Webster's Dictionary defines the word referee as follows: A sports official usually having final authority while administering a game. Well, I want to add another couple words to Webster's definition. True and Professional are the words I would add to define Davey Pearl, in my opinion. I had the distinct pleasure to interview a man I have always felt added something positive to the sport of boxing. Standing only at 5'4, he was a giant way before they even gave that title to referee, Mills Lane. Davey has been the referee in so many great bouts to include the first, Sugar Ray Leonard vs Tommy Hearns fight for the undisputed Welterweight Title of the world and Larry Holmes vs Earnie Shavers for the Heavyweight Title. As you will read, boxing is this very sweet man's life as I found out, while talking to him for almost an hour and I enjoyed, every minute of it. The following is our interview:
Interview by: Brad Berkwitt Brad: First of all, it's a pleasure to interview someone I have always felt was a positive force in boxing. For the readers, who always bring up your name when we talk about great fights, what are you doing today? Davey: Waiting to get a FIGHT! Davey said with a chuckle. Brad, it's my whole life and I have been refereeing for about 35 years now. The fight's don't come too often anymore and I miss them. I really don't do many fights anymore and it really looks like they are retiring me I am guessing. Brad: What was the first fight you ever refereed and what was the outcome? Davey: Well, the first one was a crusierweight fight in Las Vegas. The promoter came over to me and wanted to know if I wanted to do it? I said yes and than he asked me if I had any boxing shoes in my car? I went and got a pair of bowling shoes to wear. Now the funny thing Brad, in the first round, one of the fighters hit me right on the chin and you know what? I didn't feel a thing because my adrenaline was so pumped up. Now of course the fans are hollering because they always like to see an official get hit or go down. So, in the middle of the second round, I stopped and faced the crowd. I snapped my fingers over my shoulders, than proceeded to holler to them, mosquito bite. That was the first and last time I ever got hit in the ring Brad. Brad: What do you think of the state of boxing today? Davey: I have got to go with evidence such as in Las Vegas for example, all the hotels are putting on fights. They wouldn't go back to boxing unless it would help them. We are getting lots of fights around here. The simple fact that hotels and lots of smaller venues are putting on fights is a good sign to me. Brad: Since you had the opportunity to referee in 15 rounds fights, would you like to see them come back? Davey: I loved the 15 round fights and I never had a problem going the distance with the fighters. Brad: Do you think there should be only two judges and the referee judging the fight like in the old days? Davey: I think the greatest thing that ever happened for guys that want to be referee's is that they changed this rule. They should thank their lucky stars. Brad: Who are your three favorite fighters of all-time and why? Davey: Well, Larry Holmes is one. I did about 5 or 6 fights of Larry's all but one, were title fights. I was very happy to get them and that he had that much confidence in me to do his fights. I have total respect for Larry. Davey than said Brad sometimes I tell people my favorite fighter and they want to boo me off. I replied, I would never do that to you. Davey then said, Sonny Liston. Liston as you know Brad was not liked by too many guys in Las Vegas. In fact, as far as they were concerned, he was a bum. They would always jump on my back and ask how could you run with a guy like that? The way I use to get them off my back, is by telling them that I use to run with him every morning for five years on the golf course. Well, you do that, and you get to really know someone. Brad, nobody knew Sonny Liston like I did. I still get calls once or twice a month, asking me questions about him. I will tell you an interesting story Brad concerning Sonny. I was in his corner when he fought Chuck Wepner and I was really not supposed to be there. I got the word that the fight was fixed against him. I did not know what to do or how strong to come on. It's very tough to accuse people when they haven't done anything yet. So when the fifth round was over, Sonny came back to the corner and said Jesus I hate to hit this guy anymore. Now for a guy like Sonny to say this was an event in it's itself. I told Sonny the fight is fixed against us. Sonny replied, Your kidding? I than replied, No I am not. Go and knock him out this round and Sonny sure did. My third would be Muhammad Ali. He was the perfect gentleman. Brad: What is the greatest fight you have ever seen and why? Davey: I would say Tommy Hearns vs Marvin Hagler. That had to be best three rounds I have ever seen in boxing. They went all out that night and made it one heck of a fight. Brad: Do you have any funny stories about boxing you were involved in or around? Davey: Well, it may not be that funny but I will tell you one. A guy from this area, named Bill Miller use to put on show's every Wednesday for 20 plus years. He goes and gets a pilot's license and than flies down to Mexico to pick up fighters. He would get two guys for a fight who may have been brothers or cousins who knew back than. He would fly them in for the fight and then fly them back. I was the ref for that fight and I could see I was going to have problems. I am doing the sign language thing with them and second of all, the one guy would throw a punch while the other made believe he was dizzy from the punch that never landed. So I warned them and warned them. Finally, in the second round I went to the corner and told them, NO PUNCH, NO PAY! Those were the magic words. The one guy comes out and throws one punch and just taps the guy on the chin. He falls and I start counting. 7, 8, 9, the guy is laying there like he is dead and I am saying to myself, there is no way I could miss this hard of punch. On 10, the guy jumps up and says 10. He starts dancing around the ring and singing. He surprised me so much that he made me jump up too. So the moral to the story is DON'T JUMP! (Davey said with such a great laugh.) Brad: I recall that you did commentary but always wondered why you didn't stick with it? Davey: I was starting to get a lot of work commentating and a guy comes to me from the TV station one day and tells me, that you just said that was one of the best rounds you have ever seen. Why did you not say it stronger? He is picking on me about some crap and I told the guy to take a hike. That was the end of the commentating for me. Brad: Do you favor a mandatory retirement fund for all boxers? Davey: Yes I do! If you can find honest people to do it, than, it would be great. Brad: What was the most brutal knockout you have ever seen? Davey: I saw one the other night, that was pretty brutal. David Tua knocking out Obed Sullivan in only seconds of the first round. Brad: Did you ever score a fight and when the decision was announced, you were surprised at how the other two judges had the fight scored? Davey: I had the first Ali vs Spinks scored for Leon Spinks. One judge had it for Ali and I thought when he I heard his scorecard that they were going to rob Leon Spinks of the fight. Brad: What do you want you're many fans to remember you for? Davey: Respect the little guy and that I was twice as fast as those big guys. Brad: Finally, what is the saying you live your life by? Davey: NO PAY! This is famous for me. In closing Davey told me the following: I loved the reputation I got with the fighters. They respect me so much you would not believe it. I respect them back just as much and never give any of them garbage. I would also like to mention that I got put in the World Boxing Hall of Fame. My last statement to the whole crowd of over a 1000 people was, "Everybody here is connected with boxing and for that, I love all of you." Finally, Brad I want to tell you one other story about my friend Sonny Liston. I picked him up in my car one time and we are riding down the main street in Las Vegas. The cars are bumper to bumper. Sonny out of nowhere says stop the car! I asked him, what are you nuts? I can't stop the car we are bumper to bumper. He yelled again, pull over! Well, I pulled over because this was unusual for him to holler at me since he never had before. I pulled up to the curb and there is a little old white lady selling pencils on a rolling table. Sonny reached in his pocket and emptied it out. I mean he did not have 10 cents left in his pocket Brad. This is one of the reasons they can never say a bad thing to me about Sonny Liston. Writers closing comments: I always enjoy bestowing compliments on someone who truly deserves it. So I would like to say the following TO Davey. You were a true professional in there and always honest in your dealings with fighters. As a true boxing fan, I thank you and now consider you amongst my favorite interviews. As always fight fans, keep reaching for the stars and all your dreams can be fulfilled.