It's only fitting. The great Hall of Fame referee Arthur Mercante Sr., who died in April at the age of 90, was the referee for the last fight at the old Yankee Stadium 34 years ago. His son, Arthur Jr., has the honor of serving as third man in the ring tonight for WBA super welterweight champion Yuri Foreman and challenger Miguel Cotto, who are in the main event of the first boxing card at new Yankee Stadium.
The idea of naming Mercante Jr. as the main event ref for the return of boxing to one of its most historical venues first was suggested by Newsday staffer Bobby Cassidy. Malvina Lathan, the chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission, confirmed to Newsday this evening that Mercante Jr. got the assignment.
Unfortunately, Lathan said Mercante would not be permitted to do interviews before the fight, and she declined to comment on the decision to honor his father's memory that way because she was busy performing her pre-fight duties.
Nonetheless, the NYSAC is to be applauded for doing its part to pay homage to the past by allowing Mercante Jr. to perpetuate his father's great legacy to the sport. Mercante Sr., of course, officiated Muhammad Ali's controversial 15-round decision over Ken Norton in their third fight. As I write this, a replay of that fight is being shown on the video boards with commentary by former heavyweight champion George Foreman.
The circle is unbroken.