Hall of fame boxing referee, Joe Cortez, has an interesting job that has seen him return as the third man in the ring. Cortez, now 73, was hired to teach Conor McGregor the rules of the boxing ring and work as a referee during sparring sessions. Cortez officially retired as a referee back in 2012.
I recently had a chance to speak with Joe Cortez and get his thoughts on how he got a job working with Conor McGregor. Joe speaks on how Conor is doing with the boxing rules and shares his feelings on the McGregor vs. Mayweather fight. Additionally, Cortez talks about McGregor’s chances, gives his thoughts on Manny Pacquiao’s last fight and talks about Golovkin-Canelo. Here is what Joe Cortez had to say.
Robert Brown: You recently got a job working with Conor McGregor, can you tell us what your role entailed?
Joe Cortez: August 26th is going to be a big fight here in Las Vegas and the whole world is going to be watching it. It will be one of the biggest pay-per-views in the history of any sport and I’m glad to be part of it in the sense that I’m teaching McGregor how to fight boxing instead of MMA. I’m teaching him the boxing rules, I’m not teaching him to fight, just teaching him the rules. I was hired to teach him the unified rules to make sure he doesn’t commit any fouls. I don’t want to see him disqualified or have any point deductions during the fight.
Robert Brown: How is Conor adapting to the boxing rules so far?
Joe Cortez: He’s an excellent student, he’s learning real quick. Everything I’m teaching him, he’s learning. This is the biggest fight for him and these guys are making over 100 million dollars a piece. They better abide by the rules and listen to what I’m telling them because we want a good clean fight.
Robert Brown: What are your personal feelings on the fight? Do you think there’s any chance of this fight doing any damage to our sport?
Joe Cortez: I think it’s going to help both boxing and MMA because there’s so much attention around the world with this fight and I feel that it’s going to be good for boxing and MMA. I think it may be the beginning of something new with MMA fighters fighting boxers, it may be exciting and we may have more fights like that in the near future.
Robert Brown: Do you see McGregor being able to be competitive in this fight or is that too unrealistic?
Joe Cortez: I think McGregor brings a lot to the sport. He can punch, he’s a super champion in MMA, he has a lot of talent. Anybody that can punch can be dangerous.
Robert Brown: Do you think McGregor has a chance to win this fight?
Joe Cortez: If you have a punch, you have a chance too. Anybody that has a punch has a chance because anything is possible. You’ve seen some of the great champions get knocked out in boxing and it can happen because McGregor is a puncher. McGregor is quick with his punches, he hits hard, so anything is possible.
Robert Brown: What were your thoughts on Manny Pacquiao’s defeat to Jeff Horn?
Joe Cortez: I thought it was a good fight. Jeff Horn showed that he has the heart of a champion, he brought a lot of excitement and skill. Horn was very aggressive and he was not afraid of Manny Pacquiao. The fans felt like Jeff Horn lost the fight but I think the best thing to do is have a rematch. I’d love to see a good rematch to excite everybody up.
Robert Brown: Regardless of what happens in the rematch, do you think Manny Pacquiao should hang up the gloves after this fight?
Joe Cortez: Yes, I think Manny Pacquiao is a legend in boxing. He’s been in boxing for over twenty years of his life, I think he’s had his time. Win or lose, I feel he should retire because he gave the fans a lot of action for the last twenty years and we want to see him continue doing what he’s doing in The Philippines as a congressman. He should continue with his second career, he did what he had to do in boxing, he made a name for himself and made his country very proud. I think it’s time for him to say goodbye to the world of boxing.
Robert Brown: What are your thoughts on the Golovkin vs. Canelo fight?
Joe Cortez: This is going to be a very interesting match. You’re going to have a Russian fighting against a Mexican, it’s going t be a great fight, they are both great fighters. They both bring good talent into the fight. Golovkin is undefeated and Canelo only has one defeat, and I think this is a toss up, it could go either way. It depends on who comes in the best condition that night.
Robert Brown: Do you feel the Mayweather-McGregor fight will hurt the Golovkin-Canelo fight in pay-per-view buys?
Joe Cortez: I think it’s going to be just the opposite. I think it’s going to get the fans so excited and warmed up about boxing and MMA, I don’t think anyone is going to want to miss that big one with Canelo and Golovkin.