The late, great Hall of Famer Arthur Mercante Sr. is generally regarded as one of the top ring referee’s in boxing history. He shared the ring with the most illustrious, dynamic champions in heavyweight history – including Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson.
Mercante famously officiated the Ali-Frazier “Fight of the Century” in 1971 at Madison Square Garden and also, less memorably, he was the third man in the ring of the Mike Tyson-Tony Tubbs Tokyo tilt in 1988 (Tyson won by second-round knockout).
The last time I saw Arthur Mercante Sr. was when he made a surprise appearance at the Oscar De La Hoya-Ricardo Mayorga New York press conference which was staged at the ESPN Zone restaurant in Times Square. That afternoon I asked Mr. Mercante what his thoughts were about an Ali vs. Tyson hypothetical fight. “I think Ali would have beaten Tyson,” Mr. Mercante offered, without any hesitation. “Because, Ali, he gets in and he gets out and moves. Throws beautiful jabs. I think he would outclass him. I really do.”