Malpractice is a word that immediately leaps to mind when thinking of the jobs that Ian John-Lewis and Herman Caicedo did – or, more properly, failed to do – on Saturday in Hamburg, Germany, during the World Boxing Council heavyweight title fight between Vitali Klitschko and Shannon Briggs.
The words incompetence and carelessness also come to mind.
Briggs took a horrific beating from Klitschko in a terribly one-sided fight and wound up in a German hospital with serious injuries. He suffered a broken left orbital bone, a broken nose and a torn left biceps in a bout in which he never came close to winning a round.
John-Lewis was the referee for the fight and he stood idly by as the powerful Klitschko, who had knocked out 38 of his previous 42 opponents, pounded Briggs unmercifully. The fight could have been halted as early as the sixth round, when it was clear Klitschko was far too much for Briggs to handle.
A fighter's safety is the primary responsibility of the referee and John-Lewis failed miserably. Fortunately for Briggs, he'll be able to recover from his injuries and says he wants to continue his boxing career, but the long, sustained punishment he absorbed in that bout is the kind that often leads to a tragic conclusion.
Rarely does a fighter die from a one-punch blow. I have covered numerous matches in which a fighter has died as a result of injuries he suffered in the ring and in nearly every case, the fighter absorbed dozens of punches to the head, round after round after round.
John-Lewis was negligent in failing to halt the carnage and should face sanctions from the boxing regulatory bodies which have licensed him.
Caicedo was Briggs' lead trainer and he, like John-Lewis, was completely irresponsible sending Briggs back out to fight. Just finishing a fight on his feet is not reason enough to allow a man to take the kind of a punishment that Briggs was permitted to endure.
Caicedo has said in interviews that Briggs didn't want the bout to be stopped, but that shouldn't matter in the least. Like the referee, the trainer's primary job is to look out for the health and safety of his boxer. And when he realizes his boxer is facing an undue risk, he needs to halt the bout.
Briggs said he's going to fight again once he recovers. I sincerely hope it's when he recovers, but the remnants of the Klitschko fight may stay with him a long time. Freddie Roach has Parkinson's, brought on by fighting far too long and absorbing punches he shouldn't have taken.
Hopefully, Briggs won't wind up in a similar boat. If he manages to avoid long-term damage, it will be no thanks to the work of John-Lewis and Caicedo on Oct. 16 in Germany.
With that, let's take a look at the new Yahoo! Sports boxing rankings. We've added three new voters to the poll this month, with Showtime boxing analysts Al Bernstein and Steve Farhood participating, along with Damian Calhoun of the Orange County Register.
1. Manny Pacquiao
Points: 382 (31 of 39 first-place votes)
Record: 51-3-2 (38 KOs)
Title: WBO welterweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Joshua Clottey on March 13
Previous ranking: 1
Up next: Nov. 13 in Dallas against Antonio Margarito
Analysis:Margarito's height advantage poses unique problem.
2. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Points: 358 (8 of 39 first-place votes)
Record: 41-0 (25 KOs)
Last outing: W12 over No. 10 Shane Mosley on May 1
Previous ranking: 2
Up next:Nothing scheduled
Analysis: Legal woes place cloud over his boxing future.
3. Paul Williams
Record: 39-1 (27 KOs)
Last outing: TD4 over Kermit Cintron on May 8
Previous ranking: 3
Up next: Nov. 20 in Atlantic City vs. No. 5 Sergio Martinez
Analysis:Large wingspan and volume punching make him a difficult matchup.
4. Juan Manuel Marquez
Record: 51-5-1 (37 KOs)
Title: WBA, WBO lightweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Juan Diaz on July 31
Previous ranking: 4
Up next: Nov. 27 in Las Vegas vs. Michael Katsidis
Analysis: Still one of game's most complete fighters.
5. Sergio Martinez
Record: 45-2-2 (24 KOs)
Title: WBC middleweight champion
Last outing: W12 Kelly Pavlik on April 17
Previous ranking: 5
Up next: Nov. 20 in Atlantic City vs. No. 3 Paul Williams
Analysis: Superior conditioning allows him to fight at quick pace.
6. Wladimir Klitschko
Record: 55-3 (49 KOs)
Title: IBF, WBO heavyweight champion
Last outing: TKO10 over Samuel Peter on Sept. 11
Previous ranking: 6
Up next: Dec. 11 in Germany vs. Dereck Chisora
Analysis: Only realistic threat to beat him is his older brother, Vitali.
7. Timothy Bradley
Record: 26-0 (11 KOs)
Title: WBO super lightweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Luis Carlos Abregu on July 17
Previous ranking: 7
Up next:Jan. 29 vs. Devon Alexander
Analysis:Some question his chin, but Bradley always gets up after going down.
8. Andre Ward
Record: 22-0 (13 KOs)
Title: WBA super middleweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Allan Green on June 19
Previous ranking: 8
Up next: Nov. 27 in Oakland, Calif. vs. Sakio Bika
Analysis:Now the clear favorite to win the Super Six.
9. Juan Manuel Lopez
Record: 29-0 (26 KOs)
Title: WBO featherweight champion
Last outing: TKO2 over Bernabe Concepcion on July 10
Previous ranking: 9
Up next: Nov. 6 in Las Vegas vs. Rafael Marquez
Analysis: One of most explosive punchers in the game.
10. Nonito Donaire Jr.
Record: 24-1 (16 KOs)
Title: Interim WBA super flyweight champion
Last outing: TKO8 over Hernan Marquez on July 10
Previous ranking: 10
Up next:Dec. 4 in Anaheim, Calif. vs. Volodymyr Sydorenko
Analysis: Dynamic puncher developing all-around game.
Others receiving votes: Lucian Bute, 49; Vitali Klitschko, 49; Bernard Hopkins, 40; Fernando Montiel, 30; Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, 16; Yuriorkis Gamboa, 12; Celestino Caballero, 9; Jean Pascal, 9; Shane Mosley, 8; Israel Vazquez, 7; Miguel Cotto, 6; Rafael Marquez, 5; Tomasz Adamek, 3; Devon Alexander, 3; Andre Berto, 3; Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym, 3; Vic Darchinyan, 2; Chris John, 2; Anselmo Moreno, 1.
Voting panel: Al Bernstein, Showtime; Damian Calhoun, Orange County Register; Steve Cofield, Yahoo! Sports; Gareth A. Davies, London Telegraph; Tris Dixon, Boxing News; Andrew Eisele, About.com; Steve Farhood, Showtime; Doug Fischer, RingTV.com; Scott Fyfe, Sunday Post, Scotland; Carlos Gonzalez, Primera Hora; Randy Gordon, Sirius/XM; Lee Groves, BoxingScene.com; Thomas Hauser, Seconds Out; Keith Idec, Herald News, New Jersey; Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports; Max Kellerman, HBO; Scott Mallon, Boxing Digest; Chris Mannix, Sports Illustrated; Rich Marotta, Fox Sports; David Mayo, Grand Rapids Press; Franklin McNeil, ESPN; Gunnar Meinhardt, Die Welt; Robert Morales, Los Angeles Daily News; Marty Mulcahey, MaxBoxing.com; Kieran Mulvaney, Reuters; Peter Owen Nelson, freelance; Brett Okamoto, Las Vegas Sun; Santos Perez, Miami Herald; Cliff Rold, Boxingscene.com; Martin Rogers, Yahoo! Sports; Michael Rosenthal, RingTV.com; Lem Satterfield, Fanhouse.com; Tim Smith, New York Daily News; Don Steinberg, Philadelphia Inquirer & Wall Street Journal; T.K. Stewart, Boxingscene.com; Paul Upham, Seconds Out; Dave Weinberg, Press of Atlantic City; John Whisler, San Antonio Express-News; George Willis, New York Post.