Lou Filippo dies at 83; boxing hall of famer appeared in ‘Rocky’ movies

Lou Filippo, a boxing hall of famer from Downey who became a referee and ring judge, memorably counting out Sylvester Stallone’s champion rival Apollo Creed in the film “Rocky II,” died Monday at Downey Regional Medical Center after suffering a stroke. He was 83.

Filippo was a distinguished amateur fighter who fought in more than 250 bouts before turning pro. His fighting career ended in 1957 with a no-contest outcome and a technical knockout loss against Hall of Famer Carlos Ortiz, a bout stopped because of Filippo’s cuts -- bleeding plagued his 23-9-3 pro career.

Boxing historian Don Fraser of the California Boxing Hall of Fame recalled that Filippo was originally awarded a victory in the first bout against Ortiz after being hit after the bell, but a Times reporter questioned a member of the California State Athletic Commission about that ruling, and the no-contest decision was invoked.


Fraser said about 40 gamblers who were set to lose money on the Filippo victory then forced the ring announcer to re-enter the Legion Stadium ring in Hollywood and announce the ruling so they could avoid the payoffs.

In a sport often stained by shady behavior, Fraser and veteran boxing publicist Bill Caplan recalled Filippo as a pillar of character and honesty who proceeded to referee and judge 85 world championship fights, including Sugar Ray Leonard’s controversial split-decision victory over Marvin Hagler in 1987. Filippo scored narrowly in Hagler’s favor.

“He took some heat, but why?” Caplan asked. “The perfect man would’ve taken heat over that fight. Half of the people thought each guy won.”

Filippo also judged Shane Mosley’s split-decision victory over Oscar De La Hoya at Staples Center in 2000, awarding Mosley a 116-112 score.

Filippo told his two daughters that the most important part of his job was to maintain integrity and to “listen to yourself, not the fans.”

Caplan said Filippo’s reputation as a “loyal, straight-up guy” helped him win Stallone’s attention, and the actor used Filippo in five “Rocky” movies. In “Rocky II,” Filippo tells Stallone’s bloodied character Rocky Balboa before the epic 15th round, “Hey, Rock, you get in trouble one more time . . . ,” to which Balboa answers, “Don’t stop nothing!” When both fighters fall to the canvas on a Balboa punch and Creed slumps in a corner, Filippo tells the champ, “You’re out!”

Filippo was born Dec. 1, 1925 in Los Angeles, attended Fremont High School in South L.A. and served in the Navy during World War II.

He was elected president of the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993, and he judged a bout at the Commerce Casino only two weeks ago, his daughter Patti Petruzelli said. She said her father was never sick and only complained of his first headache last week. But he sorely missed his late wife, Pat, who died in 2007, and his daughter said, “He’s where he wants to be now. He loved her.

“Boxing was his second love.”

In addition to Petruzelli, Filippo is survived by another daughter, Debbye Shepard; two grandsons; and three great-grandchildren.

Visitation is scheduled for Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Miller Mies Mortuary, 11015 Downey Ave., Downey. The funeral will be Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, 10727 Downey Ave., Downey.