The Nevada State Athletic Commission has selected the third man in the ring for the boxing pay-per-view bout between Floyd Mayweather and UFC champion Conor McGregor as well as the judges and the glove size for the fight.
Robert Byrd was named as the referee on Wednesday for the main event of the Aug. 26 bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (Showtime PPV, 9 p.m. ET). In addition, NSAC appointed veteran judges Burt Clements, Dave Moratti and Guido Cavalleri to work the bout.
The commission also controversially broke its own rule by voting unanimously in a one-time exception to allow the contracted glove size changed in this junior middleweight bout from 10 ounces down to 8 ounces. Boxing matches contested above 147 pounds mandates 10-ounce gloves, per NSAC rules.
Mayweather had publicly petitioned to have the glove size changed, in theory to throw McGregor a bone and help present the idea that the brash Irishman had more chances of winning. Mayweather, however,, who said NSAC would not bend to the fighter's request because "those regulations are in place for the health and safety of the athletes."
Byrd, a Nevada resident, is the husband of boxing and MMA judge Adelaide Byrd and a member of the World Boxing Hall of Fame. This will be his second fight involving Mayweather after Byrd officiated the former pound-for-pound king's 2013 victory over Robert Guerrero in Las Vegas.
Very pleased with the ruling today by the Nevada Athletic State Commission and the appointment of the officials for our event on 26 Aug.— Leonard Ellerbe (@LEllerbe) August 16, 2017
Considering Byrd's reputation as a level-headed official who maintains control without inserting himself too much, his appointment doesn't appear that it would favor either fighter.
Mayweather (49-0, 26 KOs) will be returning from a two-year retirement at the age of 40. The 29-year-old McGregor (21-3 in MMA), meanwhile, is making his professional boxing debut.
During an interview Tuesday with the LA Times, Bob Bennett revealed that NSAC chairman Anthony Marnell III made the decision to remove veteran official Kenny Bayless from contention ahead of time. Bayless has worked six of Mayweather's last 12 fights dating back to 2007.
But Bennett insisted that Bayless was only removed for comments he made to video reporter Elie Seckbach last year when the idea of Mayweather-McGregor was first floated around.
"I wouldn't want to see [the fight]," Bayless said in 2016. "It's two different sports. UFC and boxing are two different sports. What would be the point?"
The comments angered McGregor, who reacted during his media day in Las Vegas last Friday.
"[Bayless'] views … he went public on what he thought the fight was," McGregor said. "He can't be involved in the event."
Bayless is known for his conservative style, which was on display in Mayweather's 2014 rematch with Marcos Maidana, when he constantly pulled the two fighters apart at the first sign of clinching. The style favored Mayweather, who cruised to a unanimous decision, much more than Tony Weeks' liberal style did in Mayweather-Maidana I just four months earlier when "Money" hung to claim a majority decision in a physical bout.
"Conor McGregor had nothing to do with Kenny Bayless' removal," Bennett said. "Kenny Bayless was removed from being considered because of the comment. Based on his comment -- he shouldn't be talking to the media unless it's something mundane, like about how an official works -- he was removed long before McGregor said anything."
In April 2016, Byrd was removed from a fight he was scheduled to officiate -- Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley III -- due to a medical condition which prevented him from doing his job. He returned to action shortly after.