Recently Heavyweight prospect Artur Szpilka (13-0, 10) was given the toughest test of his career as American Mike Mollo (20-4-1, 12) genuinely gave him a hellish time. Sadly however it wasn't either fighter that really made a lasting impression but instead foul mouthed referee Celestino Ruiz who genuinely needs to be asked questions after his showing in the bout.

The bout, which had a great atmosphere started well with Mollo bringing the pressure to Szpilka and although Mollo looked crude (and like he was wearing tights) he came to fight. The opening round was pretty clean until Mollo seemed to wrestle Szpilka down after hurting the Pole. The referee then made his first mistake by counting it as a knockdown.

As if Ruiz knew he had made a mistake he tried to level things up and soon afterwards he was warning Mollo for infractions that didn't seem to happen (at least not deliberately) and then swore at him as he exclaimed "Watch your fucking head". Soon after the warning for the head the referee started warning Mollo for use of the elbow.

Early in round 2 Mollo was again warned, for what was effectively just him tying Szpilka up (and this even elected Teddy Atlas to make a comment about the referee "that doesn't seem to like Mollo too much"). Late in round 2 a bloody Mollo was taken to the ringside Dr to evaluate the cuts (including a second one that had been caused by an elbow) and after the Dr was done Ruiz again shouted at Mollo. As the bell went to end the round Mollo threw shots at Szpilka and almost got wrestled to his corner by Ruiz who then went into Mollo's corner and started to yell at him once again.

At the very start of round 3 the referee threaten to disqualify either man if any more offenses occurred, despite having not taken a point from either fight up to this point. It was obvious from the state of the cuts on Mollo's face that he shouldn't have been allowed to continue and with a minute left the referee took Mollo over to a different Dr. The Dr didn't look very happy though allowed the bout to continue. Close to the end of the round Mollo was again told to "watch the elbow" oddly whilst he getting hit from distance by Szpilka.

Part way through the 4th round Mollo was again taken over to the Dr who effectively cleaned the cut before the referee ordered them to fight on. Amazingly the Dr, who had said Mollo was fit to continue had himself been covered with Mollo's blood. Although Mollo did drop Szpilka immediately after seeing the Dr the bout really should have already been stopped as a No Contest.

Early in round 5 the referee again made life hard for Mollo. After Szpilka went down from what the referee clearly called a "slip", he then deducted a point from Mollo, which lead to Teddy Atlas asking "why?" and the crowd booing loudly. At one point later in round 5 Mollo looked to the referee as if he though Ruiz was going to shout at him again.

Sadly for Mollo he was stopped in the following round by a wonderful combination by Szpilka, though the controversy from Ruiz is really the lingering story from the bout.

Amazingly Ruiz has been a referee since around 2007 and has done numerous bouts so the unprofessionalism shown here really isn't the behavior that we'd expect from him. Hopefully the commission has dragged him over the hot coals and given him a much needed suspension after this horrific and "show stealing" performance which was given help by the Dr's.

The fight, in it's entirety can be seen below thanks to SzpilkaMolloKO
 
If you go around internet forums you'll find the term "British Stoppage" thrown about a fair bit to describe a very poor referee stoppage in Britain. Often these happen when the "opponent" is taking a few shots on the ropes, or appears to go wobbly legged. Although there are some really poor ones, such as the stoppage of Enzo Maccarinelli (v Ovill McKenzie) by Ian John Lewis, I tend not to subscribe to the wide spread view that there is a lot of them.

Sadly however last weekend showed that there is such a thing as a British stoppage as veteran referee Terry O'Connor made a complete hash up of things as Chris Eubank Jr (9-0, 4) stopped Latvian banger Olegs Fedotovs (15-10, 11). The referee first stepped between the two fighters early in the second round (around 28 seconds in to the video below) distracting Fedotovs who took a hard shot just seconds later.

If his first balls up had finished the fight then we'd have complained loudly, sadly however O'Connor failed to control the action in the following minute or so before finally waving the bout off with Fedotovs looking completely fine. Whilst, as you can see in the video, Eubank was getting the better of things with his superior speed he was being tagged back by Fedotovs who was doing a solid job of defending himself.

The decision to stop the fight didn't seem to please either fighter with Eubank clearly shrugging his shoulders at the stoppage whilst Fedotovs appeared to be making it very clear that he was in no harm. In fact Fedotovs wanted little to do with the referee following the stoppage and was very reluctant to even look at O'Connor as the official announcement was made. In fact Fedotovs made it very obvious that he wasn't going to hold O'Connor's hand until the referee forcibly grabbed his wrist in an aggressive manner that further rubbed salt in to the wounds of a fighter who had genuinely be

When you look at who Fedotovs has been in with, including the likes of former title contenders Henry Weber, Andy Lee and Khoren Gevor as well as current WBA interim Super Middleweight world champion Stanyslav Kashtanov. We know he's a tough guy and only Gevor from that list of fighters has managed to stop him. Sadly this victory, on paper will make Eubank seem like he's on that level when really it was a number of botched calls by 59 year old O'Connor who simply failed to do his job.

I'm happy to call a spade a spade and from this showing O'Connor looked completely clueless and the stoppage was a disgrace. Hopefully Fedotovs got a rightful apology and won't be refusing to fight in Britain, though stoppages like this really make me wonder why any fighter fights in our great country.

Video below is thanks to UsernameYouCantHate
 
A number of officials in our great sport really make a mockery of things and one of those is British judge and referee Ian John-Lewis. Lewis, a "Star Class" referee is seen by the powers that be, as one of Britain's top officials, something that strikes me as a real mystery.

Born in Gillingham, Kent, John-Lewis used to be a professional fighter, running up a less than spectacular professional record of 14-6 (9) between 1987 and 1992. As a fighter Lewis wasn't the most durable being stopped 5 times in his 6 losses.

After retiring from fighting himself, John-Lewis soon found his way back on to the boxing circuit as he began his career as an official, officiating as a referee as early as 1993, not much more than a year after he'd retired from being an active fighter. After refereeing numerous small level bouts, John-Lewis would soon begin to act as a judge as well.

Early on it was hard to complain about the work Ian John-Lewis was doing and he was rightfully being moved on to more and more meaningful bouts. He was starting to look like a really, really promising young official, in fact had someone wanted to describe him as the best in Britain few would have argued.

Sadly things started to take a turn for the worst in 2007 when Ian John-Lewis' card of 95-95 in the Simona Galassi v Nadia Hokmi bout cost Hokmi the EBU Female Flyweight title. Although the bout was a pretty low profile one, it irked many who felt the visiting French fighter had been shafted (excuse the wording) out of the European title by the scoring of both John-Lewis and Francisco Vazquez Marcos against her Italian opponent. Since then however he has been involved in several controversies.

In 2008 Matthew Marsh won a close and very competitive bout with Esham Pickering. The bout was separated by little more than a round on the other 2 scores cards (116-113, 115-113) yet in the eyes of John-Lewis he thought it was a very one-sided bout scoring it 117-111 to Marsh. Yes the other judges saw it, like most, to be a close bout, yet John-Lewis had it 9 rounds to 3! John-Lewis' scoring was again called in to question just months later when he was again a judge at a Matthew Marsh fight, when he went the opposite way and scored a draw in a bout the other two judges saw as a Marsh win.

Despite his issues in 2008, John-Lewis had a generally good 2009, though sadly things then suddenly started to get worse. In late 2010 John-Lewis scored the first Stephen Smith v John Simpson bout as a very easy looking win for Smith (116-112) in a bout many had Simpson winning. The same year he almost saw Shannon Briggs beaten to death by Vitali Klitschko whilst looking on as the referee, he seemed almost clueless as to how badly Briggs was being beaten despite the fact he was doing nothing other than becoming a punch bag.

Just months later John-Lewis was embroiled in a high profile scoring "cock up" as he scored Joe Ainscough v Wayne Reed 30-28 despite Ainscough being dropped in round 3, a round he must have scored 10-10 despite the knockdown! The mistake in the Ainscough v Reed fight should really have been something that was punished. Instead however John-Lewis was given another chance to mess up as he gifted (literally gifted) Tom Dallas a victory over Zack Page as a scoring referee.

Just days after helping Dallas to victory over Page, he was sent over to Canada to be the referee of Jean Pascal v Bernard Hopkins II, a fight that he simply wasn't suitable for. Hopkins' literally broke the rules at will with out punishment whilst touchdowns, by both men, weren't met by wiping of the gloves. This bout alone showed that Ian John-Lewis didn't belong in a major world title bout with an iconic fighter as he often looked in awe at Hopkins' piss taking.

Sadly John-Lewis' scoring and officiating didn't swiftly improve and later in 2011 we saw him horribly scoring Leon Williams over Rob Norton by a score of 116-113, and some how (really mystifyingly) scoring Lee Purdy v Colin Lynes as a draw in a bout that Lynes clearly won (I think I had it 119-111). The scoring here really should have seen him pulled up in front of the board but instead it appears that nothing was done or asked about him.

Thankfully for us as fans John-Lewis' scoring hasn't been too questionable this year, however his refereeing has been relatively hapless. Not only did he effectively allow Jody Meikle to foul (a clear headbutt in the opening round) against Lian Shinkwin, but he also stupidly stopped Enzo Maccarinelli over Ovill McKenzie in a decision that really should have been the final straw.

Whilst some are willing to give extra chances (including those in charge at the BBBOfC) I've had enough and will refuse to accept Ian John-Lewis as a credible official. His track record in recent years is disgusting and the guy simply needs retraining and soon, before he gets to ruin any more fights!