Was “Double S” Off His Game?

By Ted Sares on February 26, 2012
Was “Double S” Off His Game?
There are many fans that seem to worship at the altar of referee "Double S" Steve Smoger

“Smoger should have known better. Jones hasn’t been able to take a clean punch in years. Lebedev had him unconscious standing up. Poor Roy got creamed with another right hook that wasn’t necessary. That’s on Smoger. I have all the respect in the world for Smoger, and he didn’t make this idiotic fight, but he shouldn’t have let Roy take that last shot.”—Scott Christ

“Double S,” as he is often referred to by Hall Of Famer Michael Buffer, has worked many an international venue and has become well known to global boxing fans. In fact, Buffer introduced him as “The International Steve Smoger” before the Maidana-Alexander bout in St. Louis—begging the question how is Smoger (as an East Coast based official) able to get such juicy assignments elsewhere while other highly competent, albeit local referees, are passed over? But that’s another blog for another day.

Speaking of the Maidana-Alexander fight, SS appeared somewhat sluggish. His tolerance of allowing both fighters to hold and hit during the first three rounds inspired normally docile Harold Lederman to launch an unabashed criticism of Steve between the third and fourth stanzas. SS also missed a knockdown, failed to issue hard warnings to both fighters about butting and rabbit punching, was often out of position, and was too intrusive and overly vocal throughout—and this from a guy who is known to let fighters fight. At one point I actually thought the fight was getting out of control. I also noted that Steve has slowed down some perhaps because he has recently added some girth.

I’m not suggesting a pattern, but I didn’t like the way he handled the stoppage in the Cotto-Margarito affair as he looked to the doctors for a noncontroversial way out when he had the authority to stop the fight on his own. Conversely, I didn’t like the way he let Pawel Wolak continue against Delvin Rodriquez (during their first fight) even though the New Jersey warrior’s eye looked worse than Margarito’s. And I clearly did not like the way Smoger let Roy Jones Jr. take unnecessary and dangerous punishment from Denis Lebedev that left Roy face down on the canvas in a scary scene in Moscow.

There are many fans that seem to worship at the altar of referee Steve Smoger. I’m not one of them. In the end, however, there is no question that Smoger someday will be inducted into the IBHOF. After all, once the extended Boxing Establishment narrows its focus on someone, you can almost predict the year that person will be inducted.

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  1. Tony Capoocia 11:31am, 03/01/2012

    I watched the fight and felt that Steve was off. For a guy that has been one of the best it didn’t show last night.

  2. jofre 08:27am, 03/01/2012

    Every era in boxing has had its seamy side. We’ve had fixed fights dating back to before McGovern-Gans, mob controlled boxing (Carbo era, etc), monopolies (IBC, Managers Guild in the 1950s, etc). But this era has taken it to a new level of sleaziness and confusion.  It all started with the creation of the alphabets fracturing titles, creating new in-between divisions in order to satisfy their greed for sanctioning fees. This has led to less competitive fights than any other time in my lifetime following boxing. I too am jaded and have lost my onetime insatiable appetite to watch any fight that I could attend or watch on TV.

  3. pugknows 08:51pm, 02/28/2012

    It’s interesting that Hauser say “Boxing is a cesspool.”  Wonder if he realizes that he is part of the reason why. His continual overreach matches Boxing Scene’s initials.

  4. pugknows 08:49pm, 02/28/2012

    Ethical???????????? Read Hauser’s article about this gnome.

  5. the thresher 05:10pm, 02/28/2012


    uh oh

  6. the thresher 03:11pm, 02/28/2012

    Thanks, Mary Lynn

  7. Mary Lynn McDavid (Canton) 02:00pm, 02/28/2012

    I was in Manchester, England when Ezra Sellers fought Carl “Cat” Thompson.  It was surreal.  Both were up and down all throughout the fight.  No other referee other than Steve Smoger could have done this fight and brought it to a rightful conclusion.  Amazing referee—the best in the business—and the most ethical—from my viewpoint. 

    2001-11-26 189¾ Ezra Sellers 190 23-4-0    
    Wythenshawe Forum, Manchester, Lancashire, United Kingdom L KO 4 12x3

  8. the thresher 04:32pm, 02/27/2012

    Many of my referee friends agree that SS was off.

  9. raxman 02:33pm, 02/27/2012

    RE - “golden era of boxing benovolence"i love it! you’re touching on a common problem amongst fans of our sport - the wearing of ruby glasses when looking back 30-50years.  coz as we know, no one ever was robbed, no one ever ducked or cherry picked and boxing was run by saints and alter boys. 
    there’s one of my countryman that comments on this site that can’t analyze any modern day fighters without comparing them to those of the 80’s.
    but it doesnt even matter if things were better in the old days - to quote my favourtie tv show the wire’s character slim charles - the thing about the old days is - they’re the old days!

  10. TEX HASSLER 02:05pm, 02/27/2012

    Looking over the years, Steve is a good referee. He may have fumbled the ball a few times but he has done a good job. Maybe he was day dreaming a time or two but then that can get a fighter killed.

  11. bk don 01:53pm, 02/27/2012

    I agree smoger has lost a step, but I think when he was on top of his game he was one of the best refs in the sport. I didn’t notice the add’tl “girth” though. I always thought he was a bit round.lol I really felt like the roy ko came out of nowhere. I mean, he wasn’t taken a hellacious beating b4 those final seconds and it certainly appeared like he would make it to the final bell. Kenny bayless and tony weeks, off the top of my head, or some of the guys who i consider to be the best in the sport right now.

  12. the thresher 01:04pm, 02/27/2012

    And if what you say is true; namely, that it’s always been this way, then that makes it all the worse.

  13. the thresher 01:03pm, 02/27/2012

    Times have changed. We now have online writers replacing writers who did it for a living.

    We now have a connection between GBP, Ring Mag, BWAA, IBHOF, that we never had before.

    We now have a way to show our disgust in a way we never could before. This post is an example of that.

    To say it’s always been that way is to lay down and let them walk over you. I say it’s time writers started calling it what it is—-a way for a few to get rich at the expense of the many. In many ways, it’s like Wall Street.

    But I get and respect what you are saying

  14. Robert Ecksel 12:57pm, 02/27/2012

    the thresher—When wasn’t boxing slime-ridden? When weren’t there hordes of incompetents posing as know-it-alls? When did the few not control the destiny of the many? If you would isolate those golden eras of boxing benevolence, I’d be willing to ride a time machine back there to get a good look for myself.

  15. the thresher 12:52pm, 02/27/2012

    Things are so political that unless you are prepared to kiss some slimy ass (or perhaps even worse), you will find yourself blacklisted, blackballed, and in the case of some referees, without work because they had the courage to speak up. I tell you, the underbelly here is as corrupt as it can get.

  16. the thresher 12:48pm, 02/27/2012

    It’s going to take a lot more than one exciting fight to slow down my waning interest in what has become a slime-ridden business.

    What goes on in the ring is fine. What goes on outside of the ring is not fine. The extended family of boxing is dysfuntional and conflict-ridden. A few are calling the shots for the many because the many are afriad to challenge the few. Well, I am one person who is not afraid. I’m just plain sick of jock sniffing, hero worshipping, pompous snits writing as if they were ringside to a fight that took place in 1973. I’m sick of promoters enjoying the chattel situation boxers find themselves in. I’m sick of bad decsions and bad stoppages. I’m sick of the entire scene. Are you feeling me here? Well are YOU??

  17. jofre 12:40pm, 02/27/2012

    Robert you are 100 % on about the number of boxing fiascos we’ve all suffered through in our lifetimes. But give me an exciting fight and I’m back. Unfortunately, nowadays there are fewer moments of excitement than in the past.

  18. the thresher 11:36am, 02/27/2012

    Ward-Leija was a more than a bummer. It was theft. Iyt also screwed up Ward’s career for a bit while enchancing JJL’s. That’swhy it was a bummer deluxe. It had collateral damage.

    JJL had blamed Camacho Junior for doing the same thing that he did to Ward. May he rot in hell for such cowardice—though Gatti got a measure of revenge against him.

  19. Robert Ecksel 11:03am, 02/27/2012

    Jofre—Ward-Leija was a bummer. No doubt about it. But the number of fiascos that grate on me is as long as the Mississippi. Boxing still is, to my mind, warts and all, not just the best game in town, but the only game in town.

  20. jofre 09:48am, 02/27/2012

    Robert, I second your second. The late Arturo Gatti would have been proud. Also, The Ward-Leija fiasco still grates on me! Talk about conflict of interest.

  21. Robert Ecksel 09:05am, 02/27/2012

    Irish Frankie—I second that emotion.

  22. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 09:01am, 02/27/2012

    Santana had both hands broken this past Friday and he was still firing away at the final bell. Fighters are a breed unto themselves…..they are the elite in the sports universe and deserve to be treated as such.

  23. the thresher 09:00am, 02/27/2012

    “I could get into how Dickie Cole’s boy Larry screwed over Micky in San Antonio but I’ll leave that for another day”.

    Every time I think of that theft in plain sight, I want to vomit. I lost all respect for Leja after that farce. Maybe I’ll write about it—again. But I go bonkers just thinking about that robbery.

  24. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 08:04am, 02/27/2012

    I still say he denied Micky Ward a chance to really go to work on Diaz in the ninth round, when after eight nasty rounds Micky finally landed his overhand right and hurt Diaz. Smoger took that precise moment to call time to mop up the canvas….indicating to me at least, that there was some kind of a disconnect between him and what was really going on in the ring at the time! I could get into how Dickie Cole’s boy Larry screwed over Micky in San Antonio but I’ll leave that for another day.

  25. the thresher 06:45am, 02/27/2012

    Jofre has the beat (again)

  26. jofre 05:58am, 02/27/2012

    I agree pugknows. Smoger looks like he has lost a step. I think it’s time for the commissions to evaluate him. His brain freeze in the Roy Jones fight is very disturbing. It reminds me of what happen to Ruby Goldstein in the Griffith-Paret III fight. Ruby was one of the best refs circa 1950s-early 1960s. Like any athlete Smoger may now be well past his prime.

  27. john coiley 02:05am, 02/27/2012

    maybe referees suffer internal “feedback” from the blows they observe?

  28. pugknows 10:11pm, 02/26/2012

    Another short and concise piece of writing by the word magician. Smoger reminds me of a gnome. He is very high wasted and getting fatter with each fight he refs.

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