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The BWAA's Officials Watch List

The Boxing Writers Association of America has an obligation to boxing, so we would like to announce “THE BWAA OFFICIALS WATCH LIST,” a quarterly list that the BWAA will post in March, June, September and December here on the BWAA website. Much thought went into this decision, including the valued opinions from a combined group of over 30 BWAA members, general media, broadcast media, state commission and officials associated with professional boxing—who were in favor of this move.

The BWAA OFFICIALS WATCH LIST will begin each time with the preamble seen below explaining our protocol, followed by the formatted list, naming the judge, judges or referee, the fight outcome, date and place, complete with a brief explanation as to why a judge or referee is being placed on the list.


Boxing is a sport where ring judges and referees are rarely held accountable for poor performances that unfairly change the course of a fighter's career and, in some instances, endanger lives.

The Boxing Writers Association of America is instituting a quarterly watch list in March, June, September and December with the intention of calling attention to what we believe are egregious errors in scoring by judges and conduct by referees that falls short of acceptable standards for refereeing.

This list is not all-inclusive. It reflects instances of particularly poor performance that have been brought to our attention. We encourage all BWAA members and others to email their concerns regarding officiating to BWAA president Joseph Santoliquito at

Complaints should not be based on hearsay. In order to file a complaint, a person should actually have been in attendance or seen a video of the fight in question. All referrals will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis involving a rotating committee of select BWAA members and respected boxing experts.



Ron Lipton, New York, New York

Andre Berto W12 Devon Alexander, welterweight, Uniondale, New York, August 4, 2018: Lipton failed to control the fighters throughout an ugly foul-filled contest. Most significantly, early in round three, Alexander hit Berto with two flagrantly-illegal punches to the back of the head. The second of these punches landed directly in front of Lipton and dropped Berto to the canvas. It was a clear foul and should have resulted in a one-point deduction. Instead, Lipton called it a knockdown. The missed called carried with it the potential for a huge swing in the judges' scoring. More significantly, anyone who doesn't understand the danger inherent in rabbit punches of this nature should view film footage of Prichard Colon vs. Terrell Williams.

Then, before the start of round seven, Lipton called time to check on the status of Berto's protective cup. Obviously the referee was aware that there was a problem. One minute into round eight, Berto's protective cup fell out of his trunks and into the canvas. There was a lull in the action. Lipton should have called time. Instead he kicked the cup out of the ring and ordered that the action resume. Berto fought for the remainder of the round without a protective cup. A new cup was substituted during the one-minute break before the start of round nine. Fighters wear protective cups for a reason. Here again, Lipton exercised poor judgment and endangered the health and safety of a fighter.


Laurence Cole, Dallas, Texas

Regis Prograis KO 8 Juan Jose Velasco, super lightweight, New Orleans, Louisiana, July 14, 2018: After round seven, Velasco told his trainer, Herman Caicedo, that he no longer wanted to continue. As translated from Spanish by ESPN’s Bernard Osuna, Caicedo told his charge, “What do you mean, you don't want to go anymore? What’s wrong with you? Come on. You can’t give up on me now.” Caicedo then sent his fighter out for round eight.

Forty-five seconds into round eight, Velasco was knocked down for the third time in the fight and spat out his mouthpiece. He then stood up, shook his head, and walked away with his back to Prograis, indicating to referee Laurence Cole that he no longer wanted to fight. But instead of stopping the bout, Cole instructed Caicedo to rinse the mouthpiece and ordered that the fight continue. Less than ten seconds later, Velasco sank to the canvas after a glancing blow to the temple. Cole ruled it a slip, wiped Velasco’s gloves, and instructed that the beating resume. Finally, after another 35 seconds of unnecessary punishment, Caicedo threw in the towel and the fight ended.


Mike Contrera, Omaha, Nebraska

Jeff Sinnett, Omaha, Nebraska

Thomas Mattice W 8 Zhora Hamazaryan, lightweight, Sloan, Iowa, July 20, 2018: Hamazaryan dominated the bout, yet judges Mike Contrera and Jeff Sinnett each scored the fight 76-75 in favor of Mattice, giving him a split-decision “W.”

The fight was televised on ShowBox. ShowBox commentator Steve Farhood called the decision one of the worst in the history of the series, while his fellow Hall of Fame broadcaster Barry Tompkins called it the worst decision he has seen in forty years of covering boxing.

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