Humberto Soto vs. Francisco Lorenzo I, Las Vegas, 2008
Cortez’s catchphrase is that he’s fair but firm. He was neither in this bout for the vacant WBC 130-pound title on the David Diaz-Manny Pacquiao undercard, which Lorenzo won via bizarre and undeserving fourth-round disqualification after the hall-of-fame referee ruled that Soto intentionally hit the Dominican veteran while he was down.
Soto was in firm command over the first three rounds and appeared to be on his way to a fourth-round stoppage after he scored a knockdown. Lorenzo got up and backpedaled away from Soto as the Mexican closed in for the kill. However, Cortez inexplicably stepped between the two as Soto attacked, momentarily separating the fighters with his hands, before waving them back in. Lorenzo dropped to one knee as Soto missed with a right uppercut and grazed the top of his head with a hook.
Cortez stopped the action to hold a 5-minute conference with a ringside doctor, members of the commission, and WBC officials as Lorenzo, who was bleeding from a bad cut over his right eyelid, played up the drama of the late hit by flopping about the canvas while Cortez discussed the issue with his ringside audience. Finally, the veteran referee disqualified an understandably shocked Soto.
“Point one, this is not an easy sport to officiate,” an agitated Jim Lampley said during the HBO PPV broadcast. “Point two, it is abundantly clear who was the better fighter in this fight. Point three, Francisco Lorenzo was going to the canvas of his own volition.”
When a slow-motion replay of the punch in question was shown, Lampley incredulously exclaimed “That!? That right there is a disqualifying blow?”
Cortez later said that the fighter’s safety had to come first, but if that was the case why did he allow Lorenzo to wallow in his own blood on the canvas like a stuck pig without any attention from a ringside physician for so long?