As the fight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather Jr. draws closer, one of the more interesting issues that will need to be addressed is the assignment of a referee.
Even in fights between two boxers, the refereeing assignments can cause arguments between camps, as certain officials are seen as favouring one style over another, or being more lenient/harsh when it comes to certain infractions, or being more willing to allow fights to take their natural course as opposed to getting frequently involved in the action.
Ahead of a boxing match in which one of the combatants is an MMA fighter then, the potential for argument seems even greater.
Many observers have suggested that the only way McGregor can cause Mayweather any problems is by using his size and strength advantage to rough the boxer up. If the Irishman’s gameplan is to get physical with Mayweather, then he will need a referee who tends to allow wars of attrition. The McGregor camp will also be looking for an impartial official, although finding a boxing referee who isn’t somewhat biased towards Floyd, consciously or subconsciously, in this situation may prove difficult and it will be almost impossible to identify those officials in advance.
However, one big name referee who has already publicly displayed a strong opinion on the fight and has been accused of showing bias towards Mayweather in the past is Kenny Bayless.
A vexed Dana White recently tweeted a clip in which Bayless expresses his disinterest in the fight. “I wouldn’t want to see it,” says the veteran referee in the clip, which was taken from an interview conducted before the bout was actually announced.
Seriously? This is Kenny Bayless who works for the NSAC a potential ref for the fight. Sounds like he works for the crybaby Oscar De La Arum pic.twitter.com/7yLvORqMOQ
— danawhite (@danawhite) June 23, 2017
Bayless is frequently assigned to marquee fights in Nevada and he has been the third man in the ring for a number of Mayweather contests, including the Manny Pacquiao, Saul Alvarez, Shane Mosley and Oscar De La Hoya fights. In 2017, Bayless has already officiated in two massive Vegas showdowns, Saul Alvarez vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Carl Frampton vs Leo Santa Cruz 2.
When he was asked during a recent Q&A on Boards.ie if he intends to object in the event that Bayless is appointed as referee for McGregor vs Mayweather, SBG Ireland founder John Kavanagh answered in the affirmative.
“Yes, I’ll be objecting to that,” wrote McGregor’s head coach.
Interestingly, the same fan who posed the question about Bayless, also asked Kavanagh the following;
“Speaking of ref’s, will you be hoping that the ref will actually allow some proper clinch work? There was plenty of clinch fighting in Kovalev-Ward last week but Floyd usually brings in ref’s who separate fast.”
“Actually Floyd likes to hold on, especially after been hit,” wrote Kavanagh in response.“Difficult to hold on to someone trained in wrestling though.”
Who, then, would Kavanagh like to see act as the third man in the ring on August 26th? Tony Weeks? Jay Nady?
In a recent interview with ESPN, Kavanagh actually suggested that an MMA referee should be appointed to the contest considering the fact that McGregor has been making all the concessions and is preparing to step into Mayweather’s world.
“I think Marc Goddard should be the referee,” Kavanagh said. “We’re already agreeing to boxing rules, boxing fight, boxing ring — everything is done boxing. So, how about an MMA referee that will understand the inside fighting that will go into this fight?”
If the Nevada State Athletic Commission are willing to sanction a boxing match between a pro debutant and the greatest pugilist of a generation, maybe they would be willing to assign an MMA referee to a boxing bout. But even if that were the case, Mayweather’s camp would never allow it to happen.
It will be interesting to see how this situation develops over the coming weeks.
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