Preventing Tragedy in The Main Event, A Ringside Perspective

Editorial By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent

 There are times as a sports reporter at ringside when the ordinary becomes extraordinary, and the referee in the main event has to make an immediate life and death decision to prevent a tragedy or possible tragedy. Such was the case in the final bout of the evening on Saturday night, March 5, 2022, at Dearborn Community and Performing Arts Center in the third round of the final bout of the night, a scheduled eight rounder between two heavyweight prospects with solid winning records.

 Heavyweights Moses Johnson and Robert Simms battled to a controversial draw after an accidental odd foul. The first two rounds did not appear to be eventful. The 8-0 favored heavyweight prospect Johnson and his 11-3 challenger Robert Simms battled evenly for two rounds. This occurred despite Simms appearing overweight. Simms moved around the ring well despite his girth, and both fighters boxed carefully and evenly.

 Things changed in the third round. Simms pushed the gas pedal, and appeared to be winning the round, and moving to win the point on punches thrown, landed and on aggression. Both heavyweights began punching at each other wildly in center ring. Moses Johnson threw an overhand right as Simms turned after dodging a blow during a wild exchange of blows between the two combatants, and Simms was accidentally hit behind the head. The punch by Johnson was in motion before Simms turned his head during the wild exchange. so when the punch by Johnson in motion hit Simms in the back of the head it was accidental.

 The Johnson corner maintained they had the punch on personal video, that Moses Johnson threw a legitimate punch and Simms turned his head, so they should get the win. The key concept to the accidental foul is the punch thrown and landed by Johnson, and the turning of Simms’ head during a heat exchange came during legitimate punching by both competitors. Both where the punch landed by Johnson, and the turning of the head by Simms were both unintentional. The odd end to the bout simply occurred that way accidentally and coincidentally.

 Simms went down to the canvas near the bottom rope at 31 seconds of the third round, holding the back of his head. The timekeeper continued a count to the full ten count. However, referee Gerard White did not declare a knockdown. The clock was stopped. Simms held the back of his head, dazed, then evolved into laying face up flat on the canvas for several minutes in a fog. Two ringside doctors carefully examined Simms’ vision by opening his closed eyelids. Eventually, Simms recovered slowly but surely, and most fortunate for him. The doctors were eventually able to recover and improve Simms under observation well enough to sit on a stool. Clearly Simms was not well enough to continue the bout, as his eyes and face were clearly in a state of fear, but not quite shock. Referee Gerard White went with the existing and established Michigan rules and declared a technical draw, as the bout had not gone four full rounds for a ruling to have taken the bout to the scorecards, as three rounds had not officially been completed.

 Simms, despite appearing grossly overweight, was winning round three and the bout at the time the unintentional accidental foul punch to the back of the head occurred. Simms, hailing from Saginaw, Michigan, is now 11-3-1 with three knockouts. Johnson is now 8-0-1 with seven knockouts, Huntington, Long Island, New York.

 There are those who will say it was a legitimate punch. There are those who will say it was a clear foul and violation of the rules. There are always different viewpoints. When dealing with heavyweights, caution needs to especially be the top priority. Fortunately, in this particular bout, nobody was seriously injured, and referee Gerard White did a fine and expert job by getting medical attention to the downed fighter within seconds.

 Experience is a hard way to learn, and the moral of the story is: tragedy inside the ring can be prevented by letting the principals do their jobs. With the referee, ringside doctors, and emergency medical personnel in place, the system works at the highest level of professionalism and sporting event support for any amateur or professional sport. This reporter’s pictures do tell a story of what happened, and how it played out. With all of the proper people in their proper places in position when something did go wrong, a major tragedy was averted, and the ending was at least one we all could learn from. Robert Simms has his health, and will live to see another day. In the end, that’s all that matters.