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List of Articles by Epifanio M. Almeda



“The referee, inside the ring, is ‘god’”

By Epifanio M. Almeda
PhilBoxing.com
02 Jun 2014



So says veteran international referee Bruce McTavish. Bruce emphasizes the finality of the referee’s ruling in a ring controversy such as to whether or not a cut inflicted on a boxer is caused by an accidental head butt or a legal punch and that, if by a head butt, whether or not it was accidental or intentional. The referee’s ruling, even if erroneous, is final in boxing.

The referee’s ruling on the cut is crucial when the fight is to be stopped after the end of the 4th round to protect the health of the cut boxer. If the cut is caused by a legal punch, the cut boxer loses the fight by technical knockout (TKO). If by an accidental clash of heads, the winner is determined by the judges’ scorecards.

The result of a fight stopped due to a severe cut before the end of the 4th round is declared a technical draw.

But what if the ring “god” does not make a ruling when the cut was inflicted? The presumption would be that the cut is caused by a legal punch.

In the first round of the Donaire-Vetyeka WBA featherweight super championship last 31 May 2014, Donaire was severely cut below the left eyebrow. The referee did not make a ruling. The fight was allowed to continue. The cut became worse and hindered Donaire’s left eyesight making him unfit to continue before the end of the 4th round.

The possibilities as to what happens to the fight are:

1.If a legal punch inflicted the cut, the winner is determined by the scorecards;

2.If the punch was caused by an accidental head butt, the fight would be declared a technical draw since the fight ended before the end of the 4th round.

A ruling was made that the cut was caused by an accidental clash of heads. The ruling was not made by the referee but by the sanctioning body fight supervisor. It was just made to appear that the ruling was made by the ring “god”. Then the bell rang starting the 5th round and as soon as it did, the referee stopped the fight. This supports the decision to go to the scorecards and explains the uniform judges’ scores of 49-46 in the 10-point must system.

Should the rule stay?

If the referee sees all and correctly rules at all times, yes, the rule should stay. But this is not the case. The referee errs and his erroneously ruling perpetuates a wrong. For this reason the rule should not stay.

During the May 14-17, 2014 2nd Philippine Games and Amusements Board Convention held in Manila, WBC Ring Officiating authority Hubert Minn stated that boxing should now go for what is right. An erroneous referee ruling which is not corrected is not going for what is right. Hubert said that in other sports, such as lawn tennis, an immediate video replay immediately settles the controversy as to whether or not a player’s serve or shot is in or out of bounds.

This immediate video replay could be done in boxing. The referee remains the ring ‘god’, albeit, with the aid of an immediate video replay in a circumstance calling for such.

Top photo: Referee Luis Pabon (R) works on the Donaire-Vetyeka fight.


Team Donaire confers after Referee Luis Pabon stopped the fight at the beginning of the 5th round.

Photos by Dong Secuya.


Back to Epifanio M. Almeda's Articles Listing



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