The eyes of the sports world will be on the much-anticipated Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao superfight on May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where the future Hall of Famers will meet to unify their welterweight world titles and show once and for all who the No. 1 fighter of the era is.
There will be one other man in the ring with Mayweather and Pacquiao, the referee. So who will get the call to officiate the biggest fight in many, many years?
There are only six candidates -- the six referees licensed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission in 2015. They are (alphabetically) Kenny Bayless, Robert Byrd, Vic Drakulich, Russell Mora, Jay Nady and Tony Weeks. Drakulich lives in Reno, Nevada; the rest live in Las Vegas.
At some point in the next couple of weeks, Bob Bennett, the executive director of the Nevada commission, will whittle the six candidates down to three. At the next commission meeting, which likely is going to be scheduled for April 21 in Las Vegas, he will recommend one of the three to the commissioners.
If history is any indicator, the five-member commission will accept Bennett's recommendation. The Mayweather and Pacquiao camps will have had every opportunity to voice any issues ahead of time about the referee (as well as the candidates to judge the fight). They can also voice any issues at the public meeting if they feel there is a legitimate reason the referee (or judges) selected should not work the bout. That rarely happens.
The judges will come from Nevada's licensed group but the commission is likely to appoint at least one, possibly even two, judges from outside of Nevada, meaning the pool of possibilities is quite large.
Here's a brief look at the candidates to be appointed as the referee for the fight. Whoever gets the gig likely will earn about $10,000 for working what is expected to be the richest fight in history.
KENNY BAYLESS Age: 64 Licensed in Nevada since: 1992
He is regarded by many as boxing's best referee and worked numerous big fights, including the two biggest-selling pay-per-view fights in history, both of which were Mayweather bouts -- against Oscar De La Hoya and Canelo Alvarez. Bayless has officiated five Mayweather bouts, the other ones being his rematch against Marcos Maidana in September, Shane Mosley and his 1996 professional debut against Roberto Apodaca. Bayless has refereed seven Pacquiao fights: Timothy Bradley II, Juan Manuel Marquez IV and II, Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton and Erik Morales II.
ROBERT BYRD Age: 72 Licensed in Nevada since: 2002
Byrd, a former California police officer, was a longtime referee and judge in California before moving to Nevada to referee there. His wife, Adalaide Byrd, is one of Nevada's most prominent judges. He still judges from time to time on international assignments. Byrd, who has officiated many world title bouts, has served as referee for one Mayweather fight and one Pacquiao bout. He was the third man in the ring for Mayweather's 2013 fight with Robert Guerrero and for Pacquiao's first meeting with Timothy Bradley Jr. in 2012.
VIC DRAKULICH Age: 62 Licensed in Nevada since: 1986
Drakulich has worked three Pacquiao fights and one Mayweather fight. He was in the ring when Pacquiao knocked out David Diaz to win a lightweight belt in 2008, he worked his 2007 win against Jorge Solis in San Antonio and his third fight against rival Erik Morales in 2006. It's been a long time since he has officiated a Mayweather bout - his debatable 2002 decision win against Jose Luis Castillo to win the lightweight title.
RUSSELL MORA Age: 63 Licensed in Nevada since: 2007
Mora rarely is assigned to the biggest fights and has never worked any bouts involving either Mayweather or Pacquiao. It would be a major surprise if the commission assigned him to Mayweather-Pacquiao. Before being licensed in Nevada, Mora also refereed fights in New Mexico.
Licensed in Nevada since: At least 1978 (Nevada records are incomplete before that)
Nady has refereed many major fights through the years, such as Canelo Alvarez-Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez-Marco Antonio Barrera, Oscar De La Hoya-Ricardo Mayorga and Felix Trinidad-Fernando Vargas, but he has never been assigned to a Pacquiao fight. He has refereed two Mayweather bouts, when he won his first world title, the junior lightweight crown, against the late Genaro Hernandez in 1998 and when he won the welterweight title for the first time against Carlos Baldomir in 2006.
TONY WEEKS Age: 58 Licensed in Nevada since: 2000
Weeks, like Bayless, is widely recognized as one of the finest active referees in the world. He was the third man in the ring for the fight many consider the greatest of all time, the 2005 lightweight unification bout between the late Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo. In terms of Mayweather bouts, Weeks has been assigned to three, his first fight with Marcos Maidana in 2014, the 2012 showdown with Miguel Cotto and his 2009 rout of Juan Manuel Marquez. On the Pacquiao side, Weeks has refereed three of his fights, his 2008 upset of Oscar De La Hoya, his 2007 rematch with Marco Antonio Barrera and his third showdown with rival Marquez.