Eddie Hearn calls for Terry O'Connor to be removed as a judge following 'disgrace' in Ritson-Vazquez fight

Gareth A Davies
·3-min read
Eddie Hearn - Steven Paston/PA Wire
Eddie Hearn - Steven Paston/PA Wire

Eddie Hearn has called for British judge Terry O’Connor to be immediately removed from the British Boxing Board of Control panel after footage appeared to show the official on his phone during a bout on Saturday night.

Pictures showed O’Connor distracted while looking at his phone during the eighth round of the fight, after which Briton’s Lewis Ritson was awarded a controversial split-decision victory over Mexico’s Miguel Vazquez.

O’Connor scored the contest 117-111 in Ritson’s favour, meaning that he awarded the Newcastle fighter nine of the rounds. The two other judges scored the bout 116-113 to Vazquez, a former world champion, and 115-113 to Ritson.

It was suggested last night that O’Connor might have been holding a scoring device. Hearn, however, labelled his conduct “a disgrace” and even said that he thought Ritson, his own fighter, had lost the contest. “If that’s a phone (and I presume it is) then the BBBofC should immediately remove him,” Hearn wrote on social media.

Mauricio Sulaiman, president of the World Boxing Council, said it was “extremely troubling to any person involved in boxing”. Hearn added: “117-111 to Ritson was a disgrace of a [judging] card. And it’s terrible for the sport. People have got to be accountable for bad decisions. If you’re in a job and you don’t perform well, then you’ve got to face the consequences.’

Robert Smith, the BBBC’s general secretary, said it would launch an investigation. Smith said: “This has to be looked at and investigated and it will be. I am so frustrated that this seems to have happened. Personally, I am so disappointed.” O’Connor, 67, is one of the boxing board’s leading judges and an elite-level referee who has overseen 1,456 bouts, including many world title contests going back more than two decades. He was a professional heavyweight boxer between 1976 and 1983 with 43 fights, 20 of them defeats.

O’Connor was unavailable for comment last night. The boxing board does not allow its officials to make public statements. Vasyl Lomachenko suffered a shock unanimous points defeat and lost the undisputed lightweight crown to Teofimo Lopez behind closed doors in Las Vegas.

Lopez, the 3-1 underdog, dominated the first six rounds with clever movement, timing and aggressiveness. Lomachenko, unusually sluggish getting off his punches, came back impressively, but it was too little, too late. The Ukrainian, a double Olympic champion from the Beijing and London Games, suffered his first defeat after a six-year, 14-fight winning streak, and strongly disagreed with the decision. “In the second half of the fight, I took it over, and I was much better,” he said.

Promoter Bob Arum confirmed that the fight between Sheffield’s Kell Brook, the former International Boxing Federation welterweight champion who challenges Terence Crawford for the World Boxing Organisation welterweight title, scheduled for Nov 14, would be free-to-air in the USA. A UK broadcaster is to be confirmed.