In a piece focusing on referee Joe Cortez by Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times, the veteran, highly (and consistently) criticized official had this to say about his performance in the controversial Mayweather vs Ortiz fight from Saturday night:
“I made the signal,” he said. “You don’t have to say anything. These guys know the rules.”
… “Victor made two mistakes,” Cortez said. “His first one was being a bad boy, and his second one was being too much of a good boy.”
I think most would prefer Cortez not describe Victor Ortiz as a “bad boy” or a “good boy” because it’s just a little bit unsettling.
So this makes him even more to blame, I think. It’s not whether or not you have to say anything, it’s that usually someone does. There are a lot of things you don’t have to do, and you can skirt by at your job and go unnoticed and who really cares, you’re just a guy at work.
But Joe Cortez was given the highest-profile assignment that there is to give in professional boxing, a Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao fight. This wasn’t the time to do the bare minimum, and I think those familiar with Cortez’s recent performances largely agree that he’s just not a good referee anymore.
Cortez has trademarked that “I’m fair but I’m firm!” catchphrase, which is cute. But he should stop saying it. He might be fair (at least by intention), but he’s far from firm, and his days as a working referee would be numbered if anyone who mattered were up to admitting that their officials have been bad for any length of time, but expect nothing to come of this, since he was, technically, legally, perfectly OK. If an upside of “average” is good enough, then sure, keep giving him the fights. But he’s proven time and again when he has to make a quick decision, he’s not up to par, and while he wasn’t wrong in this case, he still wasn’t good enough.