Commission to review Mayweather-Judah melee

Updated: April 9, 2006, 5:27 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

LAS VEGAS -- Marc Ratner, the longtime executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, has one more mess to clean up before leaving his post next month for a new job -- the aftermath of Saturday night's ugly melee during the Floyd Mayweather-Zab Judah welterweight fight.

Zab Judah
David Martin Warr/Don King ProductionsZab Judah gets more than he bargained for from one of Floyd Mayweather's cornermen during a chaotic scuffle ignited by a low blow Judah delivered to Mayweather in the 10th.

Ratner said Sunday the commission will hold a special hearing Thursday to review the 10th-round incident that nearly sparked a full-scale riot in the crowd of 15,170 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Mayweather was cruising to an eventual unanimous decision when, with five seconds left in the 10th round, Judah hammered him with a severe left to the groin followed by a right hand that hit him behind the head as he was doubling over from the low blow.

That sparked Mayweather's trainer and uncle, Roger Mayweather, to charge the ring to confront Judah.

Referee Richard Steele intercepted Roger Mayweather, but Yoel Judah, Zab's father and trainer, then ran into the ring and threw a punch at Roger Mayweather.

All of it led to the ring being stormed by the fighter entourages, security and others from the crowd, causing chaos all around the ringside area.

As the fans howled and some threw beer and food, police officers quickly surrounded the ring. Some had their hands poised close to their guns as they warned people trying to climb into the ring that they better not.

After several minutes, order was restored and the fight eventually continued with Mayweather rolling to the victory, one that the Judah camp is protesting because of the incident.

Judah said that Roger Mayweather choked him during the melee and promoter Don King showed the media photographs that appeared to back up Judah's claim.

"I'm not a dirty fighter," Judah said. "Mayweather is a great defensive fighter. Every time that I went to throw body shots, he would drop. My thing was to get a little bit extra 'oomph' in my body shots. I didn't mean it. But his uncle Roger jumped in and began to choke me. Security had my arm and he was choking me."

The commission is withholding the purses of both fighters pending Thursday's review. Mayweather is due $5 million and Judah $1 million, although much of his purse will be seized by the IRS, which has a lien against him.

"The commission could fine the fighters, but they did go 12 rounds and completed the fight," Ratner said. "Even if there are fines, the purses will still be released. Even the IRS had to wait. This is a mess."

Ratner said Roger Mayweather is expected to attend the hearing to explain his actions.

"The commission may fine him, revoke his license or do a myriad of things, but clearly he was in the wrong," Ratner said.

Floyd Mayweather said that during the week, he and his team had talked about the possibility of Judah resorting to illegal tactics if he got desperate.

"Roger said early in the week if he did something dirty he was going to go in the ring and confront him," Mayweather admitted.

He later said, "I got hit with a low blow and what happened, happened. Things happen in boxing. We'll get everything cleared up and move on from here. I was about to stop Zab when the commotion happened. The low blow hurt real bad. Before that happened, he was ready to go. I was breaking him down and getting ready to knock him out, and the next thing you know, I get hit with a low blow and the ring is filled with people.

"When it happened, I was like, 'Wow.' That's all I was saying. I'm a gentleman and I conduct myself in a professional way, so, of course, I didn't like seeing that. I love my Uncle Roger and I stick with him. He'll always be my trainer."

Roger Mayweather could not be reached for comment.

Leonard Ellerbe, a Mayweather adviser who works in the corner, took over as the chief when Roger Mayweather was ejected.

"If he had to look back at it, he probably thinks he shouldn't have done it," Ellerbe said. "But Roger is on the team and we support him. We're just lucky nobody got hurt. But remember one thing -- despite all that happened, Floyd showed he is the best fighter in the world."

King was adamant that Floyd Mayweather should have immediately been disqualified when his cornerman stepped onto the ring apron, much less got into the ring.

"In any commission in the world, that's a disqualification," King said. "For the integrity of the sport, that has to be a disqualification. Steele was going to give Zab a warning [for the illegal punches], but Roger compounded it and caused a riot. That's the end of the fight. If you're not going to uphold the rules then it's another black eye for the sport.

"The fighter had a third man in the ring. That is unheard of. The third man was chasing my fighter around. It should be a total disqualification."

Ratner said Nevada rules don't call for an immediate disqualification.

"I read the rule with my attorney general and, to paraphrase it, it says a referee 'may' disqualify a fighter if someone from his corner enters the ring," Ratner said. "There is no automatic disqualification. It may be that way in some states, but the rule is not written like that in the Nevada statutes. Richard could have disqualified him, but he and I and my commissioners talked about it and he was not disqualified.

"There could have been points deducted because of Zab's low blow and the blow behind the head. You could have had a double disqualification because of the other side [Yoel Judah] also coming into the ring and throwing punches. But if we did that, you might have had a full-scale problem in the arena."

Steele, a veteran referee who has seen his share of ring controversies, said he didn't feel a disqualification was warranted.

"Disqualification is at our discretion and we didn't want to see the fight end like that," he said. "The fighters didn't do anything to get disqualified, and you have to think about the sport and the fans. I think we did a good job. We got the situation under control and we got the fight to its natural conclusion, and we let the fans get their money's worth."

Ratner agreed and said he believed the commission and security did an excellent job making sure the situation didn't blow up into a major riot.

Ratner also praised ring announcer Michael Buffer, who took it upon himself to use his microphone to try to calm the crowd by offering updates on the situation and asking people to take their seats.

"Everybody reacted properly, including Michael Buffer," Ratner said. "He was very good at trying to calm the crowd. I thought between Richard and my inspectors and the police, everybody did what they did to stop it immediately before anyone got hurt. If there hadn't been a proper reaction it could have turned into a horrible, horrible thing."

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.

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