Forgotten Legends: Mitch Halpern

By: Steve Gallegos

In this segment of Forgotten Legends, we’re gonna switch gears and focus not on a fighter, but on a referee. The life of a boxing referee can be a difficult one. The “3rd Man” inside the ring is criticized regularly for his actions in a very brutal sport. The sole purpose of the referee is to protect the fighters and most times, the lives of the combatants rests solely in the hands of the referee.

The state of Nevada has been known to produce the best boxing referees in the world, most notably Mills Lane, Richard Steele and Joe Cortez. In the mid-late 90’s there was another referee that was on his way to joining that elite class. His name was Mitch Halpern.

Halpern was a hard nosed, no nonsense referee who refereed some of the biggest bouts in Nevada during the end of the 20th Century. He was known to maintain order while letting the boxers fight their fights. Mitch Halpern began refereeing bouts in 1991. He was mentored by the legendary Nevada referee Richard Steele, who taught Halpern everything there was to know about being a boxing referee.

On 05/06/95, Halpern would referee a bout between Gabriel Ruelas and Jimmy Garcia. It was the co-feature on a big Pay Per View card held at the outdoor arena at Ceasar’s Palace in Las Vegas. It was a fight in which Garcia absorbed alot of punishment over the course of 11 rounds, before Halpern stopped the fight. Moments later, Garcia collapsed in his corner and was taken to the hospital, where he would later die due to injuries sustained in the bout.

It was a tragic event on a big stage and many in the boxing media criticized Mitch Halpern for Garcia’s death. This didn’t stop Mitch from refereeing and he continued on with his career.

On 11/09/97, Halpern would referee the biggest fight of his career, which was the first bout between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield. It was a tough, physical fight which included a lot of clinching, holding and hitting on the breaks. Halpern had to call time several times to warn the fighters and he did so in a very authoritive way.

Near the end of the 10th, Holyfield caught Tyson flush and put a pounding on him. Halpern almost stepped in to stop the fight, however he let the round come to a close. He would then stop the fight in the 11th after Holyfield again battered Tyson.
Halpern was chosen to work the Holyfield Tyson rematch seven months later, however the Tyson camp hotly contested Mitch Halpern being the referee; therefore Halpern stepped down and was replaced by Mills Lane.

Tyson would be disqualified in the third round after he bit Holyfield twice on his ears. Had Mitch Halpern been the referee, Tyson wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to bite Holyfield a second time. Halpern would have disqualified Tyson immediately.

Halpern would close out 1997 by refereeing the next two mega bouts in Las Vegas when he worked the highly anticipated showdown between Johnny Tapia and Danny Romero as well as the Heavyweight Championship unificiation bout between Evander Holyfield and Michael Moorer. Halpern would close out the millenium by working the last two mega bouts of the 1990’s when he refereed Oscar De La Hoya vs Felix Trinidad as well as the second bout between Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis, which crowned the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the world. Halpern would start the new millenium by working another highly anticipated bout when he refereed the first bout between Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera which was an all out war.

Mitch Halpern was at the top of his game and was considered the best referee in Nevada; however it was all about to come to a tragic end. On 08/20/00, Mitch Halpern was found dead from to a gunshot wound to the head, that was ruled a suicide. It was a huge loss and many within the boxing community that were close to Halpern were shocked as he appeared to be very cool and collect.

On 08/26/00, an HBO Boxing After Dark card was held at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. All the referee’s working, wore a patch on there sleeve in honor of Mitch Halpern. The main event was a heated battle between Fernando Vargas and Ross Thompson, which was refereed by Joe Cortez. During the pre fight instructions, Cortez said “This one’s for Mitch. Mitch, we love you, we miss you”.

Mitch Halpern was a special referee, who didn’t put up with any nonsense from any fighter, regardless of who they were. As I stated earlier, the life of a boxing referee can be a diffictult one. Did the pressures of being a boxing referee get to Mitch Halpern? In the end he was a very good referee who was on his way to greatness, only to have his life ended too soon.

Forgotten Legends: Paul Ingle

By: Steve Gallegos

The British boxing scene is amongst the most exciting scenes for boxing in the world. The fans pack arenas and cheer for their fighter in soccer style, commentators are the funnest to listen to and the ring entrances are a dazzling display of smoke and lights. Some very colorful and exciting fighters have come out of the british Boxing scene. Fighters like Lennox Lewis, Herbie Hide, “Prince” Naseem Hamed, and Ricky Hatton. There was another colorful, exciting fighter who was at the top of his game, only to have it all taken away from him in one night. That fighter was former featherweight champion PaulThe Yorkshire HunterIngle.

Ingle was a hard-nose, come forward fighter who brought excitement anytime he was in the ring.  Ingle who hailed from Scarborough, North Yorkshire England began boxing at age nine and had a very good amateur career in which he represented Great Britain in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. He turned pro in March of 1994, scoring a third round knockout in his pro debut. He would go 21-0 with 11 KO’s from 1994-1998 while claiming the British, Commonwealth and European featherweight titles.

He had an unorthodox style of living  while preparing for his fights. He would go camping out on the moors in which he would live off of the land and jump into the icy could cold waters. He would get his first crack at a world title in 1999 when he met the kingpin of the featherweight division, “Prince” Naseem Hamed. They met on 04/10/99 in front of a huge, electric crowd at the Manchester Evening News arena in Manchester, England. Hamed, who was used to knocking out his opponents in rather easy fashion, found Ingle to be one tough cookie.

Hamed would put Igle down in the first round with a straight left hand and Ingle was immediately up. He continued pressing forward, holding his own with “Naz” while fighting at a very fast, aggressive pace. In the sixth round, Hamed would put Ingle down again with a hard left hand to the body. Most fighters would not have recovered from that shot; however Ingle did as he once again rose to his feet. Hamed was starting to get frustrated and winded, most likely wondering what was keeping Ingle up. The ninth and tenth rounds were Ingle’s best as finally got to “Naz”, landing hard shots while busting up Hamed’s face. Going into the championship rounds, the momentum belonged to Ingle; however in the 11th, Hamed would land a huge straight left hand that put Ingle down again. He was able to get to his feet; however referee Joe Cortez wisely stopped the bout and Hamed was relieved that the fight was finally over.

After giving “Prince” Naseem Hamed the toughest test of his career, Ingle was back in line for another title shot seven months later when he faced IBF featherweight champion Manuel Medina. They met on 11/13/99 in Ingle’s backyard of Cottingham, Hull, Yorkshire in the United Kingdom. Ingle performed spectacularly throughout the bout as he put Medina down twice in the second round and again in the 10th. Medina was able to put Ingle down in the 12th round; however Ingle was able to get up and survive the round. The final result was a 12 round unanimous decision for Ingle. He was now a world champion.

He would make the first defense of his featherweight championship five months later as he faced former two-time champion Junior Jones. The met on 04/29/00 at the Legendary “Mecca” of boxing, Madison Square Garden. It was the co-feature for Lennox Lewis’ Heavyweight title defense against Michael Grant. It was a good exciting fight for the most part. Jones, a masterful boxer, was vunerable when getting into a fire fight and Ingle was slowly luring Jones into fighting his fight. One aspect of Ingle’s game that was underrated was his head movement, which caused Jones to miss a lot of shots early on, providing Ingle with many opportunties for left hand counters.

In the ninth round, Jones landed a hard right hand that put Ingle down. Ingle once again showed his championship heart by getting up and weathering a huge rally by Jones while regaining the momentum towards the end of the round. Ingle was confident he could wear Jones down and stop him and his game plan was spot on. Towards the end of the tenth round, Ingle rocked Jones badly and was a punch or two away from putting Jones down. Ingle, as he did against Hamed, had the momentum in his favor going into the championship rounds.

In the 11th, Ingle picked up right where he left off in the 10th and rocked Jones, sending him reeling against the ropes, causing referee Steve Smoger to give Jones a count as only the ropes held him up. Ingle continued the onslaught, causing Smoger to step in moments later to stop the fight. It was the biggest win of Paul Ingle’s career and on the biggest stage; however his career was about to come to a screeching hault.

Ingle defended his title eight months later against South African Mbulelo Botile in Sheffield, England. Ingle was dropped in the 11th and again in the 12th, causing the fight to be stopped. Ingle did not get up off the canvas and had to be taken out on a stretcher. He was taken to the hospital in which surgery had to be performed to remove a blood clot from his brain. It was the end of Paul Ingle’s boxing career and he retired with a record of 23-2 with 12 KO’s. It was another of many great careers that were ended too soon.

Ingle has recovered well from his injury; however there are long lasting effects stemming from his brain injury. He isn’t able to work or drive and he receives disability benefits. Today, Ingle battles depression as he copes with life without boxing. In a 2013 interview with Hull Daily Mail, he states “I still miss boxing 110 percent. I can’t even begin to say how much I miss it”. A boxing charity has been setup called Blue Glove Foundation which held a dinner in May of 2013 in which all the proceeds went to Ingle. A new boxing gym called the “Paul Ingle Boxing Academy” was also setup in his honor in his hometown of Hull in the the UK. It’s very sad how Paul Ingle’s promising career was ended. We definitely wish him the best and hope that he can conquer his depression and return to championship status, not in the ring; however in life.

Paul Ingle







Miguel Gonzalez Takes On Josenilson Dos Santos for July 26 ESPN Co-Feature

PHILADELPHIA (JULY 9, 2013)—A action packed co-feature has been added to a great night of boxing scheduled for July 26 th at the Thunder Valley Casino & Resort in Sacramento, California as part of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights.

In the exciting co-feature, it will be a ten round Lightweight bout for the WBO Latino Super Featherweight title as Miguel Gonzalez battles Josenilson Dos Santos.

The fights are promoted by Banner Promotions & Thompson Boxing.

Gonzalez of Cleveland, Ohio has a record 21-3 with fifteen knockouts. The twenty-seven year old Gonzalez is a rising prospect as he continues to step up the competition and has quality wins over the likes of Tyrone Harris (24-7) and Humberto Toledo (39-6). He is coming off his best victory to date when he scored a knockdown en route to a ten round unanimous decision over former WBA Lightweight champion Miguel Acosta on May 2 nd in Corona, California that was televised on a special edition of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights.

Dos Santos of San Paulo, Brazil has a glossy record of 26-1 with sixteen knockouts. He won the WBO Interim Latino Super Featherweight championship with a twelve round unanimous decision over Alejandro Ciacia on August 22 nd , 2008. Six months later he won the full title with a twelve round unanimous decision over undefeated David Pared. He made one defense with a fourth round knockout over Leandro Almagro. Dos Santos has won twelve in a row including recapturing the WBO Super Featherweight title in his last bout with a twelve round unanimous decision over Carlos Ricardo Rodriguez on May 4 th in San Paulo.

“This will be a great fight. Gonzalez is coming off an impressive win over a former world champion in Acosta. Dos Santos has a great record and I know he is motivated by seeing how impressive his stable mate Patrick Tiexiera was a couple weeks ago on ESPN.” said Banner Promotions CEO Arthur Pelullo.

“Add that to a great main event and we are very excited for the show on July 26 th .”

A full undercard will be announced shortly.

Special guests scheduled to be in attendance will be former world champions Tony “The Tiger” Lopez, Loreto Garza, James Toney and Hall of Fame referee Joe Cortez.