With the Sept. 14 Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Canelo Alvarez blockbuster almost here, no details are too small for fans to consider, and among the fight's main ingredients are the officials.
The referee for the main event at Las Vegas' MGM Grand will be Kenny Bayless, a well-seasoned official who has worked many high-profile fights in the past. Bayless, a professional boxing referee for more than 20 years who also was a ringside inspector for more than a decade, is a no-nonsense ref who uses solid judgement at all times.
Bayless has worked Mayweather fights on three previous occasions: against Shane Mosley (2010), Oscar De La Hoya (2007) and Roberto Apodaca (1996), in Mayweather's first pro fight. This will mark Bayless' first fight in the ring with Canelo Alvarez.
Most referees will let two boxers fight out of the clinch as long as the holding isn't excessive, and Bayless is no different. When a fighter is hurt, he will look closely into his eyes during the action and perhaps call in the ringside doctor to evaluate him during the rest period -- although he will stop the fight immediately any time he believes a fighter is in danger. Like most refs, he would rather stop a fight a punch too soon than a punch too late.
Neither fighter's camp has expressed any concerns about the referee or judges assigned to the fight.
The judges will be Dave Moretti (100-plus world championship fights in more than 30 years of judging) and C.J. Ross 30-plus title fights over more than two decades), both of Nevada, and Canada's Craig Metcalfe (several title bouts in his 15 year-career).
A few of the ABC unified rules that will govern this fight: There will be light and hard warnings from the referee for infractions and, if excessive, point deductions for fouls. If an intentional foul is committed, there may be no warning and the offending fighter automatically penalized with a one- or two-point deduction, depending on the severity of the foul. The three-knockdown rule won't be in effect; a stoppage would be up to the discretion of the ref. An accidental cut or foul that would keep a fighter from continuing after six completed rounds will send the fight to the scorecards.
A reminder to fans: A judge will sometimes miss a punch (or punches) because the referee, ring ropes or angle of the fighters obscures the officials' view. A lopsided decision or controversial outcome can result from something as simple as the position of a judges' seat. It happens. Hopefully that won't be the case in this fight.
Joe Cortez, a former New York Golden Gloves winner, professional fighter and long-time referee, is a 2011 inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.