Vergil Ortiz Jr marked a triumphant return to the boxing ring, claiming a TKO-1 victory over Fredrick Lawson. But the focus after the match gravitated towards referee Tony Weeks, reigniting controversies over his stoppage decisions.
Weeks was criticised last year for his controversial stoppage call during the Rolando Romero vs Ismael Barroso bout. He now finds himself under intense scrutiny yet again, this time for his judgment during the recent match.
Upon reviewing the footage, it became evident that Weeks’ decision to halt the match at 2:33 of round one was considerably questionable. The televised angles failed to justify the necessity for such an early intervention by the referee.
Lawson (30-4, 22 KO) had endured some damage, albeit not to an extent that warranted a first-round stoppage. This was considering the level of follow-up strikes delivered by Ortiz (20-0, 20 KO).
VERGIL ORTIZ JR REMAINS UNDEFEATED.
Vergil Ortiz Jr stops Fredrick Lawson in the 1st round via TKO 💥
• 20 Fights ✍️
• 20 Wins ✅
• 20 Knockouts 🥊
— COMBAT SPORTS TODAY (@CSTodayNews) January 7, 2024
Expressing their dismay, Lawson and his team voiced clear opposition regarding the decision. DAZN commentator Gabriel Rosado echoed the sentiments of many boxing enthusiasts, criticizing Weeks for his premature intervention.
Although Weeks did not offer a direct statement on camera, interviewer Beto Duran relayed Weeks’ explanation. Weeks claimed he broke up the match after he saw Lawson rolling his eyes. And to be fair to Weeks, none but he alone was capable of seeing it.
Ortiz himself seemed content with the stoppage, attributing it to Lawson being in a compromised state due to his consistent jabs.
He said: “I think he got saved. I was hurting him with all the jabs. I wasn’t really putting anything behind it. But he was quickly calmed by Duran, promoter Oscar De La Hoya, and trainer Robert Garcia, who assured him nobody was booing him, just the decision from Weeks.”
Ortiz then promptly redirected his line of reasoning and proceeded to discuss the outcome.
He said: “You guys know what I’m about, I love to fight. I wish I could have kept going, I need the rounds, but hey, I was hurting him with the jab, I stunned him with the jab and I didn’t even land it that hard. I’m sorry. But I’m ready for anyone out there.”
Ortiz also called out Tim Tszyu respectfully without any trash talk. He said: “There’s a lot of fighters that I want to fight. I know people would love to see this fight, so Tim Tszyu, with all respect, I would love to fight you. I think you’re a hell of a fighter, and let’s make it happen. It’s all business. I’m a competitive person, I want to fight the best.”
Promoter Oscar De La Hoya did not confirm the possibility of Ortiz traveling to Australia for a potential showdown with Tszyu.