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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson



Swan song for McTavish?

By Joaquin Henson
PhilBoxing.com
28 May 2019



Veteran international referee Bruce McTavish leaves early this morning for Bangkok to work what he said will be his final assignment as the third man in the ring in WBC minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin’s 11th title defense against Japan’s Tatsuya Fukuhara on Friday.

“It’s time to give the younger guys a chance, to help others get to the next level,” said McTavish, a New Zealand native who received his naturalized status as a Filipino citizen only last year despite living here since 1967 and a wait of over a decade. “I’ve had a long, good run. I’ll still carry on as a boxing judge. I’m honored by this assignment because Wanheng, not Floyd Mayweather, holds the record for most wins in a perfect career as an undefeated world champion.”

Wanheng, 33, boasts a record of 52-0, with 18 KOs, and has turned back 10 challengers since wresting the 105-pound crown from Mexico’s Oswaldo Novoa via a ninth round TKO in 2014. The fight against Fukuhara is a rematch as Wanheng beat the Japanese on points in his eighth defense in 2017. It will be held in Chachoengsao, 83 kilometers east of Bangkok.

McTavish’s wife Carmen Tayag, however, said she’s not sure if it will be his swan song. “He’s been talking about retiring for years but I remember he once told me he wants to beat the record of Arthur Mercante who was a referee until 81,” she said. “Bruce is really fit, in good shape. He’s very active. He runs six kilometers five days a week. I can’t see him hanging around the house for too long. Let’s wait and see what happens.”

McTavish, 78, said his proudest moment as a referee is when he’s introduced as coming from the Philippines. “Don King once wanted me to referee in the US but since I had to be a US citizen to get a license, I turned it down,” said McTavish. “The Philippines is my home, my life, my family. I wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world. I’m proud to be a Filipino.”

McTavish has worked over 150 world title fights as a referee and was named WBC Referee of the Year thrice. For 14 years, he was the main lecturer in referee seminars at the WBC Convention. Among the top referees McTavish trained were Kenny Bayless, Joe Cortez and Richard Steele. “Kenny’s a humble guy and a good man,” he said. “I recall teaching him how not to get caught on the blind side during a fight but when Manny (Pacquiao) fought Sugar Shane Mosley, Kenny got caught. He called a knockdown on Manny who went down on a trip. Kenny was on the blind side and later admitted his mistake and apologized to Manny.”

McTavish refereed six Pacquiao fights, including his last in the country against Oscar Larios at the Big Dome in 2006. The other Pacquiao bouts that McTavish worked were against Panomdej Ohyuthnakom in Koronadal in 1997, Arnel Barotillo at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium in 2000, Seung Kong Chae at the Araneta Coliseum in 2000, Wethya Sakmuangklang in Kidapawan in 2001 and Fahprakorb Rakkiat-Gym in Davao City in 2002.

“I’ll never forget Manny was like my son when my buddy from Angeles City, Rick Staheli, was his trainer for the WBC flyweight title fight against Chatchai Sasakul in Bangkok in 1998,” said McTavish. “Then, as a Senator, Manny helped push the paperwork for my naturalization and became my older brother. It’s a blessing that during my career as a referee and judge, Manny came along and made our country proud.”

Photo: Bruce McTavish (in coat) with former Filipino world champions (from left) Erbito Salavarria, Rene Barrientos and Rolando Navarrete.


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