Fair but firm: Refereeing legend Joe Cortez advising Yahu Blackwell

Chris Glover 12/03/2017

The Hall of Fame referee, who is known for the term, ‘Fair but firm’ during his officiating days, is an icon in the boxing world due to all the memorable championship fights he officiated over the years. Including bouts with the likes of Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, Lennox Lewis, Roberto Duran, and several others.

Now also serving as an analyst for ESPN Deportes, Cortez was spotted inside of the MGM Grand’s media room in Las Vegas following the weigh-in for tonight’s Carl Frampton vs. Leo Santa Cruz rematch, set for to air on SHOWTIME.

Whether ringside or not calling the fights, Cortez still finds himself heavily involved in the sport. It had been reported that Cortez is now advising upcoming Hebrew boxer Yahu “Rock” Blackwell and he confirmed the news boxing media.

“Yahu is a cruiserweight fighter; a great fighter coming up,” Cortez explained of Blackwell.

Yahu Blackwell lossed his 2009 pro debut, when less than stellar management resulted in Blackwell breaking his right hand, and reaching life-threatening levels of dehydration; as he dropped 30+ pounds of water weight and muscle to try to achieve a 154 pound weight limit. The bout was stopped by the ring doctor when he examined Blackwell.

In 2013 Blackwell signed with a new management team, which has resulted in a his career skyrocketing. Team Blackwell traveled overseas and competed in the International Boxing League; A professional boxing tournament outside of the traditional ABC. There he compiled an impressive record of 15-0, winning the WBU (World Boxing Union) novice world championship. Due to his great success in the IBL; On March 5th, 2014, it was announced by Don “Moose” Lewis (President of WBU) that Yahu Blackwell was ranked 10th in there world rankings for WBU and IBU titles.

Cortez knows all too well what it takes to make it at the highest levels of the sport, from overseeing 200 championship fights as a world-class referee, to his experience in the ring himself, where he won six Golden Gloves tournaments while compiling a pro record of 18-1.

“I bring a lot of knowledge and wisdom into the sport of boxing,” Cortez noted. As far as what it will take to ascend to the highest of ranks in the professional game, Cortez was candid with his response. “To fight at the top level, they have to be hungry,” said Cortez. “Most of these guys coming up are hungry, they know it’s an opportunity for them to get into the limelight and hopefully one day become world champion. As well as the money that comes with it.”

Cortez sees the promise in Blackwell and is envisioning a productive 2017.

“He’s very devoted to the sport,” said Cortez of Blackwell. “He’s always in the gym and he listens to my advice. He wants to learn and be a great fighter and we got the potential to go all the way.”