Lennox Head-based international boxing referee John Wright.
Lennox Head-based international boxing referee John Wright.

Johnny on the spot

By Sports Editor IAN MONAGHAN

JOHN Wright is too modest to admit that he's this country's most highly-regarded boxing referee.

But that's the official opinion, based on his latest assignment.

He will be one of the three judges for the IBO and IBF world heavyweight championship title fight between number two-rated American Ray Austin and Ukrainian giant Wladimir Klitschko next month.

Wright, who has lived at Lennox Head for the past four years, is the first Australian official ever appointed to adjudicate a world title stoush in the glamour heavyweight division.

When asked if he accepted that the honour meant he was Australia's number one boxing ref, Wright chuckled: "I guess you could say it certainly means recognition."

He jets out for Frankfurt, Germany next week, giving him a few days of European acclimatisation before sitting ringside when the two giants duke it out for the world title at the aptly named SAP Stadium in Mannheim on March 10.

No stranger to globe-trotting, Wright will be tackling his 14th world title fight ? but his (and Australia's) first in the stratosphere of the heavyweights.

He's adjudicated as either the referee or one of the three judges who allot the points round by round in title fights involving the likes of Jeff Fenech, Kostya Tszyu, Anthony Mundine, Shannon Taylor and Vic Darchinyan.

Wright, who sought a seachange and moved from Penrith to Lennox Head in late 2002, says the judging role carries much more pressure than that of the man in the middle ? the referee.

A judges' decision, when a fight isn't won on a knockout or technical knockout, means the points allocation by the three judges becomes crucial ? and often the controversial talking point.

Win, lose or draw, his heavyweight job certainly will become the talking point with his mate Simon over a flat white at the Lennox Point Cafe in downtown Lennox Head, a far cry from the world heavyweight ring.



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