Boxing Returns to Yankee Stadium with a Side Dish of Controversy

Controversial non-stoppage mars end of first fight at new stadium

By Josh Alper
|  Tuesday, Jun 8, 2010  |  Updated 6:27 AM EDT
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Boxing Returns to Yankee Stadium with a Side Dish of Controversy

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Cotto's up, Foreman's down.

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What began as a triumphant night for a sport that's seen better days ended with yet another reminder of why boxing has slipped so far in our national landscape.

Boxing's return to Yankee Stadium ended in wild fashion, although the final blow wasn't the whipped cream pie to the face that the stadium's usual residents have made famous. It was a Miguel Cotto left hook to Yuri Foreman's body, one that staggered and finally dropped a fighter who probably shouldn't have been out there in the first place.

The fight appeared to end in the eighth round when a towel flew into the ring from Foreman's corner, likely a result of Foreman's wife spending the break between the seventh and eighth rounds imploring her husband and his trainer to stop the fight after Foreman hurt his knee when he slipped during the seventh round.

The cornermen moved into the ring, the fighters hugged and the fight screeched to an unfortunate, anti-climactic and ultimately sensible conclusion.

Except it didn't.

In a move that is still generating discussion, referee Arthur Mercante Jr. refused to stop the fight, saying afterward that Foreman said he didn't want to stop the fight. Mercante also pointed out that the corner can't stop a fight per New York rules and said that the two fighters were still battling each other, an assertion that was hard to believe given how poorly Foreman was moving on his injured knee.

Now Foreman's wife and his trainer are both slamming Mercante in the press and it's hard to blame them for their anger.

In addition to enforcing the rules, the referee's job is to protect the fighters from getting themselves hurt any worse than necessary by making sure that the fight is still competitive.

This one wasn't and it wasn't going to get any more competitive as Foreman dragged himself around the ring and threw punches off of a wounded wheel. That's why it doesn't matter what Foreman said, because Mercante's job is to make it so that he doesn't have to be the one who actually quits. 

Hopefully Mercante wasn't taking into account the venue or the fact that the fight was on HBO when he made his decision to let the fight continue. No one wants to see a fight end early nor do they want to see it end without a definitive victory for either fighter, but that's the nature of the game sometimes.   

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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