"We predicted by round 6, I could stop him, and we ended up stopping him in round 5. The first time he was down, it was past 10 seconds. The second time he was down, he was down past 10 seconds...everybody applauded the way that I accepted the loss and I understand that and I appreciate that, but let me be clear, just because I was humble in accepting that loss does not negate the fact that I know in my heart I won the fight.... as an official, who is supposed to make a mutual, unbiased decision throughout the fight, you can't come into that ring with your emotions on your sleeve and I believe that this referee wore his emotions on his sleeve. Someone pointed it out to me after the fight, he was hugging the guy's wife after the fight. I have never seen a referee hug a guy's wife. I have never seen that," stated heavyweight contender Amir Mansour, who had a lot to say about the performance of referee Steve Smoger, who he felt gave Steve Cunningham more than the allotted 10 seconds to recover from both knockdowns during their entertaining clash last Friday. Check out what else he had to say!
PC: You have had time for everything to soak in. How are you feeling about it all?
AM: I'm disappointed, man. Even after the knockdown, I feel like I didn't press the action like I should have. But it's a great learning experience nevertheless.
PC: Have you actually watched the fight or you haven't took the time out to yet?
AM: I watched the first five rounds and after that, I was just so disgusted, man. I haven't watched anymore. I'm gonna sit down with my people tomorrow and we gonna watch the fight and go over a few things. The saddest part about it is, I went for the knockout. I already had a game plan and that was making this fight a fast pace fight. I didn't believe that he could withstand that fast pace. And I felt as though...we predicted by round 6, I could stop him, and we ended up stopping him in round 5. The first time he was down, it was past 10 seconds. The second time he was down, he was down past 10 seconds. I'm exhausting so much energy to try and make this stoppage correct. I was throwing a lot of caution to the wind, but he's not...he didn't take no chances this whole fight. I took all of the chances with the fast pace and going after him for the knockout for the kill. But when you training for a fight and your game plan works; your game plan actually works just to have the referee take it away from you and then you realize, how in the world can I prepare for a fight when at the same time taking into consideration that even if my game plan works, how do I beat the referee too. So that's bothersome to me, and everybody applauded the way that I accepted the loss and I understand that and I appreciate that, but let me be clear, just because I was humble in accepting that loss does not negate the fact that I know in my heart I won the fight.
PC: You also landed a straight left hand later in the fight that was ruled a slip. Do you feel that should have been ruled a knockdown as well?
AM: The beauty of this is that the fight is on video. Anybody that wants to protest what I am saying or what they are saying, all they have to do is go on YouTube and watch the fight themselves. The third knockdown was a legitimate knockdown. He called it a slip. He was flat on his back on that knockdown. He got up and it got called a slip. I barely touch the canvas with my glove, one glove, and he called it a knockdown and you could see my disappointment when he did that. Let me tell you something, when I saw this referee extend the count the way he did after I knocked him down the first time, and then go back and do it the second time, it took all of the fight out of me, man. It totally took the fight out of me, bruh. I understand a person being sympathetic, but as a referee that officiates fights, you can't come into that ring wearing your emotions on your sleeve. Us fighters, we can come into the ring wearing our emotions on our sleeve. A lot of times, that's what motivates us. What's going on in our lives; pain, passion, trials and tribulations. We take emotions into the ring and battle it out. But as an official, who is supposed to make a mutual, unbiased decision throughout the fight, you can't come into that ring with your emotions on your sleeve and I believe that this referee wore his emotions on his sleeve. Someone pointed it out to me after the fight, he was hugging the guy's wife after the fight. I have never seen a referee hug a guy's wife. I have never seen that.
PC: You had a lot of swelling going on around your eyes. Did that bother you any during the course of the fight?
AM: Man, I wasn't worried about my eye. He would have had to take my eye out of my head and stomp on it on the ground. I wasn't worried about my eye. Of course they were swollen, so of course a little bit of my vision was impaired, but I wasn't worried about that. Man, you saw a guy fighting from the 6th round on a broken heart. I knew what my plan was and I knew it was gonna work, but I also knew that it was gutsy, but I took a stance and I watched my game plan come to fruition, so to see a referee take away a successful game plan like that, I was heartbroken, man. It took a lot out of me. It took a whole lot out of me, man, to see the referee do that. I was crushed. How do I beat the referee too?
PC: Naazim Richardson felt you were getting away with headbutting and he felt Steve's cut was caused by a headbutt. What is your take on that?
AM: You could clearly see where I cut him at with the right hand and I thought I heard the commentators mention that it was caused by a punch. I know that Steve Smoger came to each corner and said the cut was caused by a punch. That's what he told us, so if somebody feels the cut was caused by a headbutt, I don't know what to say about that.
PC: How do you feel physically?
AM: I'm cool, man. I'll let my face heal up and then it's right back to the drawing board. Obviously there are some things I am going to look at and say, "Okay, these are the things I need to work on." And I will build this thing back up from the ground up. It is what it is. The only thing I can do is fight like a true trooper and that's what I'm gonna do.
PC: It was exactly what you promised, a war. Do you feel some sense of accomplishment being that the fight ended up being so good?
AM: Um, yeah I did, but at the same time, it's bittersweet. I worked just as hard as he did and I got kids just like he has kids. I got kids depending on me just like he got kids depending on him. I just felt like he won because of sympathy rather then really winning the fight. It was heartbreaking, man. I'm not gonna lie, man, it was hard fighting him with his daughter ringside. It was real hard, and then after I saw what the referee was doing, I said to myself, "I would literally have to kill this guy in order to win this fight. I'm gonna have to kill him because now you're telling me I have to knock him down for more than 10 plus seconds." It's not right and it's not fair at all. I'm not the one to scream bloody murder. If I take a loss, I take a loss. You beat me, you beat me, but the referee gave him a fighter's chance and the second half of the fight, maybe he did what he had to do. I didn't watch the second half of the fight. I thought I won 2 rounds after the 5th round, but like I said, I haven't watched it yet. But I thought I certainly won 2 of the last 5 rounds. But it's just heartbreaking. But at the same time, like I said, this man needed that win and I'm sure that that win is going to put him in a better position to be able to provide more help for his daughter. So you know, I'm happy and satisfied with that reality of it, but like I said, it's not gonna negate the fact that in my heart, I think I won the fight.
PC: One judge had the fight 97-90 in favor of Cunningham. How do you even explain that card?
AM: A lot of people...see, they play on people's ignorance a lot of times; these networks and judges play on people's ignorance. What a lot of people don't even realize is that it's a scoring system that if the fight goes 10 rounds, it's impossible for me to score 90 and him to score 97. What that meant is that this judge did not give me one round. He did not allow me to win one round. That meant that I didn't even win the round that I knocked this guy down in twice. So after two knockdowns, it's a 10-7 round and I didn't even win that round according to this judge. It's mathematically impossible for the score to end up 97-90. There is nothing I can do about it. It's water under the bridge. I'm contemplating protesting it. I'm gonna see how my people feel about it and see if we can get any rhythm maybe with the IBF or something from that standpoint. They were ringside, so I'm sure that if they are honest with themselves, they went back and told their superiors, "Listen man, something gotta be done." I don't know what happens from this point forward. All I know is that I'm fine, he's fine, I'm gonna live, God willing, to fight another day and so will he, and it's just back to the drawing board for me, man.
PC: You got a lot of love on social media after the fight and you have a great fan base. Is there anything you want to say to them before I let you go?
AM: I appreciate everybody and a lot of people are commenting on the way I handled the loss in the post-fight interview, but I want everybody to know that I was 100% sincere then and I am 100% sincere now about everything that I said. But I want to be clear on this; that still doesn't negate the fact that in my heart, I know that I won that fight. With having said that, I thank everybody for their support and everybody that came out and watched it. It did a .26 rating, which was the highest rating for their boxing show in the history of the network so far, and actually, the last half hour, it ended in like a .34 or .36, so we broke a record with the ratings we produced from the beginning to the end and I think that was good for boxing and the network and I'm sure I'll be back soon, man!
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]