In boxing, the job of the referee is to enforce the rules of the sport. Often referred to as the “Third man in the ring,” it is both rewarding, and often mixed with controversy.
The role as referee requires both skill and stamina and can be very demanding on both. The referee must be unbiased, setting aside any opinion of the fighters. He, or she must tune out the crowd and focus on the task at hand.
Before the fight, the referee gives instructions to both fighters, ensuring they know what is expected. It may look easy, but many task take place during a fight. Determining the start or stop of a fight, signaling when the round is over and when a round begins. It is timed with precision and many things can happen and no matter what, timing is everything.
It is the referee who must determine when a foul has occurred and if a warning, or points must be deducted. A bout can quickly get out of hand if the referee is not stern, often getting booed by the crowd for doing so. The referee must tune out the crowd and focus on the bout,surely easier said than done.
Many times during a fight, the referee will be tested. If a fighter is hurt, the referee must determine if the fighter is able to continue. Many times it will not be a popular call, often drawing boos from the crowd, but the referee has the safety and well being of the fighter as the main priority. At times it can be a double-edged sword, fans want to see action, it’s what they pay to see and revenue dollars are at stake if the fight is televised. If a fight is stopped early, the referee is blamed, but we must realize that the referee is in the ring and has the closest pair of eyes on the fighters and can see and hear what the crowd can’t. If the fight is stopped the referee will surely be blamed, if the fight isn’t stopped and a fighter is seriously injured, or dies in the ring the referee is blamed.
A boxing referee can take years to master, it’s something that can’t just be learned in a text book, it doesn’t come with an owners manual. There are many great referee’s in the game today. One of them is veteran referee Tony Weeks of the Nevada Athletic Commission, he is fan friendly and has worked many championship bouts.
Weeks, regarded as one of the best referee’s in boxing displayed the role of referee to perfection this past weekend in the Terence Crawford-Dierry Jean bout.
Crawford, clearly the bigger fighter in regards to size dropped Jean in the first round. From that point, Weeks had the burden of safety as a priority. Jean beat the count and the fight continued and Weeks did a great job officiating this fight. In round ten, Crawford landed some hard blows to the head of Jean, knocking him into the ropes. Week’s had seen enough and stopped the bout, preventing serious injury to Dierry Jean. What many fans fail realize is that the effects of serious blows to the head can appear long after a fight. It was the right call by Tony Weeks, agree or not, Jean was spared serious injury and will fight another day.
The role of referee requires passion, such is the case for Tony Weeks. It’s passion that separates the greats and sets them on a perch in class all alone. Because of this, Weeks is often called upon for his expertise in the ring, his experience and knowledge for the sweet science is respected worldwide.
atombash.com asked Tony Weeks yesterday who he sought advice from and looked up to as a referee. Weeks said, “I looked up to and sought advice from Richard Steele, Larry Hazzard, Arthur Merconte, Zach Clayton, Joe Cortez, Bobby Ferrara and Al Munoz, they all paved the way in showing me how to do it right.”
The point is this, referee’s like boxing fans are human. Sometimes mistakes will be made, but when things go right, the boxing referee is the difference between watching a good fight or a bad fight and they all deserve respect.