Being a referee is, perhaps, one of the most under appreciated jobs in the sporting world.
Referees are rarely praised for making the right call and, when a slip-up happens, you can be sure to see their names in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Conor McGregor’s controversial sparring footage with Paulie Malignaggi has stirred up debate as to whether the Irishman actually knocked down the former two-weight boxing world champion.
McGregor, who is making final preparations for Floyd Mayweather Jr., looks to have knocked Malignaggi down with a short right hand. Malignaggi, however, and several other combat sports fans argue that ‘The Notorious’ pushed him to the canvas or caught him off balance.
California State Athletic Commission boxing referee and judge Tom Taylor, who has watched the footage several times, says it would have been a tough call to make for any referee.
Taylor says it could have gone either way in the heat of the moment but, after watching the replay, believes it wasn’t a knockdown.
“I can’t tell you how I would have scored it live,” Taylor told MMA Fighting’s Marc Raimondi. “I may have called it a knockdown, because the last thing to land was a short right hand to the side of Paulie’s head. That could still constitute a knockdown.
“It’s a judgment call and I think it could go either way. I wouldn’t argue it either way if a referee said it was a knockdown or no knockdown.
“Live, it looked like a knockdown. The first time I looked at the video — that quick six, seven seconds — it looked like a knockdown. But when you slow it down, you can see how he has him held down behind his neck, behind his head. Paulie pulls up and [McGregor] lets go, [Malignaggi’s] momentum is taking him. And then there’s that short little right hand that lands.
“So it would definitely be a judgment call right then and there. But looking at this video, I would say no knockdown.”
Veteran boxing referee Joe Cortez, who has been brought into McGregor’s camp to help familiarize him with the rules, has reportedly signed a non-disclosure agreement and has not stated whether it was ruled a knockdown or not.
Taylor, though, believes Cortez was going to call it a no knockdown and give McGregor a warning.
“If you listen to his voice, he goes, ‘Whoa, whoa!’” Taylor said of Cortez. “To me, that means he was gonna call it a no knockdown, in my opinion. ‘Whoa, whoa’ as a referee means, ‘Oh, whoa, whoa, I see something that wasn’t right.’ Holding a guy’s head down: ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, stop.’ Something like that and Paulie is already down. To me, it looked like Joe was going to call that a no knockdown.”
Knockdown or no knockdown, McGregor will meet Mayweather in the boxing ring on August 26 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.