Arthur Mercante Jr. discusses the Miguel Cotto / Yuri Foreman fight with Doghouse Boxing
Interview by David Tyler, DoghouseBoxing (June 10, 2010)  
David Tyler - Arthur, late in the third round of the fight, Yuri Foreman's mouthpiece fell onto the canvas. You waited for a break in the action and sent Cotto to a neutral corner and took Foreman over to Cotto's corner and had them clean the mouthpiece. Is that a rule or something you do personally?

Arthur Mercante Jr - That's something I came up with a while back, I was working a fight at the Mohegan Casino and the same situation happened and I went to the opposite opponent's corner and had them clean the mouthpiece. After the fight the boxing commissioner ask me why I went to the opposite corner to get the mouthpiece cleaned. I explained to him just like I explained to you that this will prevent any coaching from the fighter's corner while they are taking their time cleaning the mouthpiece. The commissioner thought that it was a great idea but it is not something that's in the rule book.

DT - I think it's a brilliant idea and hope to see boxing adopt the rule across the various state commissions. Let's go to the seventh round of the fight. Foreman slipped twice in that round because his knee gave away?

AM -
The first time it looked like the knee buckled on him and he hobbled around and I ask him several times if he was alright as you heard on the HBO broadcast. The next time he slipped was in Cotto's corner because there was water in the corner. Again he got back up and assured me that he was fine and willing to fight. He finished the round and landed some good punches. The ring Doctor examined him between rounds.

DT - Arthur, in the eighth round a white towel was thrown into the ring while the fighters were exchanging punches. Did you know where the towel came from?

AM -
No David, at that time I did not know who threw the towel in the ring.

DT - What is the rule if a towel is thrown into the ring?

AM -
You cannot stop a fight by throwing a towel in the ring. Only three people can stop a fight: The Doctor, Referee, and the Commissioner. If a corner man feels like his fighter is unable to continue he tells the referee. Foreman's corner had that opportunity between rounds eight and nine. I went over to Foreman's corner and was not asked to stop the fight. I heard Yuri tell his corner that he was fine and good to go. When I heard that I went back to my corner and waited for the ninth round to begin.

DT - Arthur, you mentioned that the Commissioner, Melvina Lathan had the power to stop the fight. At any time did she ask you to stop the bout?

AM -
No, I have to praise her. When I threw the towel out I called time and told everyone to clear the ring this fight is not over, I then went to Melvina Lathan and told her I am not accepting the towel. She said Arthur you are the boss in the ring, it's your call and I have no problem with your decision.

DT - Arthur, did the ringside Doctor advise you to stop the fight?

AM -
No, he did not say anything at that time. Earlier I had asked the Doc to look at the cuts on Foreman's face and the Doc said he was okay.

DT - Did anyone ask you to stop the fight between the eighth and ninth rounds?

AM -
No sir.

DT - When the ninth round started Foreman was fighting well but caught a left hook to the body from Cotto which sent him to the canvass. You stopped the fight at that point. Did Foreman say anything to you?

AM -
He didn't say anything at all. I told him that he fought like a champion. I should say that earlier when the towel came in the ring, he threw his hands up in disgust because he didn't want to quit. Some guys would have quit but Yuri was a trooper and wanted to continue fighting. I looked at him and said you don't want to lose by disqualification and he was in agreement. He did not want to see the towel come into the ring.

DT - After the towel was thrown into the ring, Foreman's trainer entered the ring and the viewing audience was informed by Jim Lampley that it was an automatic disqualification. Is that true?

AM -
It could be, Yes.

DT - Why did you not enforce the disqualification?

AM -
I have said before that I am the type of referee that does not like to take away points or disqualify a fighter unless it's really necessary. I did not know where the towel came from, it could have been thrown in by a fan who had money on the fight.

DT - I would assume that's the reason that a towel being thrown into a ring does not necessarily stop the fight. To protect the integrity of the fight.

AM -
I am more in favor of the two corners having different colored towels and the corner could hold up the towel or place it where the referee could easily see it.

DT - Arthur, after the fight did you have an opportunity to speak with Yuri Foreman?

AM -
Yes I did, and also Miguel Cotto. I like to check both fighters after the fight and see how they are doing. I have a lot of passion for the fighters and I so this passion after the fight. I went to Yuri's room first and told him it was my pleasure working with him and he fought hard like a true champion. He told me that it was nice having me in the ring with him. I went to Miguel Cotto's room next. I told him it was great working with him and he said 'Ref, I have a 3 - 0 record with you. Can you do all my fights?'.

DT - Arthur, HBO focused heavily on Foreman's wife who was upset that her husband had slipped a couple of times. The local press ran with the story and has made a big issue out of her behavior. Did she confront you in the locker room after the fight?

AM -
Yes she did and I said to her that your husband is a fighter, he is a tough kid, you should respect that fact and he wanted to fight. He was not hurt and was physically able to continue fighting. He was exchanging punches the entire fight. Yuri chimed in and said 'hey honey, he was doing his job.'

DT - Arthur, although the fight was not of epic proportions, it was a good fight. You did an excellent job as usual and on behalf of doghouse boxing we thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to discuss this fight with us.

AM -
My pleasure David, anytime.

David Tyler

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