Yesterday I was lying. Today, I’m telling the truth,” BOB ARUM
By Alex P. Vidal
NOW that the names of ring officials in the Fight of the Century in Las Vegas on May 2 have been revealed, the Doubting Thomases among Filipino fight fans are getting restless and paranoid.
Some have even cast doubts on the officials’ neutrality.
Others have lent credence on the vitriol of Oscar De La Hoya (39-6, 30 KOs) that third man in the ring, Kenny Bayless, may be a pro-Floyd Mayweather Jr. (47-0, 26 KOs).
De La Hoya could be speaking from a personal experience or out of disgust after failing to obtain favors from the popular referee in the past; his opinion, nevertheless, does not transform Bayless into a hooligan.
De La Hoya cited one instance in Mayweather Jr’s fight against Marcos Rene Maidana (35-5, 31 KOs), where Bayless allegedly “had the bad habit of prematurely” separating the fighters even if they weren’t clinching.
This was when Maidana was about to deliver a coup de grace to Mayweather Jr., De La Hoya pointed out, thus instead of hurting the unbeaten WBA/WBC welterweight champion, Mayweather Jr. managed to survive and beat the Argentine customer on points after 12 rounds.
Both Mayweather Jr., 38, and Bayless, 63, are residents of Nevada. And both are black (but we don’t believe Bayless will mediate the bout base on race).
Two of the three judges also hail from Nevada: Burt Clements and Dave Moretti. Third judge Glenn Feldman is from Connecticut.
All ring officials are Americans like Mayweather Jr. No Filipino or Asian, for that matter, has been assigned as official.
They were all appointed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, where Bayless had served as inspector for six years before he became a referee.
Bayless is a former Physical Education (P.E) teacher and considers boxing officiating as a serious job. He cited Pacquiao’s brutal two-round KO of Ricky Hatton (45-3, 32 KOs) as the worst beating in boxing that he has officiated.
As Hatton laid flat on the canvas, his eyes were still open but were rolling and glassy, Bayless recalled. He called it a night.
Bayless, a father of three, considers the Bernard Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KOs) versus De La Hoya duel on September 18, 2004 as the biggest fight that he has officiated.
It was witnessed by about 200 million people worldwide, he recalled.
He cried and considered quitting as ring arbiter more than 10 years ago when one of the fighters in the bout he had officiated in Las Vegas died of head injury, Bayless confessed in an HBO Sports interview last year.
Bayless was not yet involved in big time fights when Filipino referee, Carlos “Sonny” Padilla Jr., 80, was active in Las Vegas in the 70’s and 80’s.
As the ring officials undergo microscopic scrutiny, only Michael “Let’s-Get-Ready-To-Rumble” Buffer is free from doubts and reproach.
Like Caesar’s wife, only Buffer is considered by fans as above suspicion.
After all, he won’t hold any pen to decide the fates of Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs).
Buffer is “off limits” in as far as officiating is concerned. His role is only to introduce the protagonists and announce the winner.
But he is also a big Pacman fan. We once asked him who’s the greatest fighter in his opinion after Pacquiao stopped Miguel Angel Cotto (39-4, 32 KOs) in the 12th.
“Manny Pacquiao,” he remarked without any hesitation.
All officials, including, perhaps, Bob Arum, will be under intense scrutiny by fans, except Buffer.