We’ve all heard the expression, “The third man in the ring”. Man people who don’t follow boxing don’t realize how important that third man is. When I saw Arthur Mercante Jr. step into the ring and saw that black arm band, it really got to me. His dad, Arthur Mercante Sr., went to school with my father and I met Sr. 40 years ago. There is no doubt in anyones mind that he was the greatest boxing referee of all times. He was the class act, nobody better. When Arthur Mercante Jr. took charge of the Cotto- Foreman fight, it was amazing. He never let the control slip away from himself. Like his father before him, he handled himself properly, like a gentleman, and with the power of his convictions. There was no doubt in my mind that Arthur Sr. was looking down with a gigantic smile on his face and was so proud of his son. I take my barret off to both of them.
I think the first time I heard the words Arthur Mercante, my dad was telling me a story about Arthur’s volunteering and helping out with the PAL back in the day. The first time I remember seeing him was at the Floyd Patterson and Ingemar Johansson fight. There is no way in the world I would call Arthur a dear friend of mine but what I can say is that he was an extremely special person. He was a true gentleman- never heard a bad word out of his mouth and never heard a bad word about him. He’s one of the few referees that his honesty and sincerity were never in question. He had a love affair with boxing and he always made sure he took care of the boxer to minimize any possible damage. Even though we didn’t talk very often, there would always be a little smile of acknowledgment. I guess I should say that the boxing world has lost a great statesman, but what I would rather say that the world has lost one beautiful gentleman.