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Mayweather vs Pacquiao referee: Was Kenny Bayless the right choice?

Joseph Herron Updated
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The news of who will be the third man in the ring when Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao finally lock horns on May 2 was just released by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and it’s world renowned, veteran referee Kenny Bayless.

The highly anticipated super fight will be the fifth big “Mayweather” assignment the widely respected ring arbitrator has received, having officiated Floyd’s bouts with Canelo Alvarez, Sugar Shane Mosley, Oscar De la Hoya, and most recently the return match with Marcos Maidana last September.

Elite level trainer Ronnie Shields believes the Nevada State Athletic Commission made a quality selection for May 2.

“Kenny Bayless was the right man for the job,” claims the Houston, Texas based boxing coach.

“There’s a reason why he’s received so many big assignments throughout his career. Kenny is respected by everyone in the industry, including both camps in this fight. I don’t see why anyone would have a problem with the NSAC’s choice.”

Although the current selection for the Mayweather vs Pacquiao referee was indeed approved by both teams, many ringside observers criticized the 64 year old referee’s efforts throughout the second meeting between Mayweather and Maidana, scrutinizing the seemingly excessive clinches allowed during the twelve round contest. Many believe Mayweather ultimately used the veteran referee to create pivotal separation between both fighters.

Was Kenny Bayless an indirect advantage for Floyd Mayweather Jr. during his most recent bout with Marcos Maidana, and is “Money May” planning to utilize that same defensive strategy on May 2?

“I don’t see where it could be an advantage to either fighter, because Kenny always calls it like he sees it,” professes Coach Shields. “He allows both fighters to fight, and often encourages them to fight out of a clinch and work out by themselves. He only breaks up the action when he feels he has to.”

“No referee wants to be too involved with any fight, and Kenny is no exception. He likes to let the action play out naturally, just like most officials on the world class stage.”

Despite recognizing the abilities of the veteran referee, Ronnie also understands controversy will inevitably be surrounding this event post-fight.

“Even though I have the utmost respect for Kenny, I don’t envy his position on May 2,” admits the prolific fight trainer. “He’s in somewhat of a lose-lose situation with this massive assignment. I guess that’s why he’s getting paid $25,000 for this fight…I’ve never seen or heard of a referee making that much money for a prizefight.”

The 56 year old boxing mentor has been a part of many big events, and understands the always passionate fans of boxing will more than likely complain about the job Kenny Bayless does on May 2...regardless of how the action ultimately plays out.

“If Pacquiao wins the fight, Kenny’s going to get scrutinized by Floyd’s group of fans. And if Mayweather wins on May 2, the ref is going to get drilled by Manny’s die-hard supporters as well.

So he’s going to get thrashed post-fight regardless of which fighter gets their hand raised on fight night.”


“It comes with the territory and everyone involved with the fight realizes this. That’s why he’s getting such a hefty payday.”

Mayweather vs Pacquiao referee
Kenny Bayless facts

  • Age: 64
  • Catchphrase: What I say you must obey
  • Started as a volunteer amateur judge for the Golden Gloves program in 1977
  • After 9 years of refereeing for Golden Gloves, and 6 years with the Commission, his opportunity finally come.  He was appointed as a professional referee in 1991
  • Has officiated over 100 title fights

Notable fights

Mayweather vs Pacquiao Referee & Judges

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