Arthur Mercante Jr Interview - On Manny Pacquiao's win over Miguel Cotto, Pacquiao vs Floyd Mayweather Jr, plus Mike Tyson, Margarito and More! By David Tyler, DoghouseBoxing (Nov 17, 2009) Doghouse Boxing
Let’s welcome future Hall of Fame Referee, Arthur Mercante Jr. back into the doghouse as he gives his views on the recent Miguel Cotto/ Manny Pacquiao bout and the potential Pacquiao/ Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight in 2010.
David Tyler Hi Arthur, hope all is well with you and your family. Did you catch the Cotto/ Pacquiao fight?
Arthur Mercante Jr. Everybody is fine. I missed a big part of the fight because I was working at Madison Square Garden for the Metallica concert. The event was over about 11:30 pm and a friend invited me to watch the fight with him at a place called Jack Dempsey’s. We got there about the fourth round. So all I saw was from the fourth round until the end.
DT Did you get the feeling that Cotto was not himself in that fight?
AMJ I agree with you David. I said to my buddy that Cotto’s corner looked very amateurish. I don’t know if you recall the fight with Tyson and I believe it was Buster Douglass after he had left Jacobs, Rooney, and the rest of his team. He went into the fight without enswell or even an ice pack in his corner. All they were doing was taking gauze and applying pressure to his eyes, nothing to stop the swelling or get the puffiness out. It really looked like an amateur show.
DT Could you see the ghost of Antonio Margarito in that fight?
AMJ Of course, that fight and the one I did with Cotto and Clottey had an effect on Cotto, you could just see it in his style and in his eyes. Every punch thrown by Pacquiao was accurate and there was something behind every punch and when Cotto threw a punch, it was very slow, he was just pawing the punches out there. He didn’t want to suffer more damage or get hurt.
DT I never thought I would see Cotto run from another fighter but I did last Saturday night.
AMJ It was like he wanted to go the distance and that would be good enough. I have been in the ring with him two times and it certainly wasn’t the Cotto I knew and the corner wasn’t the same either. You’ve watched me ref fights and you know that I always go into the corners between rounds see what shape the fighter is in, to check his spirit so to speak. Cotto’s corner people in those two fights were always upbeat and saying things like “come on we got him”. They use a word in Spanish in his corner “hombre fuerte” meaning you are a strong man and I didn’t hear that kind of chanting coming from his corner. I didn’t hear his chief second talking to him. There was no one encouraging him that he could do better. I knew he was in trouble when they went to both corners of the fight between rounds. On one side you had Freddie Roach encouraging Pacquiao and his second doing the same in Tagalog, the language of the Philippines. They go to Cotto’s corner and all his trainer was saying is “are you alright”? I don’t think his second said more than a couple of words the entire fight. Of course he had a very young trainer because he had a falling out with his Uncle who was training him. That may have had something to do with performance.
DT Arthur, the HBO crew was calling for a halt in the action early in the fight. I know you are reluctant to say anything negative about your peers but would you comment on how Kenny Bayless handled the fight. Specifically, should he have stopped the fight sooner?
AMJ You know it’s a tough call. It’s a Championship fight much like Clottey/ Cotto where one guy wanted out, in this fight it looked like Kenny was ready to step in, I believe in the six and the eighth rounds where Cotto was being hit with several shots but just as Kenny was stepping in, Cotto answered back with six or seven punches. That’s what gets me when the HBO crew who are sitting there watching and it’s a whole different story when you are in the ring trying to determine if a fighter can still protect himself. I’ve had Max Kellerman screaming at me, Stop this fight. I went to the corner and told the kid that I would stop the fight if he didn’t show me something. The kid told me, David, that he was only taking the round off that he was not hurt and sure enough the kid came back and won the next two rounds. That was the eight and ninth rounds, but in the 10th round the kid took two shots and was knocked out. Who could have possibly predicted that would happen after winning the two previous rounds. It’s a very tough job for the referee to play doctor and make those kinds of decisions. You can always second guess the referee and that’s part of the sport. The golden rule is protect yourself at all times and that’s what I looking for from the fighter. I think Kenny Bayless stopped the fight at the right time.
DT Where do you see Cotto’s career going?
AMJ I like the kid, but who else is there for him to fight. It’s almost like Jermain Taylor taking a beating from Arthur Abraham. Sometimes enough is enough and that’s what’s wrong with some fighters, they just don’t know when to hang them up. They fall in love with the limelight and it’s tough for them to walk away from the only thing they know which is boxing.
DT And Pacquiao?
AMJ I am hearing rumors that it will be Pacquiao and Mayweather next year at Yankee Stadium. It’s hard to predict because of all the money involved but it would be difficult to see either fighter taking another fight and jeopardize the money they could get from fighting each other. I am sure that both camps want the fight to happen and of course HBO would be behind it full force. I think that the public wants this fight to happen and it probably will.
DT Arthur, I know you won’t talk about the possible winner of that mega, mega, mega, fight but where would you place a fight like that in the history of boxing.
AMJ Right up there with the first fight with Ali and Frazier. It would be a super event that would draw fans from around the world.
DT If I remember correctly, your Father worked that fight so it would only be fitting that you were the referee for a Pacquiao/ Mayweather event.
AMJ I would love to do that fight. The Ali/ Frazier fight was my Dad’s signature fight so to speak and I would love to have an event like that on my resume. My wife would be saying prayers every day that I get the call for that one.
DT You deserve the shot and I believe that Yankee stadium would be the best venue for such a terrific fight. And Arthur Mercante Jr. would be the perfect third man in the ring for that one!
AMJ David thanks for those kind words. If I got the call for that fight you would be my guest at the fight.
DT Thank You. Arthur, best wishes for the rest of this year and 2010. The best is yet to come.
AMJ David, keep up the good work. My friends follow your interviews on the internet and tell me that you are doing a terrific job. Best wishes to you.
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