By Thomas Hauser

Amir Khan vs. Marcos Maidana was a scintillating fight.  Khan has a world of talent, and Maidana fights like an Argentinean Arturo Gatti.  Unfortunately, referee Joe Cortrez was overly involved in the action.

This isn’t the first time that Cortez has forced his imprint on a high-profile bout.  When Floyd Mayweather Jr and Ricky Hatton met in December 2007, Hatton would work his way inside; Mayweather tried to tie him up; and Cortez broke them apart even though Ricky was still punching.  By his conduct of the fight, Cortez denied Hatton the chance to impose his physical strength and forced him to fight much of the battle at long range, where Ricky was at a decided disadvantage.

History repeated itself in Khan-Maidana.  There were no clinches in round one.  But as the fight progressed, it was clear that Maidana wanted to fight inside and Khan didn’t.  Whenever Marcos got inside, Amir tried to tie him up by holding on to his right arm.  When that happened, Maidana would pump left hooks to Khan’s body and head.  Instead of doing nothing or saying “punch your way out,” Cortez broke the fighters.

Over the course of the fight, Cortez broke the fighters prematurely on THIRTY-SIX occasions.

On one of these premature breaks in round five, the referee spun Maidana around.  Marcos’s right elbow brushed against Cortez’s chest, and he deducted a point from the fighter.  That brought back memories of round six in Mayweather-Hatton, when Cortez took a point away from Hatton under odd circumstances.

Also, throughout Khan-Maidana whenever Maidana got inside, Khan would push down hard on the back of Marcos’s head and neck.  Cortez never did anything more than warn him.  After round six, Miguel Diaz (Maidana’s chief second) shouted at the referee, “You take a point on us.  Take a point on him, please.”  But it was to no avail.

Given the way the action unfolded, the narrow verdict in Khan’s favor was justified.  But with a different referee, Maidana might have won the fight.

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at . His most recent book (“Waiting For Carver Boyd”) was published by JR Books and can be purchased at or

Hauser says that Waiting for Carver Boyd is “the best pure boxing writing I’ve ever done.”