Davey Pearl in his most famous fight

Up close and personal with Davey Pearl

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 

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 

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 

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 

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 

Brad Berkwitt