Referee Tony Weeks gave Rolando Romero a gift on Saturday with inexplicably poor officiating in the ninth round of Romero’s WBA super lightweight title fight against Ismael Barroso at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.
With Barroso leading the cards of all three judges at the end of eight rounds – Tim Cheatham had 76-75, David Sutherland had 77-74 and Steve Weisfeld had 78-73 – The weeks made two critical errors in the ninth .
The first one doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things because of the second flaw. But Romero hurt Barroso early in the ninth and as he was on his way to the finish, he pushed Barroso to the canvas. It was clear that Barroso went down not because of the force of the punch, but because Romero threw him, but Weeks called it a knockdown.
That might have been a factor if not for Weeks’ second mistake.
Romero lands a right hand and Barroso backs into the corner. Romero threw a few punches, most of which were avoided by Barroso, when Weeks jumped in and stopped them at 2:41.
The only punch in that corner sequence that landed was the one thrown by Barroso, but Weeks apparently didn’t see it. The stoppage made Romero a world champion, even though there are few people on the planet outside of his closest family members who would consider him a champion.
The 40-year-old Barroso, who was clearly tired, scored a knockdown on Romero in the third. It was usually a close fight with little of substance or sustained action, but Barroso did what he had to do to win. He dismissed Romero, 57-40, according to Showtime, and he still threw punches, 297-230.
Predictably, he was confused and angered by the referee’s intervention.
“I’m fine,” said Barroso. “I think it’s an injustice to stop this fight. I gave my best shots.”
The WBA championships have a very low value because of the way the WBA has managed it over the years, giving away too much of a class, putting up fights between unworthy opponents and more. But the only way Romero’s new belt will mean anything is if the sanctioning body forces a rematch. It wasn’t a good fight, so the promoters probably won’t be excited to wear it again, but it’s the only fair way to recover. And if Romero refuses the rematch, he should be stripped.
I have known Tony Weeks for at least 20 years and I know him to be a decent, honorable man who I trust with anything I care about. Weeks has long been a quality referee and it was his work in 2005 that allowed the late, great Diego Corrales to continue fighting after Jose Luis Castillo dropped him in the 10th round of their epic fight in Las Vegas. is praised by many.
Weeks deserved every bit of praise he got that night and he worked a near perfect fight.
Also, he deserves every bit of taunting he’s received this time after he actually handed Romero a world title. This is as bad as it gets.