Legendary boxing referee Carlos ‘Sonny’ Padilla was recently inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame.
Famous for serving as the third man in the ring when Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier rumbled in the Thrilla in Manila in 1975, Padilla was included in the 2020 batch of inductees.
Owing to the pandemic, the actual induction rites were only held less than a week ago at Resorts World in Las Vegas.
Now 88, Padilla has been residing in Las Vegas for several decades.
The father of actress ZsaZsa Padilla and grandfather to singer-actress Karylle, Padilla migrated to the United States after the epic 14-round battle won by Ali at the oven-hot and packed Araneta Coliseum.
In America, Padilla went on to officiate many of boxing’s most unforgettable duels, including the first Sugar Ray Leonard-Roberto Duran welter war in Montreal in 1980, Thomas Hearns’ two-round destruction of Duran in 1984 and the Salvador Sanchez vs Wilfredo Gomez featherweight fistic festival in 1981.
Padilla, in an interview with this writer many years ago, said “refereeing a heavyweight fight was something else.”
“It’s so different because the punches that land have so much impact. You can not only hear it, you feel it, too,” he said in Pilipino.
“The punches are like thunderbolt,” he added.