By Margaret Goodman, MD: When it comes to boxing, everyone is entitled to an opinion. People love to debate every aspect of a fight. Over and over again, a future outcome will hinge on whether or not a fighter is given one more round. Often the referee will make the final decision with or without advice from the ring physician. On other occasions the corner stops the fight. A fight is a drama playing out before your eyes. If at all possible, the performance of the two athletes should dictate the outcome. However, a cut, too many head blows, repeated knockdowns, and a fighter's history each play a part. Fights are more interesting to the fans and safer for the fighters if we take time to explore the wealth of information available from those who play a role in the fights we see. What do experts consider in rendering an opinion as to whether or not a fighter should receive one more round?
Presented in alphabetical order:
"If the trainer is truly a professional, he should make the decision. He has seen his fighter in the gym. He knows how his boxer reacts and recovers. That experience will tell the trainer what to do. You have to take into account if the other fighter is a good finisher, a good puncher, and someone who won't let your fighter recover. I use my recollection of what the opponent has done on prior occasions, and how good are your fighter's instructions. Use your familiarity from the gym; not where the fans think he is, but where you know he is and then see how those things play out." - Teddy Atlas, trainer and ESPN Friday Night Fights Analyst.
"When a round is over and the doctor and referee has time to check a fighter out during the rest period, the doctor will check the fighter first. As a referee, I will look into the fighter's eyes and ask him if he is okay and would he like to continue. If he appears to be alright, I will do one more thing. When the 10-second bell sounds, I will watch him close when he gets up off the stool to see how he looks physically. Now if the fighter is cut over the eye, I would have the ringside doctor there to confirm my decision, and give me final input as to whether the fighter should continue or not." - Kenny Bayless, Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) referee.
"As a trainer you have to know your fighter. If it is a cut, it depends on how badly he is bleeding. If the fighter is in danger, the fight has to stop. If he is taking too much punishment, and can't possibly win, why allow the fight to continue. I know what my fighter can take. It is something you feel." - Roger Bloodworth, trainer.
"The first thing I do is an evaluation of the fight in its entirety. If the fighter is losing every round, taking a lot of punishment, I call in the ring physician. I am preparing the corner, the audience so everyone knows I am concerned about the safety and welfare of the fighter. I tell the fighter with the doctor, 'If you continue to take punishment I have no choice but to stop the fight.' If he wants a chance and is able, I am going to allow the fight to continue. Prior to that night I have done mental preparation as to who I am refereeing. If the fighter is outclassed, why let it continue? I tell the cornermen, 'You know your fighter better than I. I respect you to call it and have the fighter come back another day.'" - Joe Cortez, NSAC referee.
"The thing that bothers me the most about fighters taking too much punishment is that their corners often either have no clue about what is going on or simply don't care. The main concern a corner should have about their fighter is his health, not what they can make from his next fight. Often this isn't the case, and many times a journeyman fighter has people in his corner who may have never seen him fight before and don't know how to react." - Tim Dahlberg, Associated Press boxing writer and national columnist.
"I would rather see one less round, than one more round. I believe that if a referee or doctor is going to error, it should always be on the side of caution. I've seen too many fighters behind on the cards that go on to win for me to stop a fight just because a fighter is behind. I'd be more apt to stop a fight based on a fighter taking too many dangerous head shots, regardless of who is ahead. The final decision to stop a fight should be made based on experience. Often times a referee can have 20-30 years experience and it might be the doctor's first fight." - Barry Druxman, judge, former referee Washington State, Founder/President International Ring Officials Association (IPRO).
"In theory, a referee granting an injured or damaged fighter "one more round" is generous and dramatic, if not justifiable, especially when the stakes are high. But in reality, if a fighter is hurt badly enough that a referee is contemplating a stoppage, the time to call a halt is now. Perhaps I can understand an exception when the injury in question is a cut. But if a fighter is taking a sustained beating, the likelihood that he's going to instantly become competitive isn't very great. In that instance, an immediate stoppage is the only way to go." - Steve Farhood, Showtime Boxing Analyst.
"Depends on the skill and where the fighter is at in his career. At the end of the day, the sole responsibility is in the hands of the referee. The referee needs to make the call with the doctor." - Lorenzo Fertitta, former NSAC commissioner, President of Station Casinos Inc, and co-owner of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships).
"Safety is paramount. As a trainer, I look at the attitude of the fighter; is he panicking. As a cutman, I will say to the head trainer, 'I think this should stop.' The trainer should make the call." - Al Gavin, trainer and cutman.
"From a TV Producer's perspective, we always want to be observers. Even our announcers should be reporting on the action, not involved in it. So far as when a fight should be stopped, as we sit in a TV truck, we're thinking it's up to the ref, the doctor, cornermen, or fighters. The participants should make the decisions, and the television people should observe and report on those decisions." - Dave Harmon, HBO Vice-President of Production, and Senior Producer of Boxing.
"The doctor should make that determination. The fighter will never say "no". My trainer and I won't give up. We came to win. The fighter will not feel injury and if there has been a lot of damage, the doctor needs to step in." - Vivian Harris, WBA Jr. Welterweight Champion.
"A fighter should be given another round when he is still competitive and his condition is such that letting the fight go another round doesn't pose an undue risk of serious injury." - Thomas Hauser, author.
"The Ring Physician should never "give one more round". A fight should continue to its natural conclusion - as long as the health and safety of the combatants is not called into question. If a fighter is no longer protecting himself, or he is taking too many head blows, or he has an injury that threatens to worsen or become permanent, then one more round is unrealistic and dangerous." - Dr. Flip Homansky, current NSAC commissioner, former ringside physician and NSAC Medical Advisory Board Chairman.
"When a fighter is seriously cut but can see well and breathe well in a close fight, let it go one more round (but watch carefully). Going into the last round of a real Championship fight that is close, let the fight go one more round unless one or both of the fighters cannot defend himself or is in clear danger from cuts or is not responsive to commands -(watch carefully and test)." - George Horowitz, President and CEO, Everlast, Inc.
"In my opinion, if a fighter has taken enough blows that he is at risk if he takes any more, he should not be given another round no matter the stakes in the fight. The concept of one more round tends to place great emphasis on the importance of the bout, but not on the importance of safety. If a fighter has cuts that aren't likely to cause serious problems (i.e. below the eyes) and are more or less cosmetic, then I think it's fair to give the fighter an additional round to try to continue." - Kevin Iole, Journalist, Las Vegas Review Journal.
"I think a fighter can decide. With my punching power I always have a chance. But if I was really getting beat and I was hitting him with everything, I would discuss it with my corner or my trainer would know." - Jeff Lacy, up and coming super-middleweight.
"I am of the opinion that the doctor is the expert when it comes to the health and safety of the boxer, and his or her opinion should always be the final one and should be obeyed. We must avoid serious injuries and fatalities at all times, so the ringside physician must make the call and the referee must do what he or she says. Having said that, I believe that if the ringside physician believes that the injury could become serious if the fighter is allowed to come out for one more round, then the physician should not take a chance no matter what, and stop the fight without regard to any title or the pleading of the fighter or his corner. It is strictly a medical decision." - Harold Lederman, HBO Boxing Analyst and judge.
"A fighter should be given just one more round when it looks like he has been taking a beating, not just losing the last three to five rounds. The trainer should make the decision, not the fighter, because as a fighter we will fight to the death. Sometimes, the doctor needs to step in and override both the fighter and the trainer." - Jameel McCline, heavyweight fighter.
"When an injury, the doctor should make the decision. If needed, they should consult with the referee, but the doctor should have the final say. There has to be clear communication between the doctor, the fighter, and the media. The fans make the time to watch, they need to be clearly informed. Otherwise there can be brewing disappointment. This curiosity has to be put to rest. Aside from injury, the referee has to make the decision to go with the fight. When one fighter is clearly outclassing the second or brave beyond the call of duty and he is getting hurt, this is a good time to stop a fight. There is a third category whereby the fighter is abiding by the 'rules of engagement,' and he can't win, the head of a commission should suggest to the referee the fight stop. In all these categories, the corner should stop it." - Larry Merchant, HBO Boxing Analyst.
"The person or people, who should stop a fight, should always be the cornermen first. They know their fighter better than anyone else, and can see if the fighter is taking too much punishment. Having family in the corner can work well, but sometimes the family is too brave for their own kin and they have let their loved one fight longer than the fighter should." - Marc Ratner, Executive Director, NSAC.
"I believe the ringside physician can never stop a fight too early, only too late! When deciding on whether or not to give the fighter the extra round, I take three things into consideration. First, do I believe that the fighter truly wants another round. I feel that if he/she doesn't really want to go on, then this increases the risk that they will incur a serious injury if the fight continues. Secondly, the fighter's history should be taken into consideration. Lastly, I do take the magnitude of the fight into consideration. If it is a championship fight or a fight, which holds more significance to both fighters, I will try to give each fighter every opportunity to show me they can are willing to continue. Nevertheless, none of these situations matter if I sincerely believe someone's health and well-being are at risk. My goal is to make sure they have a healthy life after their boxing career is done." - Dr. Michael Schwartz, Connecticut chief ringside physician, and president AAPRP (American Association of Professional Ringside Physicians).
"As far as I am concerned, absolutely the referee should be the one to make the call. You can't ask the fighter or the corner, they have too much invested. Although the corner has the best interest of the fighter in their minds, there is too much on the line. Richard Steele is the perfect example. With only a few seconds remaining at the end of the first Taylor-Chavez fight, he was closest to the action to make the necessary call." - Bruce Silverglade, owner of Gleason's Gym, NYC.
"As a cutman, it is common sense. I tell the corner, 'He's had it.' I have consulted with the doctor a number of times." - Joe Souza, cutman.
Part II: One More Round - Every Fighter's Wish
In Depth Analysis and Discussion.
Dr. Margaret Goodman is a Ringside Physician and Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Dr. Margaret Goodman practices in Las Vegas, Nevada, where she is a licensed ringside physician since 1994. Her medical specialty is in the field of Neurology. Dr. Goodman was appointed by Nevada's Governor, Kenny C. Guinn, in September of 2001, to serve as Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Although she is Chairman of the Commission's Medical Advisory Board, all of the views, opinions, and/or recommendations contained herein are solely her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Nevada's Commission. All readers are strongly cautioned that the information contained herein is not intended to, and never should, substitute for the necessity of seeking the advice of a qualified medical professional whenever a boxer or his/her representatives have specific questions regarding the best course of action that a boxer should take. Furthermore, since it is possible that general information herein may pertain only to a law, regulation, rule or acceptable standard of practice for a particular jurisdiction, a boxer or his/her representatives must always inquire with the appropriate licensing jurisdiction to determine the applicable laws, regulations, rules, and acceptable standards of practice for each jurisdiction.
All readers are advised that the information herein is intended solely as a general reference source, and to the fullest extent permitted by law, the information is provided "AS IS" without any warranties of any kind, whether express or implied, including without limitation, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and non-infringement. No one may rely on the accuracy, integrity, quality or completeness of the general information herein. Accordingly, neither the authors, editors nor anyone else affiliated with this website may be held liable for damages of any kind whatsoever allegedly caused or resulting from any such claimed reliance.