By Ray Wheatley – World of Boxing
You were the third man in the ring for WBO super welterweight title bout featuring Tim Tszyu and Tony Harrison, a globally televised promotion. There was a live gate of over eleven thousand fans to witness this exciting contest. You performed your duties perfectly stopping the contest in round nine. Your thoughts of this fight?
The Tszyu-Harrison fight is on top of the list of fights I have officiated. I have refereed over 500 fights since I started in 2009. It is a 14 year career now and that fight was the biggest one. I am grateful that I have reached this level. As far as the viewership of the fight around the world including around Australia and the United States of course which is the biggest market that was shown on a international level especially on Showtime and over eleven thousand plus live gate. It was an electric environment and the brightest of lights of all the fights I have officiated. After 14 years that was my biggest assignment of my career.
When did you become interested in boxing?
I was born in the very small town of Aurora in the province of Zamboanga del Sur in Mindanao, the most southern province of the Philippines. It was one of the most peaceful provinces from that area. (There are many cases of insurgency by several armed groups, rebels, in Mindanao). My story of the journey in boxing started when I was 5 years old and my dad was an aficianado of boxing.
He was a big fan of boxing and a judge of fights that were unsanctioned. My father told me I must take a nap( sleep) before going to the fights on Saturdays. I did that because I was so interested and that started my love story with boxing from the age of 5 years. I started watching fights on television and studying boxing after that and maintained my interest in boxing until I became a referee and judge.
When did you referee your first world title and who were the boxers and for what championship? Your memories of that fight?
It was in 2014 in Japan for the Nao Ikeyama v Jessebelle Paguan WBO world atom fight. Of course, I was tense. I had been a referee for 5 years. I was very happy the fight went well with no controversy.
How many world championships have you refereed and what countries have you worked in? Which countries were your favorites?
I have worked in the UK, and I worked in Australia six times. I refereed Joseph Parker in New Zealand. Also in Macao, China with two Manny Pacquiao shows. I worked in South Korea and the United Arab Emirates in Dubai, Indonesia, I worked in India, Thailand, Ghana, Sri Lanka. Also in South Africa, Johannesburg and Durban, Mainland China. My favorite country is Australia, of course. I worked the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn fight in 2017. That is the biggest event I worked with over 50,000 boxing fans present. I did a WBO fight with Australian Damien Hooper.
The boxing world recently lost Hall of Fame referees Mills Lane and Steve Smoger. Did you meet them and did they influence your career? Your thoughts.
I met Steve Smoger personally at a convention. He was one of my favorites. He made the fighters fight. He liked to keep the action going. Steve was very compassionate, especially to the losing fighter. To the point of kissing the fighter. He was known for that.
Both Mills Lane and Steve Smoger were lawyers before becoming judges. (Danrex is also a lawyer.) They were honorable people. I really admired Mills Lane. He gave commands in the ring with great authority. Mills and Steve were not big referees (physically) like myself but controlled fights they worked with great ability.
Who has been your most important influence in boxing? Please give details.
The biggest influence is Jack Reiss, who I talk to on a regular basis. He sent me a message after the (Tszyu v Harrison) fight. Jack has mentored me and taught me personally. I am very thankful to him. I admire Jack. He is not selfish to share his knowledge. I consider him a very good friend. Every time I go to California I visit Jack and on one occasion my wife and myself had dinner with Jack and his wife. We watched a movie together in Los Angeles. That’s why I can say we are really good friends.
Do you work for the IBF, WBC, WBA, WBO and attend their conventions? Did you conduct seminars at any conventions?
I am a proud member of the IBF and WBO mainly and on a few occasions I did regional WBA and WBC fights. I attended a WBA convention in Colombia in 2017. I conduct seminars not only with the WBO but also all over the Philippines. I go to the Islands and the provinces to teach referees outside the nation’s capital. I go to Mindanao also. I have done seminars in China and Dubai. During the pandemic, I had the opportunity to do a video conference to Afghanistan. I was in the Philippines. It was very interesting. When I go to a country where there is no established boxing commission, for example like Dubai, China, Singapore and India – I do seminars.
I come from a family of teachers. My mum and dad were both professors. I have two sisters who are also professors. My dad passed away in 1997 but my mum is still working as a professor at 82 years of age.
Future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao is still boxing in exhibition bouts around the world. Have you worked any of his fights?
I do not talk to him directly but we are grateful for how he gave publicity to boxing in the Philippines. I give credit to Manny Pacquiao for helping my career indirectly. Because of Manny’s popularity, people became more interested in boxing. He gave me many opportunities because activity increased during the time he boxed. From 2009 until the time Manny boxed Ugas, I was always part of the television broadcasting team in the Philippines doing Manny Pacquiao fights.
You are one of Manila’s leading lawyers. How long have you been practicing as a lawyer?
I became a lawyer in 2004 and when I started I was an associate lawyer with a private law firm. I was working on criminal cases and family law cases. Two years after passing the Bar, I was given the opportunity to be a professor in the college of law in one of the universities. I was a professor in criminal law and civil law. At this time most of my clients are government officials like congressmen etc. That is the bulk of my work.
Tell me about your family?
I met my wife in 2007 when I was working with the House of Representatives. She was working there with some congressman and we met and now we are married with two kids since 2009. My children are nine and ten years of age.
Have you got a message to the readers of Fightnews.com®?
The first time I was on the internet in 2003 and one of the first boxing websites I visited was Fightnews.com®. I have been a loyal follower for ten years. I want to congratulate Fightnews.com® for having great content. It is unique content because the articles are factual and everything is brief. You first interviewed me in Auckland, New Zealand for Fightnews.com® a few years back. I had a problem with my voice that time. Thank you Fightnews.com®.
— No, Referee Tapdasan should’ve stopped the fight after the extraordinarily game Harrison collapsed in a pulped heap after a horrific beatdown sequence.
Thankfully, he finally stopped the fight just before letting it start up again, a potential tragedy averted.
With the drama of a Big Fight what with all the fans screaming, it can be very difficult for a Ref to maintain composure, so I’m not cracking on the ref in a mean spirited way, but rather stating the obvious of when the fight needed to be stopped for future references.
Congrats to the fighters for a great fight, so hands up and protect yourselves at all times and take care…
Great post Bobby Mac. I was asking myself, why the referee didn’t stop the fight when Harrison turned his head on top of the ropes? he was completely defenseless
I think Danrex Tapdasan is telling tales. He’s not a big fan here. Ive never seen him in the comments. jk, very nice interview with good questions and answers.
Probably should have been stopped sooner but everyone would have complained but it what it is.