In a year littered with horrible scorecards, Terry O’Connor managed to stand out from the pack.
This time, the veteran ring official could very well be forced to explain his actions—though not entirely limited to his poor night of scoring from ringside.
O’Connor landed in controversy on Saturday, making the news for all of the wrong reasons given his work in two bouts on a Sky Sports show from Peterborough, England. The 67-year old referee and judge was the lone official to score in favor of Thomas Patrick Ward in a technical split draw with Thomas Essomba, who deserved the win in the eyes of most viewers.
It was O’Connor’s work in the evening’s main event, though, which warrants further explanation.
Former lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez appeared do more than enough to pull off an upset win over Lewis Ritson (21-1, 12KOs) in their regional title fight. O’Connor and Michael Alexander were two of the few who felt different, with both judges awarding the bout in favor of Ritson in a split decision hailed by most observers as the worst robbery of 2020—which is saying a lot given the incompetence exuded by ringside officials particularly since the pandemic.
Judge Marcus McDonnell turned in the dissenting card, ruling the contest 116/113 in favor of Vazquez (42-10, 16KOs)—in line with most observers, including event promoter Eddie Hearn who promotes Ritson. Alexander's cars of 115-113 went the other way while O’Connor somehow came up with a score of 117-111 for Ritson in a verdict which is baffling beyond explanation.
One however, is very much in need.
117-111 to Ritson was a disgrace of a card.” Hearn insisted during a post-fight interview with IFL TV. “And it's terrible for the sport… People have gotta be accountable for bad decisions.
“If you're in a job and you don't perform well, then you've gotta face the consequences.”
Making the round after the photo was a still shot of O’Connor appearing to be on his phone during the 8th round of the 12-round main event. The sequence did not go unnoticed by significant players in the industry.
“This image is extremely troubling to any person involved in boxing,” Mauricio Sulaiman, president of the WBC (not involved in Saturday’s fight) tweeted in response to the disgraceful ringside act.
Indications are that the matter is being looked into by the British Boxing Board of Control, which oversees all events in the United Kingdom.
“If that’s a phone—and I presume it is—then then BBBofC should immediately remove him,” noted Hearn.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox