Steve Weisfeld Here Come’s the Judge! By Ken Hissner (July 10, 2010) Doghouse Boxing
New Jersey’s Steve Weisfeld is a top notch world boxing judge who has worked over seventy world title bouts in fifteen states in the US and nine foreign countries. Whether it’s at the legendary Blue Horizon in Philadelphia or the East Cape of South Africa no one centers in on a bout like Weisfeld.
I have watched Weisfeld over the years position himself on that judge stool and re-position himself through the ropes like no other judge I have seen. You will never see him asleep at the wheel. He was voted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2009 and honored as their “Man of the Year”.
Weisfeld got his start in 1985 working the amateurs for five years before his apprenticeship started in the professional ranks in 1990. His first show as an official judge was September 20, 1991. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Cornell Law School. When he isn’t judging he is a real estate lawyer for Beattie Padovano.
Some of the past shows Weisfeld judged were both Bowe-Golata bouts. He worked the Wladimir Klitschko and Sultan Ibragimov title bout in Madison Square Garden. He did the Chris Byrd bouts with Evander Holyfield and Golota. The latter bout was a draw and he voted for Golata in that bout as did this writer though I was pulling for Byrd.
Most recently Weisfeld judged the Foreman-Cotto bout at Yankee Stadium, Kahn-Malignaggi in Madison Square Garden and Hopkins-Pavlik in Atlantic City to name a few. He has worked the worked Tomasz Adamek’s Newark bouts with Jonathan Banks and Jason Estrada. In South Africa Weisfeld worked the Ali Funeka-Zahir Raheem bout.
The last time I saw Weisfeld was at the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame Dinner in May and asked if I could do a Q&A with him. We recently got together and went over some of his experiences.
KEN HISSNER: What was the major difference going from the amateurs to the professionals?
STEVE WEISFELD: The major difference is that in the amateurs every single landed punch counts the same, from a knockdown to a less effective punch. In the professionals, the effectivess of the punch is vey significant.
KEN HISSNER: Can you share your experience when you worked in South Africa what the safety measures you must take while being there?
SEVE WEISFELD: I took the same precautions in South Africa that I would anywhere. But it really was a great thrill to judge the Funeka-Raheem bout. I loved South Africa, and had a great time during my trips there. I was very fortunate to see Mandela’s house and the East London Museum.
KEN HISSNER: What was it like the first time in 1991working your first show in New York?
STEVE WEISFELD: Although I had been judging amateur for awhile, and had just completed an apprenticeship, I was still a little nervous. The fights were shown on the old Sports Channel network. It was great working with Harold Lederman and the late Georgie Colon at that show. Larry Barnes was the main event that night, and he made our jobs easy by winning convincingly.
KEN HISSNER: Where have you found the fan’s to be the most hostile or should I say excited?
STEVE WEISFELD: As judges, we’re trained to ignore outside factors, so I can’t really think of any bad experiences with fans. If it wasn’t for the fans, we wouldn’t have jobs.
KEN HISSNER: Was the Hopkins-Pavlik bout in Atlantic City one of the easiest to score?
STEVE WEISFELD: Based upon the final score, it was certainly a one-sided bout. But we don’t judge the bout as a whole. While some rounds were easy to score, some were closer than others.
KEN HISSNER: Like most of us you had Golata ahead of Bowe in both fights. How disturbing was it watching what almost looked like Golata purposely landing low blows to Bowe?
STEVE WEISFELD: I can’t really pass judgement on what Golota’s though process was in throwing the low blows. However, I think that some people forget that Bowe took some hellacious shots especially in the second fight to put himself in a position to be able to win. He should get a lot of credit for that.
KEN HISSNER: What is your opinion on even rounds?
STEVE WEISFELD: They should be used sparingly. I would never say that there is no such thing as an even round. As you know, if a bout is stopped after the end of the fourth round because of an accidental foul, judges may be asked to score partial rounds. If there is absolutely no action in the partial round, the judges should not be forced to choose a winner. I probably have scored a handful of even rounds since 1991.
KEN HISSNER: If a referee rules what you consider a slip a knockdown will you score it as a knockdown?
STEVE WEISFELD: Definitely. It is up to the referee, not the judge, to determine what constitutes a knockdown. I remember during one fight thinking that the referee messed up, as he called it a knockdown when I though that it was a slip. But I went home, watched the tape, and the referee was absolutely correct. The referee is in the ring, and the judges are not, so it should be solely up to the referee to determine knockdowns.
KEN HISSNER: What is the biggest fight you have judged?
STEVE WEISFELD: I think the fights you mentioned were big fights, but it’s hard to say because sometimes a fight may seem “big” to some going in, but it turns out to be one-sided. Any time you judge a heavyweight championship it is a “big” fight whether it’s Lennox Lewis vs. Michael Grant, Chris Byrd vs Evander Holyfield, or Wladimir Klitschko vs Ray Austin. The comeback of Felix Trinidad against Ricardo Mayorga was a big fight. So was the fourth title that I ever judged the 1994 rematch between two classic boxers Pernell Whitaker and Buddy McGirt. I also had the honor to judge Ricardo Lopez and Zolani Petelo it was the last fight for Ricardo Lopez, and also the last time that Arthur Mercante refereed. And they both were great that night. Gatti-Ward I, Lopez-Mtagwa, and Toney-Jirov were also great fights. It’s also important to point out that every single bout is an important one to the boxers and the officials, and they all require our complete undivided attention.
KEN HISSNER: Do you ever get together with other judges after a show and discuss things?
STEVE WEISFELD: Sometimes we might discuss how we scored a particular fight, but not too often.
KEN HISSNER: What’s it like when the announcer says split decision and the other two judges disagree with you?
STEVE WEISFELD: It’s nice when we are all on the same page, but we’re also taught to have confidence in our own decisions. So we can’t get bent out of shape if there’s not unanimity. Also, the overall scores don’t show whether the similarity or differences in the round by round scores. Two judges on opposite sides of a split decision may actually have more in common with each other round by round than the two judges who were on the same side of the split. For example, two judges could each score a bout 96-94 for Boxer A, but could disagree on four of the ten rounds. Another judge of the same bout might have it 96-94 for Boxer B, but have the same round by round scores as one of the judges who scored it for Boxer A eight out of the ten times! So in order to analyze a judge, the individual rounds must be looked at.
KEN HISSNER: Speaking of announcers do you ever get your name mispronounced?
STEVE WEISFELD: The good announcers are conscientious, and ask ahead of time if they have any questions. However, I certainly have heard Weisfield or Westfield or something like that from time to time. It happens less now than when I first started.
KEN HISSNER: What kind of notice do you normally get that you will be working a show?
STEVE WEISFELD: Usually, about two weeks notice. Sometimes, I receive as much as six weeks notice. One time there was a miscommunication and I got a call at 7PM to judge a fight that night starting at 10PM and it wasn’t the easiest fight to score either! But, as any official can tell you, any notice is a good notice.
KEN HISSNER: What was it like when you were to judge the rematch of Paul Williams and Carlos Quintana after having a 12 round decision bout and the rematch ending in 2:31 of the 1st round?
STEVE WEISFELD: That’s why we judge the bout before us, and not pre-judge who may or may not win or what may or may not happen. It’s silly to try to predict what’s going to happen in an upcoming bout. We have to let the upcoming bout, and each round, speak for itself.
KEN HISSNER: When one fighter completely dominates a round but is knocked down just before the bell how would you normally score that round?
STEVE WEISFELD: Generally, if a boxer scores a knockdown, he wins the round 10-8. If, but for the knockdown, the other boxer clearly wins the round, it could be a 10-9 round. This has happened, but it’s obviously not the norm. It’s hard to respond to hypotheticals, but in your hypothetical, if a boxer who is winning a round by overwhelming dominance gets knocked down, it could be a rare 10-10 round.
KEN HISSNER: Have you ever had anyone come up to you during a fight and try to make conversation?
STEVE WEISFELD: On rare occasions, a cameraman might try to make some idle chit-chat, but obviously I can’t talk when I’m in my judge’s chair, whether during the bout or in between rounds.
KEN HISSNER: How much added pressure is it when you travel to a foreign country and the hometown favorite is fighting?
STEVE WEISFELD: There’s not any additional pressure. We still score one round at a time, and whoever wins, wins.
KEN HISSNER: Steve, as always it’s been my pleasure. I appreciate you not only taking the time for this interview but taking the time to talk prior to a show when time allows it.
STEVE WEISFELD: That was fun. Thanks, Ken.
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