Lem Satterfield

Q&A: Referee Smoger discusses Khan-Peterson, Cotto-Margarito II stoppage

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Khan had a point deducted in both the seventh and 12th rounds by Virginia’s Joe Cooper, who was chosen by the Washington, D.C., Boxing and Wrestling Commission from a list of four judges provided by the IBF, according to the organization’s Championships Chairman, Lindsay Tucker.

Khan was penalized for pushing Peterson’s head down in the seventh, and for shoving Peterson away in the 12th. Others on the list of referees provided by the IBF included New Jersey’s Eddie Cotton, Pennsylvania’s Ernest Sharif and Michigan’s Sam Williams.

RingTV.com: Your thoughts on the Khan-Peterson fight and the sentiment surrounding the penalties assessed against Khan by the referee?

Steve Smoger: Well I can’t comment on a fellow brother referee, but I will tell you that in my career, I have never seen such an accentuation on the “foul of pushing.”

In my view, a fighter who is endeavoring to evade a clinch or move out can sometimes try to execute what may appear to be a push, but he’s seeking an advantage in order that he get his inside combinations off.

If one fighter is endeavoring to clinch, and another fighter — I always maintain that if a fighter does not want to be held, then he can work his way out.

Sometimes that entails breaking away from the other fighter, which could be conceived as “pushing.” In my career, I have never — N-E-V-E-R– taken a point for pushing.  

So I want to comment not on Joe Cooper. He’s a friend of mine. He saw fit to implement it in that regard, but you could say that I would not have done it. I would not have taken points in that situation there. 

I have worked Amir Khan’s fights. I had him with Paulie Malignaggi. He was respectful, and he was clean and I had no problems with him. I accept his explanation that he was weary of Lamont Peterson’s head.

RingTV.com: Overall, in your estimation, was Khan-Peterson a clean, action-packed fight?

SS: I would have in essence, I may have issued a warning when there was an elbow involved. And there was an elbow involved on one of Khan’s pushes. Then, I would have given a warning.

Because that could have been considered illegal use of an elbow. But I would not have taken points. Clearly I would not have taken points. Whatever he did that night did not rise to that level. Point deductions are very, very severe.

And if you want a textbook case on why you have to be very, very careful in taking points, you just saw a referee inject himself to the degree that his decision-making changed two world titles on one night.

You understand what I’m saying? Without those two points, Khan would have won on either a majority decision or unanimous decision. So if ever there was a textbook case of being very, very careful with point deduction, that’s it.

This is the one that will be debated at seminars, because a title changed hands not only on the fighters’ skill and will, but the onus on the decision-making was in the hands of the referee. And I don’t feeel that was warranted.

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