Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez will be joined in the ring by Tony Weeks on Saturday. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Sean Mills takes a look at the Pacquiao vs Marquez fight from a different angle: Will referee Tony Weeks impact the bout in a significant fashion?
You may have already read about a certain Mexican warrior that rose from three knockdowns to give a Filipino all he could handle in their first fight.
You may have already heard that despite gaining knowledge in their first fight, the second fight was even closer.
What you may not have heard in the articles covering Manny Pacquiao's and Juan Manuel Marquez's upcoming rematch is that Tony Weeks will be the man to watch. With Marquez demonstrating a likely chance of visiting the canvas, the question is how many times will referee Tony Weeks let him get up?
To underline how dramatic this question actually is, consider this alternate timeline: What if Cortez stopped their first fight after the third knockdown. Would this upcoming bout even be happening?
First let's rule out the trainers. Nacho Beristain has seen Marquez survive Pacquiao twice before. More recently, Beristain let Alfredo Angulo get knocked out rather than throw in the towel for him. He watched his fighter fight less and less and get hit more and more, but let him keep "boxing." Meanwhile, Freddie Roach hasn't seen his star Manny Pacquiao in serious danger in years. Chances are neither trainer will be the one stopping this fight.
Tony Weeks is the one who will decide a technical knockout if anyone does, on Saturday night. The fact that he is a referee with a great record doesn't mean something won't go wrong. Laurence Cole and Kenny Bayless have both called knockdowns against Pacquiao that later proved to be slips or pushes conclusively during video replay. I consider all three of these referees more than competent.
Weeks will certainly do his best, but its not a question of competency, it's a question of whether he will decide the outcome of the fight.
There have been 16 TKOs or no-contests in the last 50 fights Tony Weeks has judged, with five of those in the MGM Grand, where this fight will be held. In a third of his last fifty fights, Weeks got to decide the fight he was officiating rather than the judges. This does not suggest he has ever acted prematurely, but it does suggest there is a fair chance he might decide which round the fight ends.
A technical knockout (also referred to as a TKO) is declared when the referee decides that a fighter cannot safely continue the match. Since discretion can play such a large part in a fight, it is worth reviewing the past decisions of a referee. Among his recently officiated fights I tried to look for patterns in how he made rulings for Technical Knockout and I discovered some things to watch for in the upcoming bout.
Weeks usually does a great job of communicating with fighters in the ring. You can audibly hear him warn of low blows during fight with a, "Keep 'em up, baby."
After a knock down he firmly explains to a compromised fighter, "I'm going to give you a chance." And, since he speaks Spanish you can imagine both Pacquiao and Marquez will have an equal chance at convincing Weeks they can continue fighting if questioned.
In the TKO of Dion Savage from his opponent Adonis Stevenson, Savage looked clear headed, but since he wasn't throwing any punches, Weeks stopped the fight.
In July, it only took five or six seconds of lying on the ropes for Weeks to declare Danny Santiago unable to continue against Beibut Shumenov.
Earlier, in a fight between Yunier Dorticos andJ ose Luis Herrera, Weeks ruled a second round TKO in favor of Dorticos even though Herrera was still standing in the middle of the ring. Following a scored knockdown, Dorticos threw four punches and shoved Herrera. The shove revealed Herrera's shaky legs, and Weeks stopped the fight.
Perhaps the most useful information can be gathered from Tony Week's signature fight: Diego Corrales versus Jose Luis Castillo. This fight was a classic and slightly unusual in the sense that in the 10th round Castillo knocked down Corrales twice, but ultimately Castillo was the one TKO'ed.
By the 10th round, both fighters had expended a lot of energy, making safety a special concern. Despite the two knockdowns, Weeks deemed Corrales fit to fight, though he did deduct a point from Corrales for spitting out his mouthpiece.
On the stoppage itself, Weeks had this to say:
"You can see my eyes going from Corrales to Castillio. It happened so fast; he jumped on him with a barrage of punches...His head went limp. I couldn't believe it, I didn't think, I just reacted. A referee isn't concerned about who is winning or losing, just enforcing the rules..."
According to Weeks, it's all in the eyes. He looks in a fighter's eyes to decide if he can continue to fight. In the upcoming bout, if you notice either Pacquiao or Marquez looking anywhere but at his opponent after a knockdown, you can assume Weeks will stop the contest.