By Tim Nielson: Paulie Malignaggi, a commentator for Showtime and Sky Sports, has always been quite vocal about his opinions on boxing and with certain fighters. Last Saturday night, Malignaggi witnessed the bizarre stoppage of the Tim Bradley (32-1-1, 12 KOs) vs. Jessie Vargas (26-1, 9 KOs) fight by aging referee Pat Russell at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
With the sound at ringside being near deafening after Vargas hurt Bradley with a nice right hand in the final 30 seconds of the 12th round, the 67-year-old Russell, believing that he had heard the final bell, stepped in and stopped the fight with 10 seconds left.
Malignaggi then responded on his Twitter account, saying that referees should be forced to retire at a certain age. In other words, Malignaggi was implying that Russell’s mistake was related to age rather than him simply making a mistake that anyone could have made given the loud noise at the StubHub at the time of the stoppage in the 12th round.
This is exactly why referees should be forced to retire at a certain age. You can't be 100 yrs old n judging or reffing world class fights.
— Paul Malignaggi (@PaulMalignaggi) June 28, 2015
What Russell heard was the 10-second warning, not the final bell to end the fight. He reacted to the warning as if it were the bell, so he abruptly halted the fight. Whether that’s something that was age related or a simple mistake is impossible to determine. What we do know is Russell hasn’t been stopping fights prematurely in the past out of confusion when hearing the 10 second warning, so it’s safe to assume that it was a simple mistake on Russell’s part.
As for Malignaggi’s desire to have judges retire at a certain age, I think that’s something that would be impossible to enforce. How can you say that a person has to be forced into retirement at a certain age? That would be considered age discrimination and it’s unlawful. Airline pilots have a mandatory retirement age of 65. It used to be 60, but was increased to 65 in 2009, but that’s a different situation.
The referee isn’t flying people around the world. He’s working a fight, and making sure the fighters follow the rules.
“It was very loud in the 12th round, and I thought I heard the bell,” Russell said to HBO analyst Max Kellerman last Saturday night after the fight. “So the fight was over when the final bell went off…It sounded like the bell to me. But you don’t always hear the 10 second warning. You’d like to but what I thought I heard was the bell. I made the call that I made based on what I heard. That’s all I could say. It was an honest call on an honest issue,” Russell said.
It’s not surprising that Vargas came away feeling like he’d been robbed of a chance of getting a victory due to Russell’s error, but it was clearly a mistake on Russell’s part and not some kind of sinister plot. Vargas immediately demanded a rematch in order to be given a chance to prove that he’s the better fighter of the two. With the controversial stoppage, Vargas has ammunition to try and force a rematch if he can get the International boxing Federation to approve what will likely be an appeal from him, and then order the rematch. It’s going to take for the IBF to order the rematch for it to happen because Bradley has already refused to give Vargas a rematch. Bradley says “What for?” He feels that he dominated Vargas for the first 11 rounds, and only had that one slip up in the 12th. Bradley wants to move forward towards bigger fights rather than be trapped fighting Vargas for a second time due to Russell’s error.