Q&A: Glen Hamada

By Ray Wheatley–World of Boxing

Photo: IPRO

World championship judge Glen Hamada talks to Fightnews about how he first became interested in boxing watching Friday Night Fights on TV during the 1950’s which featured Floyd Patterson, Luis Rodriguez and Gene Fullmer in action, and how he has worked on world title bouts since 1984 featuring outstanding world champions such as Larry Holmes, Bernard Hopkins, Kostya Tszyu and Michael Nunn. Glen also talks about the Vic Darchinyan vs. Abner Mares bout which he worked, how Ike Ibeabuchi could have been champ and also the work he does for the IPRO.

You have been officiating world championship title bouts since 1984.You now reside in Washington. You also lived in Hawaii. Could you tell me where your involvement in boxing first began? Did members of your family box?

My involvement began when I was in grade school in Watsonville, California as I went to the boys club at night and climbed into the ring only to get beaten up by kids who were better than me. I began watching the Friday Night Fights during the late 1950’s and began watching fighters such as Floyd Patterson, Gene Fulmer, Eddie Machen, Ralph Tiger Jones, Ralph Dupas and Luis Rodriguez and many more. Years later I met Bobby Lee of Hawaii who encouraged me to get involved in officiating amateur boxing and then moving up to the professional ranks.

You were an official when Larry Holmes captured the IBF heavyweight title in November 1984 by stopping James Bonecrusher Smith in twelve rounds. Referee Davey Pearl stopped the fight at 2:10. Holmes was one of the first champions to hold the IBF belt. Where do you rate Larry Holmes among the great heavyweight champions?

Larry Holmes was one of the top heavyweights of his era. It is difficult to rank a champion from one era and compare him to another. Who would win if he fought Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Jack Dempsey, Jack Johnson or Vladimir Klitscliko? You also hear the old adage that styles make for a good or exciting fight. Also, the size of the fighters have changed in the last 100 years as well as the number of rounds. Could the heavyweights of today go 15 rounds or more?

In 1987 you worked on IBF heavyweight title bout when Tony Tucker stopped James Buster Douglas in ten rounds. Did it surprise you that three years later in 1990 in Tokyo Japan Douglas would KO Mike Tyson in ten rounds to win the world heavyweight title in one of the biggest upsets in the history of boxing. Your thoughts.

The excitement about boxing is that you cannot anticipate what is about to occur. James Buster Douglas was in very good shape going into his fight with Mike Tyson and it is evident that he had a great training camp. We have all seen upsets: Ali’s knock out of Sonny Liston early in his career. Then later in his career fights George Forman and knocks him out. Thus, looking back at boxing history, who would have thought Ingamar Johansen KO’s Floyd Patterson who was trained by Cus D’Amato. Then years later an unusual event occurs in that another Cus D’Amato champion, Mike Tyson is KO’s by Buster Douglas against heavy odds. It goes to show you that one can never predict what can happen in the ring.

Michael Nunn was an outstanding world middleweight champion. You worked several of his world title bouts. Nunn has been imprisoned for several years. How good was he? Where do you rate him as a world middleweight champion? Your thoughts.

Michael Nunn was a very elusive and a smart fighter. He was one of the top middleweights in his era as he defeated Iran Barkley and Marlon Starling. He later fought James Toney and was KO’d ending his rein as the middleweight champion.

In 2001 you were an official when Kostya Tszyu stopped Zab Judah in two rounds. Tszyu is recognized as one of the greatest 140 pound champions in the history of the sport and will be inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in June. Please give me your thoughts about the Tszyu vs Judah bout.

This fight did not last very long as Kostya Tszyu hurt Zab Judah and knocked him down. Judah was hurt and was in trouble staying on his feet. The referee stepped in and called the fight as Judah was incapable of defending himself.

In 1999 you worked as an official on the Chris Byrd vs. Ike Ibeabuchi in Washington. Byrd was stopped in five rounds by Ibeabuchi. The Nigerian heavyweight was imprisoned after this fight. Ibeachuchi was an outstanding heavyweight who also defeated David Tua in 1997. Where do you rate Ibeabuchi. Could he have been world champion? Your thoughts.

Ibeabuchi was a rising star in the heavyweight ranks after his KO win over Byrd. He was like a young Sonny Liston in that he was extremely strong and powerful. He would muscle Byrd against the ropes and punch to the body and then go up to the head. He was much heavier and bigger than Byrd and his brute strength was the factor in his KO. He may have become a champion, it’s too bad he was incarcerated during the peak of his career.

In 1998 you were an official when future Hall-Of-Famer Bernard Hopkins defended the IBF middleweight title against Robert Allen in Las Vegas. Does it surprise you that Bernard is still at the top of his game 13 years later at the age of 46 years with his recent WBC light heavyweight title bout draw against Jean Pascal? Your thoughts on Hopkin’s.

The Marine Corp taught me a valuable lesson in life and that is the meaning of “Discipline”. Years later while attending the IBF Convention in Phoenix, Arizona, I am reminded how disciplined the convention guest, Bernard Hopkins was in what he ate and drank. The hotel had a workout gym and when I went to the gym to work out, I noticed the champion, Bernard Hopkins was on the tread mill running at 6:00 a.m. It does not surprise me that Hopkins is in terrific shape and continues to look sharp in the ring in his last fight at the age of 46 against Pascal. He must be a very disciplined person.

In 2010 you worked the SHOWTIME super six bantamweight battle between Vic Darchinyan and Abner Mares. In a great fight Mares was awarded a split decision. Could I have your thoughts on this bout?

The fight between Darchinyan vs. Mares was a very close fight indeed. Many of the rounds were extremely close. Both fighters left their hearts in the ring as they battled to the final bell. The fans were treated to a great contest and the fans may like to see a rematch someday.

Can you tell me about the work you do with IPRO?

I am fortunate to be involved with “Friends of IPRO”, a non-profit charitable organization to try to help boxers in need. This is the biggest boxing bout that I am involved with. The organization raises money by auctioning boxing memorabilia and then donating the proceeds. We auction the boxing memorabilia each year at the International Professional Ring Officials Training Camp. One of the most moving experiences I had when I received a call from a former champion who is suffering from a condition of “pugilistic dementia” thanking the organization for their help. We work very hard to try to find deserving boxers who have fallen on hard times and try our best to help them.

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