By Clive Bernath: Although initially surprised when I read that British referee Ian John Lewis was to take charge of the WBC heavyweight title clash between Vitali Klitschko
and Juan Carlos Gomez next month I was also very pleased.
The mild mannered 46 year-old from Gillingham in Kent has refereed countless British, European and world title fights over the years but when I heard he was to be the third man in the ring for the heavyweight championship of the world. memories of Ian as fighter quickly came flooding back.
Many die hard British boxing fans will know Ian was a pretty handy welterweight in the late 1980’s, a very brave one and much better than his 14-6-(9), record suggested. I’ll come back to my memories of Ian in his fighting days later.
In all industries the world over there are some people better at their chosen profession than others and officiating in the sport of boxing is no different. John Lewis is fast establishing himself a reputation as one of the best, even though he has only been a Class A Star referee for a short while in comparison to some.
I have followed Ian’s career very closely from the day he refereed his first professional contest as a non scoring referee in 1993. Even in the early days it was clear that John Lewis was a natural as the third man. I remember sitting at ringside, making notes as a fledgling reporter that he instinctively intervened at precisely the right time when a boxer was hurt and unable to continue. He also allowed fights to flow and only stepped in when it was absolutely necessary to do so.
As the years went on John Lewis perfected his trade to the high standard he commands today. He is not the type of referee that enjoys or uses the sound of his own voice purely for the sake of it. Though he is softly spoken he puts his point across perfectly and firmly, as indeed a good referee should.
There are other reasons, though, why I believe John Lewis is a natural third man in the ring? Being a former fighter he understands them, he sees, feels and takes every punch with them.