn’t all that well seasoned as a big time ring official. Also his native tongue was not English but Italian. His grasp of the former was weak. Parker claimed that before the fight, they tried to discuss the rules with Referee Quartarone but “he couldn’t speak English.” To be fair to Anthony Joshua, the Brit stated after the bout that referee Quartarone “spoke perfect English.” Someone is not telling the truth.

Now the fight Saturday night was competitive but not very close on the cards. It ended in a UD12 for Joshua. Anthony was bigger, heavier and had a six-inch reach advantage in wingspan (fingertip to finger tip)—which means he could keep Parker at a distance and land his jabs and bombs from long range. Like any boxer with a shorter reach, Joseph wanted to barrel inside and unload at close range on the bigger man’s body. Kill the body and the head will die. At the least, you’ll eventually slow the bigger man down and set him up for some power shots to the head, perhaps a knockdown or better yet a KO.

That did not have a chance to happen on Saturday night because there were three men in the ring instead of two. The third man was the referee Giuseppe Quartarone. A good referee is supposed to be nearly invisible while doing his job. Quartarone was anything but. He was everywhere in this fight. A loose piece of tape stopped the action several times at key moments. Joshua’s corner just couldn’t seem to wrap the loose tape up. Even Quartarone himself tried to fix it mid round, instead of Joshua’s corner. The referee continued to jump between the two fighters all through the bout. Never letting Parker close with Joshua, which was Parker’s plan. Joe had to get inside to land his punches; it never really happened.

“Break, break, break!” barked the referee. Again Joshua would go back to his long range attack. The Showtime broadcasting team was also puzzled by the bizarre actions of Quartarone. Many of the fans in the stadium were booing his antics. It looked more like a sparring session in a gym, with a trainer often stopping the fighters, to explain fundamentals. Whatever happened to just letting the two guys fight? Outside of deliberate fouls or injury to a boxer, why stop the action at all? It’s a fight, right?

Fighting on the inside, short punching, clinching, it’s all allowed. What was the referee doing? The guy just kept bouncing around the ring, interfering with legitimate action.

The only thing similar that I can compare this to is a famous fight in the career of the Brown Bomber, Joe Louis in 1938.

Joe’s promoter was a famous little guy named Mike Jacobs. Louis fought most of his championship fights in New York State. All of his fights for Jacobs had a guy named Arthur Donovan as the referee. He worked for Uncle Mike. Joe was a great fighter but Donovan was there, just in case a fight was very close. He was there for insurance to make sure the Louis money machine got a square deal in the ring. 

The Louis/Schmeling fight in 1938 at Yankee Stadium was a rematch after Schmeling had knocked Louis out there in 1936. A lot was on the line that night. Joe was the heavyweight champion by then and no one including President Roosevelt wanted the title going back to Nazi Germany, with a war coming on. America didn’t want the title held by a German superman, who was a personal friend of Hitler and all the other top Nazis. It would have been horrendous for wartime morale and propaganda.

Anyway, the fight lasted exactly 2:04, with Joe unloading on Max from the opening bell. The short fight ended in great controversy. Donovan stated, “Louis landed two paralyzing kidney punches but they didn’t lose the fight for Schmeling. Max was half way to dreamland when Joe unleashed them. Neither were they fouls. A kidney punch is only a foul when a fighter holds and batters the kidneys repeatedly. Straight shots that land in that region are fair.” Now suppose a different referee in a different venue saw those punches as unfair? Different venues and officials can matter, unless you knock your opponent out. No one can argue with a clean KO.

Well Referee Donovan counted Max Schmeling out to the cheers of the hometown crowd in the ballpark and everywhere in America. Arthur Donovan said, “It was a fair punch, that’s what I was there for to see that everything was fair. Louis first hit Schmeling with a left hook.” Donovan could have instead deducted two points from Louis and given Schmeling up to five minutes to recover, before the fight resumed, but he didn’t.

The next day the German Consul in New York appealed the Louis decision, insisting it was an illegal blow. Schmeling stated, “It was a right swing on the left kidney.” It absolutely paralyzed me. It was a foul blow absolutely.” The New York State Boxing Commission, however, upheld the KO. Who knows what the outcome would have been if the fight was held out of New York or in another country. Mike Jacobs liked to keep Louis’s fights in New York. Eddie Hearn likes to keep Joshua fighting in the United Kingdom. Eighty years separate these two bouts and the actors involved. It seems nothing has changed much.

It’s all about control and the politics of the sport.

Promoters try to minimize the chances of bad things happening to their fighter. What would have happened if Parker had been allowed to bang on the inside all night long? We will never know. Giuseppe Quartarone saw to that on Saturday night. Eddie Hearn has already stated that they will not give Joe Parker a rematch anytime soon. The money machine is safe for now in the UK.

There is nothing like fighting at home. You got the crowd, the press, everything going for you. Each camp does what it can to give their fighter the edge.

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  1. Your Name 01:37pm, 04/03/2018

    Joshua v. Parker was just a choreographed ballet. They just make some money dancing around like ballerinas.

  2. Balaamsass 11:27am, 04/03/2018

    That is one crazy ass photo above when you consider that it was taken during an uncalled for break in the action! Some fighters get old during the course of a fight ....this is a new one because referee Quartarone displayed early signs of Alzheimers in this fight!

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