Calls of a fix didn’t take long to roll in after Jake Paul sent Ben Askren to the canvas in the headliner of their cruiserweight fight for Triller Fight Club.
But the only forgone conclusion, per veteran combat sports official Marc Goddard, was that Askren was not going to come back from the damage he took, and he believes referee Brian Stutts made the right call Saturday in Atlanta.
The referee made the right call for Ben Askren. No work. No conspiracy. No one was “in on it”. Just a referee preventing a forgone conclusion. We don’t always need to see a kill shot.
— Marc Goddard (@marcgoddard_uk) April 18, 2021
“The referee made the right call for Ben Askren,” Goddard wrote. “No work. No conspiracy. No one was ‘in on it.’ Just a referee preventing a forgone conclusion. We don’t always need to see a kill shot.”
Paul picked up his third knockout victory with an overhand right that dropped Askren at the 1:59 mark of the first round. The bout was scheduled for eight rounds. It was Askren’s professional boxing debut after a decorated career as a wrestler and MMA fighter.
Askren appeared to protest the decision after Stutts called off the fight. Stutts had Askren walk forward after getting up off the canvas, and Askren appeared to be on wobbly legs.
The test Stutts conducted on Askren is standard procedure to assess the condition of a fighter who’s been knocked down. But online, fans who watched the bout immediately accused Askren of taking a dive.
Soon after the fight, Askren took to Twitter to apologize for the result.
But there was no consoling a very vocal segment of the boxing event’s audience. It was just the latest offense in a chaotic event that alternately entertained, confused and enraged depending on the expectations brought to the broadcast.