With no major fights this weekend, it's been a slow news week, so this is more of a discussion piece than anything. Stemming from the conversation in the last Mandatory Eight Count thread, who do you think is the worst referee out there? Here are a few nominees - this is far from being a comprehensive list, so feel free to add your own nominees in the comments. Also, feel free to discuss any older referees who might put some of these guys to shame.
Laurence Cole - If it's the referee's job to be inobtrusive, then Cole does his job the least of anyone out there. The premier referee in Texas, he makes himself known in the fight and isn't hesitant to insert himself into the action. One of the most blatant examples was the first fight between Chris John and Rocky Juarez, where whenever the two started to fight inside, he would literally grab one of their arms to try and make them fight a little further apart. In addition, while he's been improving in this regard, he often visibly has bad angles, which lead to his not being able to see the action as well as a referee should.
Joe Cortez - Probably the biggest "celebrity" of the referees here, he's known not only for his "fair but firm" catchphrase, but also for his somewhat controversial handling of a number of fights. The biggest hubbub probably came from his handling of the fight between Humberto Soto and Francisco Lorenzo. With Soto beating Lorenzo from pillar to post and looking like a bloody mess, Lorenzo got knocked down and a Soto punch grazed his head. Cortez fell for a masterful acting job by Lorenzo, and disqualified Soto.
Arthur Mercante Jr. - Son of the legendary referee Arthur Mercante Sr., Mercante Jr. takes some flack because of his inability to hold a candle to his father, as well as for his handling of the actual bouts. The impetus of this post, his handling of Cotto-Foreman has been debated, taking the rare move of restarting a fight after the towel had been thrown in. He was also the referee in Khalid Jones vs. Beethaeven Scottland, a mismatch that never should have been sanctioned to begin with that resulted in the latter fighter's death.
Jay Nady - Nady's placement here may be a bit more controversial than the others on this list. He's more of a polarizing figure than anything - well-liked by some fans, and thought to be the worst referee out there by some others, mostly as a result of his style and decisionmaking process. The most prominent fight where he took criticism probably came in the bout between Tito Trinidad and Fernando Vargas, where few will argue that he let the fight go on for too long. Since then, he's been criticized for giving the hook too quickly in more recent fights. His handling of other bouts, such as Rahman-Maskaev and Taylor-Hopkins, has also been somewhat debated.
Randy Neumann - Neumann has been on the wrong side of a number of controversial officiating jobs. The most prominent probably came several years ago in the first fight between Arthur Abraham and Edison Miranda, a fight that many thought Miranda only lost because of the officiating. In addition to docking five points from Miranda (some but not all of which were warranted), when Abraham broke his jaw, he not only gave Abraham time to recover, but he actually let the medical team work on him while he was recovering. He's also notorious for his inconsistency in calling fouls or letting fights go - some other fights he officiated include Wladimir Klitschko against Samuel Peter, Arturo Gatti versus Leonard Dorin and Sven Ottke against Glen Johnson.
Terry O'Connor - In an era where referees seem to be giving quicker and quicker hooks, O'Connor's hook is one of the quickest. Maybe the most notable instance of this came in his stoppage of the bout between Joe Calzaghe and Peter Manfredo Jr. However, he's also had a number of other controversies, including recently naming Tyson Fury a wide winner over Big John McDermott.
Roger Tilleman - Some referees may be accused of showing favoritism, which may be a far worse crime in refereeing than pure incompetence. Tilleman's most prominent gaffe came in the fight Sven Ottke and Robin Reid, where Tilleman docked Reid a point for having the temerity to actually punch Ottke in the face. Fortunately, while Tilleman continues to judge fights, he hasn't stepped into the ring as a referee since 2006, and he was not allowed to referee any more major fights after the Ottke-Reid debacle.
Marlon B. Wright - The most prominent of the Montreal referees, Wright is unfortunately best known for his botched handling of the end of the first fight between Lucian Bute and Librado Andrade. He has also refereed fights without incident such as both fights between Jean Pascal and Adrian Diaconu, Juan Urango vs. Herman Ngoudjo and Lucian Bute against Alejandro Berrio.
Special honorable mention goes to Alfredo Garcia Perez, who performed the single worst officiating job I've ever seen with his absurd handling of Danny Williams vs. Konstantin Airich. Fortunately, that appears to be the only major fight he's refereed and he's more typically a judge, so he probably doesn't warrant placement in the poll.
A few other referees with somewhat spotty records: Raul Caiz Jr., Frank Cappuccino, Stanley Christodoulou (a hall of fame referee who has slid as he has aged), Frank Santore Jr., Jorge Alonso, Mickey Vann, Dave Parris, Richard Steele (yet another polarizing figure with both supporters and detractors) and Les Fear.