By Alex P. Vidal
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — AS member of the world boxing community, I condemn in the strongest possible terms the bestiality shown by Argentinian boxing fans who mobbed in an ugly riot newly crowned Filipino boxing champion Jonriel Casimero and his team led by my friend promoter Sammy Gello-ani in Buenos Aires, Argentina last Feb. 11. I also condemn the unprofessional behavior of Casimero’s KO victim Luis Lazarte who threatened to kill my colleague, referee Eddie Claudio. THEY MUST BE BANNED FROM THE SPORT FOR LIFE!
SIXTEEN years ago in Chonburi, Thailand on February 17, 1996, I was among the last boxing referees in the world to administer the “mandatory standing 8 count” in a 12-round world professional boxing championship.
In probably the last “mandatory standing 8 count” applied in a world title fight by the World Boxing Federation (now Foundation) or any world governing bodies for that matter, I was third man on the ring in the 12-round WBF super-flyweight championship bout between Samson Dutchboygym (also known as Samson Elite Gym and Samson 3-K Battery) of Thailand versus Genaro “Poblanito” Garcia of Mexico.
Samson (43-0, 36 KOs), Thailand’s most charismatic world champion until his retirement on April 19, 2002 at age 30, decked the visitor from Puebla, Mexico with a barrage of head and body blows in the 7th canto.
Sensing Garcia was no longer fit to protect his own life, I automatically pulled the plug and declared Samson winner by technical knockout (TKO) in that round.
Three rounds earlier, I gave Genaro a mandatory standing eight count after Samson trapped him in the ropes and threatened to blow away the space between Genaro’s ears with a series of damaging uppercuts and hooks.
Genaro survived Samson’s homicidal onslaught but finished the 4th round on wobbly legs.
When I collected the scorecards of the three judges—the late Don Marks (Australia), Jaffar (Indonesia), a Thai judge–and submitted it to fight supervisor, then WBF Asia Pacific Rim representative and vice president Jack Rennie, who sat beside then WBF president Ron L. Scalf (Tennessee, USA), he gave a thumbs up sign indicating his approval of the mandatory standing 8 count.
In the sixth round, Samson, fighting like a full gasoline tank, again pulverized the 19-year-old Genaro with ear-piercing shots in the jaw and midsection.
SIGNS OF LIFE
I thought of stopping the carnage but Genaro showed some signs of life as he quickly used dizzying lateral movements to avoid Samson’s laser-laced fists while punching his way out of harm’s way.
Genaro was good for another round.
After I terminated the fight in the 7th round, Supervisor Rennie approached me while on my way to the dressing room and handed over a US$100 bill. “You deserve a bonus for a job well done. Those two mandatory standing eight counts showed that you were decisive,” said Rennie who immediately informed President Scalf of the ante.
The WBF rules then allowed us referees to impose a “mandatory standing 8 count” for a fighter still on his feet despite absorbing an avalanche of heavy blows in any round.
A mandatory standing eight count is a rule used in amateur boxing.
When leading world boxing organizations led by the World Boxing Council terminated the rule, referees started to implement the mandatory 8 count only on a boxer who hits the canvas after being zapped by a legal blow. We couldn’t anymore halt the bout temporarily and initiate the mandatory 8 count if based on our judgment the boxer receiving the severe punishment was on the verge of falling or in danger of absorbing lethal blows but was too cocky to stay on his feet.
In imposing the WBF rule, the referee had the sole discretion whether or not to halt the action and declare the besieged boxer a loser by TKO if he felt he had suffered punishment too many or to allow him to continue but give him time to recuperate by administering the mandatory standing 8 count if he felt he was still on in the fistic game.
This rule once had sparked some controversy especially when other world boxing bodies such as the World Boxing Council (WBC), World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF), and World Boxing Organization (WBO) did not observe it.
Under the unified rules, a boxer can be given only a mandatory eight count if, after being hit with legal blows, any part of his body down to his legs touches the canvas.
And if he fails to beat the mandatory count after being dropped by a legitimate punch or punches, he loses the bout by knockout.