ARTHUR MERCANTE JR.
Yuri Foreman vs. Miguel Cotto, New York City, 2010
Every other referee on this list made poor calls that gave one fighter an unfair advantage over his opponent. Not Mercante. His decision to allow Foreman to fight after the boxer had blown out his right knee put the brave but defenseless 154-pound beltholder’s health at risk.
Foreman was stopped with a body shot early in the ninth round but he fought the eighth and most of the seventh with torn meniscus and stretching ligaments that needed surgery after the HBO-televised fight. Foreman, who wears a brace on his right knee from a previous biking injury, wanted to continue fighting after the knee gave out in early the seventh. The fight should have been stopped despite Foreman’s courage but it continued because of Mercante‘s misplaced sense of honor.
He told Foreman to “Walk it off, champ” and “Suck it up, kid,” after the knee first gave out. Perhaps that was OK; he was giving the titleholder a chance to show that he could handle the adversity. But when Foreman’s knee gave out a second time midway through the seventh Mercante should have seriously considered stopping the bout or at the very least paused the action and called in a ringside physician to examine the fighter.
He didn’t. He let a crippled fighter exchange hard punches with Cotto for the rest of the round. Mercante had two clear opportunities to stop the fight in the eighth — when Foreman’s knee locked up without him falling down and when the fighter’s corner threw in the towel — but he let it go, tossing everyone who had assumed the bout was over out of the ring.
“Everybody out!” Mercante yelled to the officials and corner men who flooded the ring after the towel was tossed in. “I don’t want to see you lose like that,” he told Foreman.
Mercante, who ignored Foreman’s corner and members of the New York commission by literally forcing the bout to continue, had forgotten that his job is to protect a fighter’s health, not his honor.