Sunday, February 14, 2010

Controversial Cole out of Pacquiao bout

MANILA, Philippines - Laurence Cole, who called a slip a knockdown and a knockdown a slip when Manny Pacquiao fought Marco Antonio Barrera in San Antonio in 2003, will not be on the ring when the Filipino ring master takes on Joshua Clottey.

It was announced a few days ago that Cole, who normally gets the assignment during big fights in Texas, would officiate the coming bout, but yesterday it was reported that Rafael Ramos has been designated as the referee.

The Examiner’s Michael Marley described Ramos, who officiated the 2009 Fight of the Year between Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Diaz, as “a respected referee and allows for action if there’s going to be action.”

While there were concerns when Cole’s name came up as the referee for the Pacquiao-Clottey fight, there seemed to be no official protest coming from the Pacquiao camp or if there was any, such move was kept under wraps.

Cole was the third man on the ring during the first Pacquiao-Barrera showdown at the Alamodome almost seven years ago. And many believed that Cole leaned toward the Mexican assassin during the fight.

In the 2:32 mark of the first round, Pacquiao landed a lead left on Barrera’s face, and as the Pinoy icon moved to his side, the Mexican stepped on his right foot, forcing him to sway back and hit the floor.

Cole ruled it as a knockdown, and Pacquiao was just as surprised as ring analyst Larry Merchant who then said, “I’m not sure if Cole saw a punch and I’m not also sure if there was a punch” landed by Barrera.

Pacquiao knocked Barrera down in the third round, and with 10 seconds left in the sixth, he caught the Mexican with a good, short punch. Once again Barrera went down. But Cole was quick to rule it as a slip.

Again, Merchant said, “that sure looks more like a knockdown than in the first round.”

That won’t happen on March 13 at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, as Ramos, and not Cole, has been assigned to handle the fight where Pacquiao will put his WBO welterweight championship on the line.

It will be the first time since 2006 that a Pacquiao fight will not be officiated by Kenny Bayless, Tony Weeks or Vic Draculich who have alternated in the pound-for-pound champion’s last eight fights.

“The best news, of course, is this means that oft-derided Texas referee Laurence Cole won’t be the third man, which was feared by most the minute this fight was announced,” Marley wrote yesterday.


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