With the passing of Arthur Mercante this weekend, many people and articles recalled how he refereed the last fight at Yankee Stadium -- Muhammad Ali over Ken Norton in 1976. It's also worth noting that he was at Yankee Stadium in 1952 on the night Sugar Ray Robinson collapsed in the ring against Joey Maxim in his attempt to win a title in a fourth weight class. Not only did Robinson collapse, so did referee Ruby Goldstein, who was replaced by alternate Ray Miller. Arthur was in attendance as a spectator and said that fight was a tough assignment for anyone.
Arthur also liked to tell the story of how -- at the Norton-Ali fight -- his son James, a Merchant Marine, and his fellow cadets were pressed into security service at the Stadium.
So, the day before Arthur passes, it was formally announced that boxing will return to Yankee Stadium with the Miguel Cotto-Yuri Foreman fight. Let's honor Arthur's memory by having the first fight back at the stadium refereed by his son, Arthur Jr., himself a world-class referee.
There were two things that immediately struck you when you saw Mercante Sr. How dapper he was dressed and the fact that he looked in excellent physical condition. Arthur refereed many of my dad's fights and when I told my dad of his passing he said, "I thought Arthur would have lived to 120 because he was always in such great shape."
From Newsday's print edition: Here is Greg Logan's obit on Mercante.
Below is our video from the press conference at Yankee Stadium