Luis Pabon: Was the Referee Right?

by
Luis Pabon: Was the Referee Right?
Theophane was not seriously hurt, which is more important than a win or loss, even if he did not realize it at the time. (Photo: Getty Images)

Luis Pabon: Was the Referee Right?

by
Luis Pabon: Was the Referee Right?
Theophane was not seriously hurt, which is more important than a win or loss, even if he did not realize it at the time. (Photo: Getty Images)

Theophane was not seriously hurt, which is more important than a win or loss, even if he did not realize it at the time. (Photo: Getty Images)
Theophane was not seriously hurt, which means more than a win or loss, even if he did not realize it at the time. (Photo: Getty)

Friday night’s fight at the DC Armory in Washington, DC, between Adrien Broner (32-2, 24 KOs) and Ashley Theophane (39-7-1, 11 KOs) ended controversially.

Broner, of course, courts controversy, which dogs him wherever he goes and whatever he does. But this is one instance when “The Problem” wasn’t the problem. The problem, such as it is or was, concerns a possibly premature stoppage by veteran referee Luis Pabon.

Theophane criticized Pabon’s ninth round stoppage and he was not alone. The Brit was coming on, according to our scorecard, going into round nine. Broner’s out of the ring distractions affected his performance inside the ring, but there was never any doubt who would win the fight. It was just a matter of time.

“I thought the stoppage was premature,” said Theophane when it was over, “because I thought I was in the fight. Me and Broner were going at it. It looked like he was starting to get tired because he started to move around and wasn’t able to stay there with me as much.

“I thought the fight was back and forth and I think the next four rounds would have been the same. No way should the fight have gotten stopped. It’s a shame the referee did that. I was telling the referee, ‘I’m okay, I’m okay.’ Then he waived it off. I don’t know what he was thinking.”

Broner knew what Pabon was thinking. He knew what Theophane was thinking, as well.

“He came and do his best,” said Broner. “He was definitely tough. He wasn’t giving up, but every time I hit him he made a noise like I was…sticking it to him. He definitely came to fight, but he knew from the first round that I was everything they said I was, a problem. After the first round when I hurt him, I came back and told Floyd, I said I’ma stop him. I knew I was going to stop him.”

Broner got that right, but Pabon stopped it, not as a favor to Broner, but because he didn’t want to see Theophane hurt.

Being a ref isn’t easy. Protecting a fighter is less a science than an art. Requiring split-second decisions in the heat of battle, mistakes are sometimes made, but referees take their job very seriously. Anything less would be a dereliction of duty. An error of judgment can be a matter of life and death. Given the stark nature of those terms, erring on the side of caution makes all the sense in the world.

Luis Pabon has been taken to task in the past, but he was in the ring to protect the fighters, to protect Theophane, as it turned out, which is exactly what he did.

The soft-spoken veteran referee spoke with FightNews.com about the fight and explained why he waved it off when he did.

“I stopped the fight due to the superiority of Broner, who had hurt Theophane in several rounds,” he said. “Theophane had won only two rounds at most. He wasn’t fully KO’d, but was very weak. So I let him get hurt more? It is clear that after he was hurt by Broner, he pointed to me with his left hand that signifies ‘no more.’ In boxing, a boxer does not request time when he’s still fighting.”

Pabon’s job is to protect the fighters. Theophane was not seriously hurt, which means more than a win or loss, even if he did not realize it at the time.

This article was penned by the author who is not related to the WBA and the statements, expressions or opinions referenced herein are that of the author alone and not the WBA.


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