Referee Tony Weeks on stopping IBF junior welterweight beltholder Lamont Peterson's triumph over ex-titleholder Kendall Holt in the eighth round: "Some fighters just have too much heart, and we have to save them from themselves."
RingTV.com caught up to veteran referee Tony Weeks regarding his role in calling a halt to IBF junior welterweight titleholder Lamont Peterson's eighth-round knockout of ex-beltholder Kendall Holt on Friday night. The bout took place before nearly 3,500 partisan fans at The D.C. Armory in Peterson's home town of Washington, D.C.
Peterson (31-1-1, 16 knockouts) scored knockdowns of Holt (28-6, 16 KOs) in the fourth and sixth rounds, impressively ending a 14-month ring absence following his disputed split-decision victory over Amir Khan earned him the belt at the Washington Convention Center in December of 2011.
A 56-year-old Las Vegas resident who is a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Weeks is among the world's most well-known officials, yet never had worked a fight on the East Coast prior to Peterson-Holt.
"I've lived in Las Vegas since 1995. I have family all over the East Coast. In Baltimore, New Jersey, New York. Actually, this is very special for me," said Weeks this past Thursday.
"Because this my very first time refereeing a fight back East. I've never done a fight in New York's Madison Square Garden, never done one in Atlantic City. I'm talking anywhere on the East Coast. Never done it. But I've always wanted to do a fight out here at home."
Weeks' most recent appearance had been in Las Vegas for a unanimous decision victory by Yuriorkis Gamboa over Michael Farenas for the WBA's interim junior lightweight belt in December.
Weeks was also in the squared circle for September's unanimous decision by RING middleweight champion Sergio Martinez over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. for the WBC's belt, as well as June's 11th-round knockout victory by then-IBF welterweight beltholder Randall Bailey over Mike Jones.
Last May, Weeks also officiated Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s unanimous decision over then-WBA junior middleweight beltholder Miguel Cotto. Weeks was also the third man in the ring for Manny Pacquiao's last victory over Juan Manuel Marquez in their third fight in November of 2011.
Weeks also worked the Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo 2005 Fight of The Year, which ended with a 10th-round stoppage win by Corrales.
Weeks is mentioned in a soon-to-be released book, Third Man In The Ring: 33 of Boxing's Best Referees and Their Stories, co-written by Pat Morley and Mike Fitzgerald.
Other referees discussed in the book include Robert Byrd, Frank Cappuccino, Eddie Cotton, Vic Drakulich, Benjy Esteves, Howard John Foster, Frank Garza, Wayne Kelly, Mills Lane, Sparkle Lee, John McCarthy, Bruce McTavish, Denny Nelson, Mark Nelson, Randy Neumann, John O’Brien, Luis Pabon, Carlos Padilla, Pete Podgorski, Roberto Ramirez, Rafael Ramos, Jack Reiss, Celestino Ruiz, Pat Russell, Gerald Scott, Steve Smoger, Richard Steele, Mickey Vann and Sam Williams.
Weeks addressed Peterson's performance, which ended with Holt getting drilled on the ropes in the eighth, in this Q&A:
RingTV.com: How was your first experience working on the East Coast, and would you like to return?
Tony Weeks: Oh, I would love to come back again. It was special for me because I'm from New York. I'm from Brooklyn. I'm from the East Coast, and that was the first time that my family got to come out to see me referee a fight.
I had all my cousins and my aunts and my uncle. The majority of them are from the Baltimore area, and I had a couple come up from New Jersey.
Hey, I love my family, and I miss them. It was very, very special for me to have them there and to have their support. I love what I'm doing in Las Vegas, but I do miss family. It was a blessing to have them there.
RingTV.com: Can you address the warning you gave Holt for holding in the fifth?
TW: He was holding excessively and initiating all of the holding up to that point. It was obvious that he was holding onto the rope to clear his head or what have you.
It was a good warning to issue the hold on. Because when the referee comes to you to separate them, and you're not responding, and I'm telling you verbally and physically.
If I'm telling you verbally to separate, and I'm physically trying to separate you, and you're still holding onto the ropes, then it's obvious. So at that point, I have to initiate a stern warning.
RingTV.com: Were you ever close to taking a point away from Holt?
TW: You know, it was getting there. But there are several things that you look at. It didn't take any advantage away from Peterson
Because if you look at the fight, whenever Kendall tried to hold him, Lamont was able to use his strength to push him off and to fight back.
So I let it go from that standpoint because it wasn't impeding his progress or interfering with the fight, but it was definitely getting close.
RingTV.com: Earlier in the sixth, prior to the knockdown, when Holt hit the canvas, was that definitely a slip?
TW: Well, I haven't had time to review the tape, but yes, I didn't see any punches landed.
RingTV.com: After the sixth round, when you called the doctor over to look at Holt, what was your thinking there?
TW: That's just a routine thing, you know, just "check on this guy." When you have medical personnel, they can have a view from medical standpoint that I might not see.
It's just like, "hey, give me some advice," or, "is he okay right now?" In a fight this, where there is that much going on, you should just keep a close eye on him.
RingTV.com: Why did you feel that it was the right time to stop it when you did, as opposed to earlier or later?
TW: Well, the first two knockdowns, he was hurt, no doubt about it. But he got up, and as the rounds went on, and he started to move, I saw that Kendall had his legs under him.
So he was okay, and he was okay to move around and use his boxing skills. But as the fight went on, I saw Lamont really start to come on strong.
Being the strong fighter and the heavier puncher, during that last sequence, just before I stopped the fight, Lamont caught him with a good shot. Kendall went up against the ropes.
So I was looking at the expression on his face, and he was really hurt. When he went up against the ropes, and Lamont just landed a barrage of unanswered punches, Kendall didn't respond in any way.
Even though his hands were up, he was still getting hit. The punches were still getting through his guard, and it was time to stop it.
I think that he was trying to get off of the ropes, but he just wasn't able to. A lot of time, the ropes can hold a fighter up.
Prior to that, I don't know if you heard it, but I was going to Kendall's corner and I was warning him. I would say, "You're starting to take some punishment, and if it continues, I'm going to take action on it."
RingTV.com: At what point did you truly begin to take a close look at stopping the fight prior to the end?
TW: I believe that it was after the second knockdown before I stopped the fight.
RingTV.com: Was there any protesting from Kendall's corner?
TW: No. No protest whatsoever. He knew that it was the right call and that the fight was done. There was no protest. Some fighters just have too much heart, and we have to save them from themselves.
Photos by Juan Marshall
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com