Canelo vs. GGG 2 fight: Referee, judges tapped to officiate the highly anticipated rematch
One year after Adalaide Byrd's infamous scorecard, Saturday's rematch features a largely new mix of officials
While it may seem unfair to point a finger of blame at one person for the controversial way in which the first fight ended, Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin likely wouldn't be heading into Saturday's middleweight title rematch if it weren't for judge Adalaide Byrd.
The veteran official infamously scored the first Alvarez-Golovkin fight last September 118-110 in favor of Alvarez, which combined with Dave Moretti's 115-113 scorecard for Golovkin and Don Trella's 114-114 card produced a much-maligned split draw.
One year, one suspension and a pair of failed drug tests later, the two biggest stars of the 160-pound division will meet again on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (HBO PPV, 8 p.m. ET), and thanks to Alvarez's "tainted beef" fiasco, the focus hasn't centered much upon which officials will be working the rematch.
Yet because of the controversy which overshadowed what was an exciting and dramatic 12 rounds one year ago, it's important to take a closer look at who received the call at last month's Nevada Athletic Commission meeting and what, if anything, there is to expect from them in terms of their role in the fight.
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Considering that both fighters prefer to operate from distance and that neither have a reputation for inside fighting or dirty play, the name of referee Kenny Bayless was barely uttered in the first fight. While both sides pushed for Bayless again, he was unavailable for the rematch due to personal reasons and the Nevada commission's search for a replacement created a minor controversy.
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Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler and trainer Abel Sanchez argued against the NAC's preference of Tony Weeks, largely because of an issue Sanchez had while training junior lightweight Denis Shafikov against Rene Alvarado last December in Las Vegas when Weeks worked the bout. Oddly enough, Golovkin preferred Hall of Fame referee Robert Byrd despite the fact that he's married to the judge who controversially scored the fight for Alvarez last year.
"I'm uncomfortable with [Byrd] being there," executive director Bob Bennett said at the NAC meeting. "It will definitely create controversy because, unfortunately, Adalaide was off during the last fight."
In the end, the NAC chose to avoid the potentially bad headlines.
Benjy Esteves, Jr., referee: Esteves has never worked an Alvarez or Golovkin fight. A member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame, he has largely been known for his work on the East Coast in memorable bouts like Naseem Hamed-Kevin Kelley, Felix Trinidad-Pernell Whitaker, Miguel Cotto-Shane Mosley, Bernard Hopkins-Kelly Pavlik and Guillermo Rigondeaux-Nonito Donaire.
Dave Moretti, judge: The only judge retained from the first bout, the Las Vegas resident is one of the most respected big-fight judges in the sport having worked 11 Floyd Mayweather fights (including the last six), nine Manny Pacquiao fights and five involving Alvarez. Last year's split draw was Moretti's first involving Golovkin, though he has previously scored decisions in favor of Alvarez against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Miguel Cotto and Erislandy Lara.
Steve Weisfeld, judge: A former unofficial scorer on HBO boxing telecasts, Weisfeld will be judging his first Alvarez fight and fourth overall involving Golovkin. The New Jersey resident turned in a 115-112 scorecard in favor of Golovkin in his close decision win over Daniel Jacobs in March 2017.
Glenn Feldman, judge: The final judge selected, Feldman's highest-profile bout was alongside Moretti at Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao in 2015. his steady reputation includes three previous Golovkin fights (all knockouts) and two involving Alvarez.
According to the NAC, all three judges will earn $2,500 for the bout, while Esteves will be paid $5,000.
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