Column: Mills Lane talks about losing a friend

Not only did Nevada lose one of the top referees in the country a couple of weeks ago when Mitch Halpern died by suicide at his Las Vegas home, Mills Lane lost a friend.

"He was my protege and my friend," said Mills sadly about what happened. "We were close."

Lane, himself a top referee probably best known for working the Evander Holyfield/Mike Tyson fight - now known as the "bite-fight." Lane retired a couple of years ago but in Halpern he saw not only a top referee but someone who could follow in his footsteps.

"He was the best," said Mills when we talked about what occurred. "I believe he was the top referee around, maybe the best in the world. What a shame - I will miss him."

Lane went to Halpern's memorial service in Las Vegas and said there were "a lot of people there" to honor Mitch's memory.

"He was a great referee and a good guy as well as a friend," Mills added. "There will be a big void in Nevada boxing because he's gone."

-- On a personal note, I barely knew Mitch. Just enough to "talk boxing" with him when our paths crossed at fight cards. He seemed like a nice enough guy and I thought he was a very good referee too. It really is sad that what happened did happen and like many in the sport, it's still hard to understand. However, it did happen and there's nothing we can do about it.

Mitch Halpern was only 33 years old.

-- Mills told the story of how he got the Holyfield-Tyson fight and what he did afterward.

"That fight was originally assigned to Mitch (He worked the first Tyson-Holyfield fight) but after the Tyson camp protested Mitch withdrew from the fight," Mills said. "It was assigned to me and after it was over I offered Mitch half of what I got paid for the fight but he wouldn't take it - that's the kind of man he was."

-- On a brighter note, Mills said he is still involved in boxing.

"I still follow the sport and I enjoy going to the fights," Mills said happily. "I go every chance I get. I still do television color commentary for FOX. I just signed a new contract with them and look forward to doing some more fights."

More good news from Mills. His "Judge Mills Lane" TV show is "going great" and Lane, who resides in Reno, travels to "The Big Apple" to tape the show.

"Paramount bought us," said Mills about the show. "We're set for five years. We shoot the show at CBS Studios in New York City."

-- One prediction from Mills. Since Mike Tyson just signed to fight Andrew Golota Oct. 20 in Detroit, I asked him who he likes in the fight?

"I would have picked Golota but after he quit (in round 10 when far ahead) against Michael Grant I just can't think he'll beat Tyson," he replied. "It could be an ugly fight."

What amazes me about this fight is that it is going to be on pay-per-view TV. It will cost $50 bucks to see it, which is highway robbery, since neither fighter has done anything of note except foul and bite other opponents and for them to be on PPV is a joke!

All I can add is that anyone who buys this garbage deserves what they get and that won't be much as Tyson figures to whack Golota out early. Andrew only lasted a little over 9 seconds when he challenged heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis last year and he'll probably freeze up at the sight of Tyson and fall just as quickly in this fight.

We'll have more on this as fight time approaches but I will tell you this, I wouldn't buy this fight just because I don't want any of my money leaving my pocket and going into Tyson's and Golota's and also because fights like this don't belong on PPV at all. This is an HBO type of fight at best and those who pay to see it only encourage promoters to keep putting them on PPV.

-- Speaking of HBO, they had a great couple of fights on their "Boxing After Dark" series Saturday night from El Paso, Texas.

First up was Sacramento's Diego Corrales defending his IBF junior lightweight (130-pound limit) title against Angel Manfredy. Corrales (33-0, 27 KO's), who trains in Las Vegas for his fights, just plain whipped Manfredy (33-5-1, 26 KO's), knocking him down in round one and out in round three. Corrales looked impressive against Manfredy, a tough cookie himself who is from Hobart, Ind. , Corrales was a 5-1 favorite and fought like it. Manfredy was just in over his head.

In the main event, undefeated Erik Morales (38-0, 30 KO's) took out another tough cookie when he stopped former champ Kevin Kelley in round seven of their scheduled 12-round featherweight (126-limit) fight. Kelley (51-5-2, 34 KO's) was down in rounds five and seven before the fight, which was action-packed and very, very good, was stopped.

-- At Yerington's Back Alley Fights on Sunday, in the main event, which was televised live around the world on Univision, Manny Castillo (15-0, 9 KO's) won a unanimous 10-round decision over late substitute Oscar Andrade (24-18-1, 13 KO's) in a fight that lacked excitement between two jockey-size flyweight (115-limit) fighters.

Castillo put on a workmanlike performance in pounding his way to the win. There were no knockdowns or cuts during the bout. Carson City boxing judge Keith Macdonald and Gardnerville judge Doug Tucker worked the main event, as did Reno's Burt Clements.

-- In a terrible fight between two late, late subs, Robert Allen won a split decision over Ronald Weaver on the ESPN2 Friday night fights main event. Both fought like they wanted to be somewhere else in their super middleweight (168-limit) fight.

This Friday ESPN2 starts one hour later with their live fight telecast at 7 p.m.

-- On Saturday night, HBO has K.O. Nation starting at 5 p.m. Two good fights on tap for the telecast. Main event has heavyweights Clifford Clouser fighting Clifford Etiene and the semi-main has junior middleweights (154-limit) Bronco McKart going up against Winky Wright.

Also on Saturday, in another fight not worthy of being on pay-per-view TV but is, Roy Jones Jr., defends his light heavyweight (175-limit) title against unknown and non-competitive Eric Harding in what should be a boring - aren't most of Jones fights these days one-sided and boring? - fight. Also on the PPV telecast is Marco Antonio Barrera fighting Jose Luis Valbuena. Again, a HBO-type fight card at best that has no business on PPV TV!

-- The Peppermill in Reno has a live fight card Sunday starting at 11:30 a.m. Main event has Alejandro Gonzalez (43-4, 31 KO's) going against J. Esalas (23-0, 19 KO's) and you can see that fight live on Univision starting at noon.

ALAN ROGERS is the Nevada Appeal boxing writer.

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