Joe Cortez

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Joe Cortez (born 1945 in New York, New York) is a Puerto Rican boxing referee who has worked many important world title bouts.


Cortez moved to Puerto Rico during his childhood. Living there, he became fluent in Spanish. Cortez had a good amateur boxing career, winning various Golden Gloves tournaments from 1960 to 1962. In 1963, at the minimum age of eighteen, he jumped into the professional boxing ranks. Cortez had a record of eighteen wins and one defeat as a professional boxer. Unable to secure a world title shot, however, he retired from boxing after only nineteen professional fights.

Beginning in the early 1970s, Cortez started working as a referee. During the 1980s, he took on the responsibility to referee some important, but not big, fights. During this time he was the third man in the ring in several of Mike Tyson's pro fights.

As eminent referees Richard Steele and Mills Lane retired at the dawn of the 21st century, Cortez became one of Nevada and New York's preferred boxing referees for world title fights. He has refereed over 170 world title bouts, among which figure the first Oscar De La Hoya-Julio César Chávez meeting, Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe's first title fight and the match that saw 45-year-old George Foreman become the oldest World Heavyweight Champion in history. Asked by Telemundo personnel to give a prediction about the first de la Hoya-Chávez meeting prior to the fight taking place, he simply answered "I can't make any...
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