San Antonio referee Rafael Ramos says being assigned to work Saturday's Manny Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey pay-per-view fight at Cowboys Stadium is the highlight of his career.
Yet Ramos knows if he's doing his job properly, no one will know he's there.
“Fans don't pay to see me,” he said.
It's a philosophy all officials acknowledge but not all of them embrace. Some like to put their imprint on a bout when it's not warranted, irritating fighters and fans alike.
Ramos doesn't do that, which is a major reason the 53-year-old native of Puerto Rico has become one of the top ring officials not only in the nation, but also the world.
One of his biggest fans is veteran matchmaker Wayne Harrison of Fort Worth.
“He's a world-class referee,” Harrison said. “He knows what it means to be neutral, when to step in and when not to. He does a very professional job.”
Ramos was not the first choice for Saturday's main event. The World Boxing Organization, the sanctioning body whose title belt will be at stake, wanted Laurence Cole as referee.
But William Kuntz, executive director for the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, which oversees boxing in the state, reportedly overruled and assigned the fight to Ramos.
That probably was a good move. While Cole also is a top referee, he carries some baggage. He's been involved in a couple of controversial, high-profile fights, including one in 2006 that resulted in a fine and suspension for Cole.
To boot, Cole is the son of longtime state boxing coordinator Dickie Cole, so with eyes of the boxing world focused on Arlington on Saturday, Kuntz no doubt wanted the attention on the fight and not the choice of referee.
Ramos says he's looking forward to the big event. A crowd of more than 40,000 is expected.
“Manny Pacquiao is the No. 1 fighter in the world,” he said. “Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys. That alone is reason to be excited.”
Ramos is no stranger to the big stage.
Since his first pro bout in 1987 in Toscana, Italy, Ramos has refereed more than 300 fights and 50 world title fights, in places such as Japan (20 times), Korea, Thailand, France, Germany, Spain and Panama.
Prior to Saturday, his biggest assignment came Feb. 28, 2009, when he refereed the Juan Diaz-Juan Manuel Marquez world title fight in Houston in what was considered by many as the fight of the year.
Ramos was praised for his work in the fight.
“You have to be honest with yourself and the fighter,” Ramos said. “You have to allow the fighters to fight as long as they stay within the rules. And you have to be consistent.”
Morales on card: One San Antonio fighter is scheduled to appear on Saturday's non-televised undercard.
Joe Morales (20-13, 4 KOs), who trains under Tony Ayala Sr. at Zarzamora Street Gym, is set to take on Michael Farenas (26-2-3, 23 KOs), a southpaw from the Philippines, in an eight-round featherweight matchup.
“This is a great opportunity,” said Morales, 35, who will earn $6,000 for the fight. “I can say I was one of the first ones to fight at Cowboys Stadium.”
Morales' record is nothing to write home about, but he has fought tough competition that includes Joel Casamayor, Zahir Raheem, Rocky Juarez and Joan Guzman.
Morales is coming off a win Nov. 6 in Laredo when he beat Idelfonso Martinez in a 10-round decision.
Author: John Whisler