By Zach Arnold | May 9, 2015
Texas has great boxing fans and the worst commission in the country. Cole nearly took a point when boxers hugged to start round 12 #PBConCBS
— Jonathan Snowden (@mmaencyclopedia) May 9, 2015
On Friday, Bill Brady resigned from the Nevada State Athletic Commission board. As bad as athletic commissions like Texas and New York have been, I gave them slight praise for turning things around.
And then Saturday afternoon’s Al Haymon card in Hidalgo, Texas reasserted Texas as the worst major athletic commission in the United States.
On paper, a middle-of-the-road main event featuring Omar Figueroa Jr. and Ricky Burns turned into a nice little fight that was dominated & marred by the discretionary & unjustifiably risky antics of long-time referee Laurence Cole.
Laurence Cole is one of the worst referees I've seen in more than 40 years on the boxing beat. But you already knew that, didn't you.
— Nigel Collins (@ESPNFNF) May 9, 2015
Ricky Burns had a clear strategy — smother Figueroa and make him fight out of the proverbial phone booth. Figueroa drove his head into Burns, which made him more vulnerable to getting hit in the back of the head. Coles repeatedly warned Burns for punching Figueroa in the back of the head.
It’s one thing to warn a fighter. It’s another to physically alter his behavior and place the fighter in a precarious position. During multiple active clinches between Figueroa & Burns, Cole physically yanked one of the arms of Ricky Burns. Not only did he repeatedly yank one of Burns’ arms, he did so without separating the two fighters. He yanked a fighter’s arm while during active punching. It was incredibly disruptive & dangerous. Burns could have gotten seriously injured. Much credit should be given to the CBS announcing team led by Mauro Ranallo in calling out Cole for his in-ring behavior.
Referees instruct fighters before bouts to protect themselves at all times. How can a fighter protect himself at all times when the referee is repeatedly yanking on one of his arms during live action?
The good news is that Cole didn’t work the bigger fight in Texas on Saturday night, which was Canelo Alvarez demolishing James Kirkland. However, Cole was assigned a main event on an Al Haymon CBS show for a fight that impacted two men at different points in their careers.
For many years, Cole’s father Dickie ran the athletic commission under the Department of Licensing & Regulation umbrella. Not only did Laurence Cole get top referee bookings, he also actively sold & continues to sell event insurance policies to promoters running boxing, kickboxing, and MMA events in the state of Texas.
Laurence Cole Insurance Agency at BoxingCoverage.com. Cole is listed on the Farmers website as an insurance agent in Dallas.
If the athletic commission in Texas wants to demonstrate that they are serious about cleaning up the mess that Dickie Cole made, they would call a board meeting to start the process of stripping Laurence Cole of his referee license. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it. His in-ring actions on Saturday afternoon in Hidalgo, Texas could have potentially led to an injury and a fat lawsuit against the state of Texas.