Nevada Athletic Commission chairman Anthony Marnell called it “the world record for approval of officials” after a lengthy discussion regarding the judges and referee recommended for the Sept. 15 rematch between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.
With the first fight ending in controversy — and a draw — because of judge Adalaide Byrd’s lopsided 118-110 scorecard in favor of Alvarez, it’s no surprise the agenda item during Wednesday’s monthly commission meeting lasted about 30 minutes before a motion was requested.
But everyone was in agreement with the three judges recommended. It was the referee that caused the delay.
The commission eventually unanimously approved judges Dave Moretti of Las Vegas, Steve Weisfeld of New Jersey and Glenn Feldman of Connecticut and referee Benjy Esteves Jr. of New Jersey as the officials for the megabout at T-Mobile Arena.
Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter, and Eric Gomez, Alvarez’s promoter, attended the meeting in downtown Las Vegas and requested to have Robert Byrd as the referee instead of Tony Weeks, who was recommended by commission executive director Bob Bennett.
Loeffler told the commission that Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez, had issues with Weeks because of a December fight in Las Vegas between Rene Alvarado and Denis Shafikov, who is trained by Sanchez.
“Sometimes it’s a personality issue, and we didn’t want to impute Tony Weeks’ reputation,” Loeffler said. “There’s just some type of personal issue between two people, and we wanted to avoid it. We have to commend the Nevada commission for coming to this resolution and trying to avoid any controversy.”
Marnell argued: “We need to get through this in a way that is productive so you guys feel comfortable, but to say that Tony Weeks is not qualified for this fight, and I want to be on the record, that’s absolutely absurd and insane.”
From Bennett’s list of potential referees, Loeffler only approved of Esteves and Byrd. Bennett didn’t want Byrd as the referee because he’s married to Adalaide Byrd.
“I’m uncomfortable with him being there, and it will definitely create controversy because, unfortunately, Adalaide was off during the last fight,” Bennett said during the meeting.
Gomez had no issue with Bennett’s lists and recommendations, but supported Loeffler’s requests to change the referee.
“I want (the Golovkin camp) to be comfortable,” Gomez said. “I don’t want them to have any excuses or gripes.”
Both sides were pushing for Kenny Bayless to be the referee because they approved of his work in the first bout between Golovkin and Alvarez, which ended in a split draw last September.
Bayless was removed from the recommended list late Tuesday because he is unavailable on fight night for personal reasons.
Moretti was one of the three judges in the first fight. He scored it 115-113 for Golovkin, with Connecticut judge Don Trella scoring it 114-114.