RingTV.com caught up to referee Steve Smoger on Monday regarding his role in Saturday night’s sixth-round technical knockout victory by junior middleweight James Kirkland over Glen Tapia at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
Following the fourth round, Tapia sat on his corner stool peering into the light froma pen-light held by Blair Bergen, the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board’s ringside physician, who was examining him following what had been a brutal round-ending assault by his southpaw rival.
After a fast start in that included having been wobbled by Tapia in the first round, Kirkland had out-landed his 23-year-old rival 73-to-15 in fourth-round power blows.
“Glen was competitive early on,” said Smoger. “But James’ work rate took over late in Round 2, and from then on, he dominated.”
Following his examination, Bergan stepped away from Tapia and shared his thoughts with a nearby Smoger, who subsequently relayed Bergan’s findings to Tapia.
“If you take any more of those severe head shots,” said Smoger, leaning in, “then I’ve gotta stop it.”
Smoger spoke more about his conversation with Bergan on Monday.
“The doctor told me that any head shots and that was it,” said Smoger. “So that was my directive.”
Tapia responded with a valiant effort early in the fifth, landing a right-left-right, all to the head, of an oncoming Kirkland. Another right-left-right sequence was followed by consecutive hard left hands that shook Kirkland.
A pair of successive left hooks quaked Kirkland later in the fifth as well but the 29-year-old was able to absorb them, too. By the end of the fifth, Tapia was taking heavy blows both to the head and body.
With the fighter back on his stool between rounds, Bergan again looked at Tapia, who took another 24 punches — many while pinned on the ropes for the final sequence — before Smoger stopped the fight at the 38-second mark.
“I had consulted with the physician between rounds four and five and rounds five and six,” said Smoger, “and, according to the doctor, Glen was responsive and his corner had asked for one more round.”
On Sunday, Tapia’s manager Pat Lynch, said the boxer was “doing fine” and that a CAT scan at an Atlantic City hospital returned negative following bout, which took place on the undercard Guillermo Rigondeaux‘s unanimous decision over Joseph Agbeko at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
“He’s doing well. His ego is bruised more than anything, but he’s doing fine. We went to the hospital for precautionary reasons, and they did a CAT scan, and everything. We were there for about two or three hours, maybe at the most. He was back, but he’s feeling down and out,” said Lynch.
“He felt that he didn’t fight his fight and he kind of felt like he was in cement, he told me. He felt like he couldn’t get off and he was wondering why. But Kirkland’s a beast when Kirkland’s on. He hurt Kirkland in the first and he hurt Kirkland in the third, and we couldn’t get it done. Thank God he’s safe, and he’s fine, and he’ll live to fight another day.”
Tapia (20-1, 12 knockouts) was coming off of September’s fifth-round knockout of Elco Garcia as part of Top Rank’s Solo Boxeo Tecate card in Atlantic City before facing Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs). Tapia had also come up with a bloody eighth-round technical knockout victory over Abraham Han in July.
“Glen is a tough, game kid, and there’s no quit in him, and sometimes, that can get a little scary. He was saying to me, ‘Look, I’ll take a few weeks off and then go back to the gym. But I said, ‘No, just wait a little bit,’” said Lynch of Tapia, who turns 24 on Wednesday.
“We’re fine. There’s no rush for anything. I was with his mother and father this morning and I told them that it was a situation that I just wanted to double-check. We were all together this morning and I mentioned that to his parents and that’s the route we’re going to take.”