I have known boxing judge Joe Pasquale over the years and if I don’t get his scores down right in my report I hear about it from him. I had no trouble with that. I usually try to give my scores after covering a show. So when Joe came up to me recently and said “how can you call a round even?” I didn’t quite know what to say which is rare for me. “You know Joe, you are right,” said I.
At the age of 8 when I was watching my first boxing match the Marciano-Walcott II fight it was on television. When Pasquale was 8 he went to his first match with his father and grandfather.
Pasquale was born in Trenton, NJ, in 1949 and it was a good boxing area to grow up in. He had his first “assignment” in 1975 at the old Trenton Armory when famed cut-man Percy Richardson assigned him as a last-minute fill-in for timekeeper at a PAL amateur tournament. He would soon get assignments to judge the amateurs.
Upon being inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame the first people he gave credit to were the Goss brothers, Sammy, Barry, Jesse and Tommy. When I first promoted a fight it was in 1981 in Allentown, PA, and who but Sammy Goss was in the main event boxing a draw with Bethlehem’s Angel Cruz.
Upon his induction Pasquale said, “As always, I am deeply indebted to a wide range of family members and friends for their support. But, I also owe a special thanks to the following people for my appreciation and understanding of the sport with their time and knowledge.” …going on he’d thank Goss and others as mentioned above.
Others Pasquale credited were of course Richardson, Milo Savage, Ike Williams, Zack Clayton, Frank Stallone and Charlie Spina. The boxing commissioners for their confidence in his assignments such as “Jersey” Joe Walcott, Bob Lee, Chuck Minker, Marc Ratner, Greg Sirb and Larry Hazzard, Sr.
I recently ran into Pasquale at Madison Square Garden’s Theater when I was covering Golovkin-Rosado. Pasquale had an “easy” night with 2 knockouts and a no-contest. Prior to the fight I met him along with Steve “Double S” Smoger and Steve Weisfeld in the lobby. Pasquale gave me the bad news due to the VA commission taking over DE he probably wouldn’t be called to work there again. With 2 shows fought in DE in the first 2 months of the year that was sad to hear.
We had a nice talk about the “stars” he met over the years through his friend Frank Stallone. To my surprise they were not boxers but movie stars. He never met John Wayne but did meet his sons Patrick and Ethan. I told him I heard John Garfield, my favorite actor who starred in “Body & Soul” and Elvis Presley who starred in “Kid Galahad” were 2 movie stars who could have been good boxers. Though John “Duke” Wayne and Gary Cooper were “he-men” they would not have made good boxers I once read.
Pasquale has judged over 1200 professional fights in states like NJ, PA, DE, FL, NM, MD TX, NY, VA & WVA. In addition he judged in countries like Italy, France, England, Belgium Mexico, Spain, Switzerland and Monaco. He has judged many title fights for the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO.
Some of the great fights he has judged include the bouts of Roberto Duran, Julio Cesar Chavez, James “Buddy” McGirt, Meldrick Taylor, Simon Brown, Rocky Lockridge, Pernell Whitaker, Riddick Bowe, Evander Holyfield, James Toney, John Mugabi, Bernard Hopkins, Felix Trinidad, Howard Davis, Jr., Ray Mercer, Ricardo Lopez and Dwight Qawi (Braxton). He also judged the second and third Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward fights.
Pasquale was reminising about those early days in Trenton when I asked him to “remind” me due to a “senior moment” about a Trenton promoter and writer and he came up with them instantly. “John Millegan was the promoter of record and Ted Larve wrote for the Trentonian newspaper, was one of the best boxing historians in the mid 80’s.
I was driving to Atlantic City with Ted and Frank Stallone in the car. Both have this historical boxing thing down. So for 88 miles from Princeton to Atlantic City with Ted and Frank quoting fight stuff all the way we went. When we were at ringside at Resorts International, Bert Sugar got into the mix with them. Frank closed out Bert with the line about an old time fighter saying I own his press clippings, robe and gun. Bert shut up. Ted was better trumping with another detail about the old fighter that even shut up Frank”. What I wouldn’t have given to be in that car. I probably would have been thrown out halfway there.
In 1999, Pasquale retired from 25 years in government service. He now resides in Ventnor City, NJ, just outside Atlantic City, NJ. Not long after the MSG show he would judge at Harrah’s Philadelphia in Chester, PA, being that as his latest assignment. Now he is scheduled to work Mexico and he agreed to do a one on one via e-mail.
SS SMOGER (Ref): Excellent boxing judge. He’s a very knowledgeable person in and out of boxing along with being a great neighbor. We live on the same street in Ventnor City by the sea, NJ.
Greg SIRB (Exec Dir/PA Comm): A very good always professional judge.
Jeff JOWETT (Writer): He’s certainly one of the best judges in our area, stays focused on the action. Unlike most judges, he doesn’t get caught up in the extraneous factors that shouldn’t be part of scoring, like body language, crowd involvement…or the desires of the promoter! Interested in the game for itself, not for HIMself. Hasn’t blown a decision since Tony Martin-Sal Lopez, ha, ha! He’s also a most interesting and erudite guy outside of boxing. Good and knowledgeable conversation on almost any subject.
Henry HASSCUP (Pres. NJ HOF): Joe is one of the top boxing judges in the business and is respected by all his peers. He started first as an Amateur time keeper in 1975 and soon became an Amateur Judge. By 1984 he advanced to the professionals and has been there ever since. Besides all that, he is one of the real nice guys in the sport.
Kurt WOLFHEIMER (Fight News Writer): A true gentleman and one of the best judges in boxing.
Joey EYE (Intrieri) Cut-man & promoter): Joe is a very knowledgeable boxing guy who is very attentive to all the details of a boxing match. He knows what he is looking at in any bout from the bottom to the top level of boxing. Joe is also a very smart personable guy who every time I run into him has a cigar in hand to give me. Always love talking boxing and movies with him. I know that any fighter will get a fair shake if he is the judge.
Alan RUBENSTEIN (boxing judge): Joe is the consummate professional. He has a wealth of experience over 30 years. He’s a terrific colleague and very positive. He is a Real credit to the sport.
KEN HISSNER: How did you get to meet former NBA 130 & 135 world champion Ike Williams?
JOE PASQUALE: Through Dr. Bernard Taylor. Through Ike I met the Goss brothers and through them I met Percy Richardson who trained Sammy. Percy gave me my first assignments in the amateurs and several NJ prisons. This extreme crowd exposure made my transition into pro boxing almost seamless once NJ became a fight capital. Have yet to run into a crowd that tough in any pro show since 1984.
KEN HISSNER: Did you have a favorite judge?
JOE PASQUALE: Tommy Kaczmarek. He wrote the book on judging and ran the best seminars for NJ, NY, CT and the WBC.
KEN HISSNER: What was the most difficult show to judge?
JOE PASQUALE: All those away fights that include air travel. You are off your normal routines and have to be at your best. You have to minimize the tourism to get your rest for the fight.
KEN HISSNER: Where have you gone that was the most special place to work?
JOE PASQUALE: This is a tie between Royal Albert Hall in London with a full house and Monte Carlo with a tuxedo and Prince Rainer sitting next to me asking me between rounds to present the IBF championship belt after the fight. That was special.
KEN HISSNER: Are you allowed to have favorite fighters that are still active?
JOE PASQUALE: My favorite fighter of all time was Sammy Goss. If he makes his comeback at age 68 watch out for those close rounds. Maybe (Roberto) Duran, too.
KEN HISSNER: What organizations have you worked with?
JOE PASQUALE: I have worked with all of them with Atlantic City being such a fight city. IBF, WBC, WBA, WBO, IBO, WBF, IBA, IBU, EBU, WBU, IBC. But the IBF/USBA and NABF are my longest affiliations.
KEN HISSNER: Do you have a favorite Third Man in the Ring?
JOE PASQUALE: I am proud to have worked with some of the world’s best referees – Frank Cappuccino, Earl Morton, Arthur Mercante, Sr., Randy Neumann, Larry Hazzard, Marty Denkin, Dr. James Jen-Kin, Carlos Padilla, Mills Lane, Richard Steele, Jack Reis, Ruddy Battle, Eddie Cotton, Benjy Esteves, Gary Rosato, Toby Gibson, Mitch Halpern, Joe Cortez, Steve Smoger, and most recently Gino Rodriguez and another dozen greats in Boxing. My favorite boxing quote from Mills Lane - “Every fight is a title fight to somebody”.
KEN HISSNER: Do you think the judge’s pay scale is fair?
JOE PASQUALE: So, when any official takes press criticism on a fight, I resent this. Give them the benefit of a bad night, because they are really there for the love of the sport the same as the boxing press.
It was back in the early 80’s, but today it is really minimum wage when you compare it to the pay scale of other officials in the other sports. Today with time, tolls, gas mileage, food and dry cleaning, most time you just break even. So when any official takes press criticism I resent this because it is really a love of the sport endeavor for the pro for the boxer is who is just trying his best.
KEN HISSNER: What measures do you think boxing should take in order to be as popular as in their hay day?
JOE PASQUALE: I think more mainstream TV coverage of quality fight cards including some of those great club shows will keep boxing going. What the American market is not aware of is that boxing is a very big deal in most other countries. You have the Klitschko brothers drawing 40,000 plus fans in the rain in soccer stadiums. Recently Froch and Kessler drew a big crowd (in Denmark with 60 odd thousand in attendance). In Mexico bull rings packed for a live fight card. The Chinese market is still organizing so look out! The American nationalism is not what it was for our fighters and that has been reflected in our last few Olympics. The reality is that team sports are easier than boxing, but boxing is still there. Some of HBO and SHO biggest numbers are still from boxing.
KEN HISSNER: Joe I could go on and on with the questions. You are one interesting guy. I want to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule.