Report and Photos by Boxing Bob Newman
Day four of the 29th annual IBF convention in Honolulu, HI was largely composed of the ring officials seminars for both judges and referees. The opening session was a comprehensive judges seminar and ABC certification conducted by veteran judge Duane Ford. Long time referees Jack Reiss and Robert Byrd later conducted the referees seminar.
A ring official since 1979 Ford, served on the Nevada State Athletic Commission and was its chairperson from 1984-90. Ford later helped form and serves as president of the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC). At the outset of the judges seminar, Ford outlined the importance of ethics, conduct, preparation as a judge. Scoring criteria was without question at the forefront of discussion during the seminar. The scoring tenets of clean punches, defense, effective aggression and ring generalship were examined and interpreted. Examples of each of these criteria were then viewed on a large screen, as seen in several noteworthy fights of recent years. Select rounds of Oscar De La Hoya – Ricardo Mayorga, Jesus Chavez – Erik Morales, Yuriorkis Gamboa – Orlando Salido, Sergio Martinez – Matthew Macklin, Kevin Kelly – Derrick Gainer, Robert Guerrero – Michael Katsidis were among the partial fights reviewed. There were cases of knockdowns, very even fighting in close quarters and even fouling which affected the judges’ views and scores in those particular rounds. At the end of the scoring practicum, the ABC judges written exam was administered.
After a lunch break, the referees seminar was conducted, as was the case last year, by referees Robert Byrd and Jack Reiss. Reiss has been a referee for fourteen years, starting in California, while Byrd began his career as a ref in 1981, also in California, before relocating to Nevada in 2001.
Reiss briefly called on father and son referees Roberto Ramirez Sr. and Jr. to stand and be recognized. Both men were recently involved in the two tremendous wars between Orlando Salido and Juan Manuel Lopez in Puerto Rico. Lopez suffered TKO losses in each bout and later accused both father and son of being gamblers and having a vested interest in the outcome of the fight. Reiss applauded both refs for standing up publicly against the accusations of “Juanma,” ironically a fellow Puerto Rican. Both men received a round of applause from their fellow ring officials.
Reiss began by reviewing blatant foul situations in recent boxing history: the low blows of both Golota-Bowe fights, Hamed-Soto tackles, Concepcion-Luevano knockout after the bell, Judah-Mayweather low blow and ring melee afterward, Trinidad-Vargas retaliation low blow, Hatton-Tszyu retaliation low blow, and so forth. Reiss then visited the concept of incidental fouls and stressed the old adage of “No harm, no foul.”
Referee Pat Russell took the mic during a review of the first Hopkins-Dawson match in which Hopkins suffered a shoulder injury after being thrown to the canvas by Dawson. The initial ruling by Russell was a TKO for Dawson. Eventually, after a hearing by the California Athletic Commission, the ruling was changed to a “No decision,” with Hopkins retaining his title. Russell had testified at that hearing that in hind sight, it should have been a no decision all along.
Robert Byrd then conducted scenarios in the ring, utilizing two local amateur boxers who carried out those pre-determined scenarios, to test participating referees’ skills in addressing each scenario. Situations included double knockdowns, low blows, a fighter trying to return immediately to fighting after being knocked down without taking the mandatory eight count. After the practical ring session, a written test was administered to the gathered officials.