The technical in TKO is about as familiar as the black bow-tie that identifies a referee. It’s a one-word statement, a quick summary of the result. But no single word, much less one third of an old acronym, can ever explain what happened. Or how it happened. Stoppages are often subjective. Sometimes, they’re timely. Sometimes, they’re trouble.
In the end, none are officially remembered as technical, anyway. In the published record attached to every fighter’s name, it’s just another KO. The T is gone, discarded like a bloodied, sweat-soaked bow-tie after a long night of work that ended in a tough call from the ring’s lonely third man. But the stories endure, mostly because the responsibility never goes away. Making the right stoppage is the biggest part of a referee’s job. The toughest part, too.
Too late, and a life is in peril.
Too early, and a promising career ends.
“There’s a real fine art to when to stop it,” said California referee Jack Reiss, who has worked about 2,000 bouts, including more than 40 world-title fights.
From death to dementia, the late stoppage, or no stoppage at all, leads to the kind of human tragedy that has long haunted boxing. The premature stoppage leads to a fighter or his corner complaining to fans and media that he was robbed. That’s not good for the game or the frustrated fighter, either. …
Enjoy this preview of “Stop signs”? The full version can be read in the September 2014 issue of THE RING Magazine, on newsstands now.
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