A boxing referee has been accused of endangering the safety of a veteran fighter after making a controversial call in a super welterweight showdown.
Uzbekistan boxer Israil Madrimov secured a comprehensive victory over 37-year-old American veteran Eric Walker, but it was the actions of referee Gary Ritter that left many viewers outraged.
‘HOLY COW’: Paige VanZant bombshell stuns MMA world
‘FUTURE WIFE’: Conor McGregor's stunning relationship news
Madrimov looked to have wrapped up the victory in the ninth round of the fight when a vicious left hook sent his opponent crashing to the canvas.
Walker looked to be in a bad way as he lay sprawled on the canvas but the referee ruled that it wasn't a knock down.
The official ruled that it was the contact from Madrimov’s shoulder that caused Walker to hit the canvas, despite replays suggesting it was a solid left to the face that did the damage.
Madrimov drops Walker, but the referee rules no knockdown.— DAZN USA (@DAZN_USA) August 16, 2020
As such, Walker was told to get up by the referee and given more than a minute to recover despite complaining of dizziness.
Walker then suffered three more rounds of punishment from Madrimov, who won via a comfortable unanimous decision (116-110, 116-110, 116-111).
Combat reporter Chris Mannix was among those viewers furious with the referee's call that he said put Walker under unnecessary danger.
“Brutal referee call. Walker is basically out cold. Referee says it wasn’t a knockdown. Says Madrimov pushed him down. OK,” Mannix tweeted.
“Here’s the bigger problem with this call: Referee can see, even after the bad call, that Walker is knocked out. So he lets him lie on the ground for a minute … then tells him he has five to recover. Dangerous.
“Eric Walker was brave, took an enormous amount of punishment. But he should have been knocked out in the ninth round and then the referee and his corner let him take an absolute beating over the last three. That’s how guys get hurt.
“I can’t get past what I saw in Walker-Madrimov. Boxing was rocked by several in-ring deaths in 2019. A referee let a fight continue after a fighter, Eric Walker, was knocked out. Walker’s corner let it continue. Then he took a brutal beating. We learn nothing. Nothing.”
Referee slammed for allowing Walker to fight on
The referee keeps saying that Madrimov hit Walker with his shoulder and it's clear that Madrimov's shoulder wasn't even close to him. SMH.— Andreas Hale (@AndreasHale) August 16, 2020
The shoulder push helps him on his way over. But that’s a clean ko . The ref has had a nightmare there.— Andrew Langstaff (@itslangy) August 16, 2020
When he saw that the guy couldn't get up he should have just called the fight straight away instead of just standing dithering and looking silly.— Craig Morris (@craigsmorris1) August 16, 2020
Shocking!! You have 1 job... watch the 2 fighters. If you can’t see a left hook that he practically threw from across the ring then your in the wrong profession. Strip him!— alex knowler (@AKnowler) August 16, 2020
He was gone off the left hook! On the floor for longer than 10 seconds, he was ko'ed, if the ref would've bothered to check him out & look in his eyes he was gone, wasn't getting up in a hurry! 🥊— Gary Wherton (@Thesandwellstud) August 16, 2020
Stone cold KO & should’ve been called as such. What happened after was dangerous however and the ref is solely responsible. Fight should have been over.— . (@boxing____) August 16, 2020
Walker's promoter Lou DiBella, who couldn't attend the fight due to COVID-19 restrictions, insisted his man shouldn't have been allowed to continue fighting when he was in obvious trouble.
“I don’t care what caused it or what the reason was,” DiBella said.
“I’m not willing to crucify a referee for an angle he didn’t see. But at that moment, the fight shouldn’t have continued.
"Go to the scorecards. Don’t take a break if the guy is concussed. It was a very dangerous mistake. The fight should not have gone on from that point.
“I would have gone to his corner and said I think you should throw the towel in.
“Or we would have gone to the commission table and said go to the scorecards. There were a lot of mistakes.”