What Counts for a 10 Count?
Lubin-Arias KO Controversy Begs the Question of What a True Count-Out Actually Involves and/or Requires
This past weekend, super-welterweight contender Erickson (The Hammer) Lubin returned to action after 14 months out of the ring against Luis (Cuba) Arias on Showtime at the Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Lubin’s otherwise solid return to the ring was marred by controversy when the referee counted out Arias following a fifth-round knockdown even though he appeared to be on his feet, and otherwise ready to continue, by the count of 10. The stoppage is just the latest in a long history of suspect count-outs which beg the question, what counts for a 10 count? A quick look at the rules and regulations as to this question in the New York Tri-State area follows, as does an analysis of whether there was truly anything controversial about the end of Lubin’s comeback bout.
In New York, “[w]hen a boxer falls to the floor of the ring during the progress of a round, the timekeeper or alternate referee shall immediately begin the official count and shall continue to the count of 10 at the rate of one stroke per second, unless the referee shall direct that the count be suspended.” Additionally, New York recognizes that “the referee shall have the exclusive authority to decide whether or not a boxer is knocked down during the course of a round and shall indicate such decision to the timekeeper or alternate referee whose count shall be accordingly continued or discontinued, and, if the count is to be continued, the referee shall pick it up orally and by gesture after first assuring that the opponent of the fallen participant shall have retreated to the most distant neutral corner of the ring.” It thus appears that the referee’s count is not the “official count.” Instead, the “official count” is determined by the timekeeper or alternative referee from the time that a boxer “falls to the floor of the ring” to the time the count is communicated to the referee once the other boxer is in the appropriate neutral corner. The question could be thus be raised of whether a downed boxer in New York could theoretically be counted out by a timekeeper or alternate referee that he cannot hear while the in-ring referee spends a majority of the 10-count getting the other boxer to the farthest neutral corner.
New Jersey provides that:
“(a) When a contestant is knocked down the referee shall order the opponent to retire to the farthest neutral corner of the ring, pointing to the corner, and immediately begin the count over the boxer who is down.
“(b) He shall audibly announce the passing of the seconds, accompanying the count with motions of his arm, the downward motion indicating the end of each second.
“(c) Any contestant who is knocked down shall not be allowed to resume boxing until after the referee has finished counting eight.
“(d) The contestant may take this count either on the floor or standing if he has not been struck hard enough to keep him down.
“(e) Should the opponent fail to stay in the farthest corner, the referee may cease counting until he has returned to it, and then go with the count from the point which it was interrupted.”
Unlike in New York, New Jersey does not expressly provide for the referee to pick up the count from a timekeeper or alternate referee, but instead has the referee both order the other boxer to the farthest neutral corner and “immediately” begin the count upon a knockdown. New Jersey also reserves the possibility that, if an opponent fails to stay in the farthest neutral corner during the pendency of a knockdown, a referee may actually “cease counting until he has returned to it” and then continue thereafter. This would appear to make it possible, in the right circumstances, to have a boxer downed for more than 10 seconds without the bout being stopped if his opponent fails to stay put in the farthest neutral corner.
Connecticut directs that “[w]hen a knockdown occurs, the timekeeper shall at once commence calling off the seconds, indicating the count with an arm motion. The referee shall immediately order the other boxer to the furthest neutral corner and shall thereafter pick up the count from the timekeeper and indicate it with an arm motion. If the other boxer fails to go to or remain in the neutral corner as directed, the referee may stop the count and resume the count where the referee left off once the other boxer is in compliance.” Like New York, Connecticut provides for the timekeeper to immediately begin the count while the referee directs the other boxer to the furthest neutral corner. As with New Jersey, however, the referee may stop the stop the count in the event that the other boxer fails to either go to, or remain, in the neutral corner, which could likewise result in a downed boxer effectively having more than 10 seconds to make it to his or her feet in the right circumstances.
Was the Count Actually the Source of the Controversy in the Lubin-Arias Bout?
According to Boxrec.com, which is generally regarded as the primary recordkeeper for professional boxing, Lubin was deemed the winner by technical knockout. This suggests that, despite the verbalization of the 10 count while the referee waved off the bout, Arias was actually stopped at the referee’s discretion. Had the result been based on the referee reaching the count of 10 before Arias arose, the result would have theoretically been recorded as simply a knockout, as there is nothing technical about, and no discretion involved with, a knockout when a referee reaches the count of 10. In sum, debate the result of Lubin-Arias as much as you like. But do not base any argument exclusively on whether Arias could truly be deemed to have been down for a full 10 count. Since the result was labeled a technical knockout, it does not matter.
Please do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Paul S. Haberman LLC with questions on any legal, regulatory, or contractual issues that you may encounter in the combat sports world.
The information provided herein does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice on any subject matter. Articles may be considered attorney advertising. Any article or commentary posted herein does not constitute legal advice nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. Any prior results described within this website do not guarantee a similar outcome.