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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson

Did Nelson lose control?

By Joaquin Henson
06 Jul 2017

Veteran international boxing referee Bruce McTavish said yesterday Jeff Horn should have been severely warned or deducted points for employing dirty tactics in roughhousing Manny Pacquiao and chastised Mark Nelson, the third man in the ring, for losing control of last Sunday’s WBO welterweight title fight in Brisbane.

McTavish, 76, was a judge in Horn’s fight against Germany’s Rico Mueller in Chandler, Queensland, last October. McTavish and two other judges Adam Height of Australia and Holgen Wiemann of Germany scored it a shutout, 80-72, for Horn before Michigan referee Sam Williams stopped it at 2:19 of the ninth round as the former schoolteacher retained his IBF Intercontinental welterweight crown.

“I never knew Horn to be a dirty fighter,” said McTavish. “When I was a judge in his fight last year, he fought cleanly. I don’t blame Horn for doing what he did against Manny. I blame the referee for letting him get away with murder. It was (legendary Australian fighter) Jeff Fenech who advised Horn to rough up Manny, to fight dirty because that’s the only way he can get an edge. Fenech won that fight, not Horn, because the kid listened to him.”

McTavish said if Nelson took control of the bout early and warned Horn he wouldn’t tolerate shenanigans, Pacquiao would’ve won easily, probably by knockout. “Nelson should’ve told Horn he’d take away points if he did all those things,” said McTavish. “It would've been a different story if Nelson warned him from the start.”

McTavish said there were at least six instances where Horn banged the back of Pacquiao’s head with rabbit punches while holding him down without a single warning. “Nelson should’ve warned him after the first instance that if he did it again, he’d deduct a point,” he said. “Believe me, with a warning, Horn would’ve stopped doing his dirty tricks.”

Regarding the accidental butts that cut up Pacquiao’s scalp on both sides of his head, McTavish said WBO rules don’t stipulate automatic deductions. “In the WBC, it’s an automatic one-point deduction for an accidental butt and if it’s ruled to be deliberate, it’s either a two-point deduction or disqualification,” he said. “In the WBO, it’s not an automatic deduction but a fighter who draws blood from an accidental butt must be warned that another butt would mean a deduction. It’s the same thing with elbowing or rabbit-punching or holding. If you don’t warn a fighter, he’ll keep doing it.”

INCOMPETENT REFEREE: Pacquiao-Horn third man in the ring Mark Nelson (R) allowed Horn to fight dirty.

McTavish noted that Nelson stopped the action at least thrice because of loose tape in Horn’s glove. “That’s a clever tactic but Nelson should’ve been wise to it,” he said. “After one incident of loose tape, Nelson should’ve warned Horn’s corner that another incident will mean a deduction. If he gave that warning, there wouldn’t have been more incidents of loose tape for sure.”

McTavish said it was ridiculous that the three judges didn’t score the ninth stanza 10-8 for Pacquiao because it was so one-sided that Nelson told Horn during the break in between rounds he would stop the fight if the challenger didn’t show signs of recovery. “About 10 to 15 years ago, I sat down with (the late WBC president) Don Jose (Sulaiman) to discuss the possibility of scoring a 10-8 round even without a knockdown,” he said. “Don Jose agreed. In the ninth, I was surprised that all three judges scored it 10-9 for Manny when it should’ve been 10-8. That was elementary----there should’ve been no debate in scoring it 10-8. It was a very close fight. I don’t agree with those who thought Manny won by a landslide. I think Manny won it with a slight edge but it could’ve gone either way.”

McTavish said he noticed Pacquiao slowed down in the 10th round but it wasn’t because of age. “Manny’s age wasn’t the problem,” he said. “I thought Manny gave it his all to knock out Horn in the ninth. All the butting, elbowing, holding and pushing took a toll on Manny. If there’s a rematch and a referee like Kenny Bayless is assigned to make sure Horn won’t get away with dirty tactics, Manny will win and probably score a knockout. But that will depend on Manny himself. It’s tough to be a Senator, basketball player and boxer at the same time.”

McTavish said Nelson’s father Denny was an outstanding referee who retired about 10 years ago. “What’s weird is Nelson gives seminars on refereeing during WBA conventions,” he said. “Unfortunately, he had no control of Sunday’s fight. Because of Nelson, Manny couldn’t do what he usually does in the ring and that gave Horn the chance to make it a close fight with his dirty tactics.”

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