Usually, the selection of judges for a big fight in Nevada is a
relatively easy task.
A list of potential candidates is presented to the commission, the executive director makes his recommendations, and the commission approves the selection. It normally takes all of 30 seconds.
But with a controversial history having shrouded the three previous Las Vegas fights between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, the selection of officials for their fourth meeting on Dec. 8 at the MGM Grand Garden has received heightened interest.
Today's Nevada Athletic Commission meeting agenda includes the selection of officials for the fourth go-round between Pacquiao and Marquez, and both camps are concerned about the use of Nevada judges.
Marquez has demanded that no local judges be used after he has come out on the short end of all three fights, each of which went to the scorecards to determine the outcome. Their first meeting on May 8, 2004, at the MGM ended in a 12-round draw. Their rematch on March 15, 2008, at Mandalay Bay saw Pacquiao awarded a 12-round split decision. Their most recent meeting on Nov 12, 2011, at the Grand Garden saw Pacquiao win a 12-round majority decision.
Pacquiao has had his share of judging controversy outside the Marquez fights. Pacquiao was the loser by split decision against Timothy Bradley Jr. on June 9 in a fight many observers believe he won convincingly. In the wake of what happened against Bradley, Pacquiao said he would like to see someone from outside the state judge this fight.
"Not all the judges from Vegas are bad," Pacquiao said. "But for this fight, we should look at using some judges from outside of Vegas."
Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, who has worked Pacquiao's corner for years, said a fair compromise would be to spread it around.
"They should have one Vegas judge, one American judge and one international judge," Roach said. "That would be fine with us. But I'm not going to lie to you and say I'm not concerned about the judges. I'm very concerned."
To that end, NAC executive director Keith Kizer has carefully vetted the list of candidates he will present to the five-member commission panel this morning. The list includes 11 potential candidates, including Adalaide Byrd, Dick Houck and Ricardo Ocasio from Nevada. Four out-of-state judges are on the list - Gary Merritt of Indiana, Steve Weisfeld of New Jersey, Mike Ross from Florida and John McKaie from New York.
The four international judges under consideration are Stanley Christodoulou from South Africa, John Keane from Great Britain, Jurgen Langos from Germany and Anek Hongkongkam from Thailand.
Who Kizer will recommend remains to be seen. But in the past three Pacquiao-Marquez fights, officials from outside Nevada have been used. In the first meeting, John Stewart of New Jersey and Guy Jutras from Montreal were ringside. In the 2008 rematch, Ohio's Tom Miller was chosen to judge.
Kizer also will avoid using Nevada judges who have worked any of the previous Pacquiao-Marquez fights. That means he didn't consider Dave Moretti, Robert Hoyle and Glenn Trowbridge, who worked the 2011 fight; Jerry Roth and Duane Ford, who worked the 2008 fight; and Burt Clements, who judged the 2004 fight.
In light of the controversy surrounding Pacquiao's loss to Bradley, C.J. Ross was not considered to work Pacquiao-Marquez even though she hadn't worked any of their three previous fights. Ross ruled in favor of Bradley against Pacquiao in June.
"Whenever there's a rematch, ... I try not to use the same judges for two reasons," Kizer said. "One, it makes sense to have a fresh set of eyes. Two, we don't want the fighters worrying about what one judge did in a previous fight."
When the fight was made a couple of months ago, Roach said he was convinced Pacquiao would be behind by three rounds before the opening bell given the controversy of his prior wins over Marquez. He since has backed off on that premise. But Roach remains concerned.
The NAC meeting, which is open to the public, is set for 8 a.m. at the Sawyer Building, West Washington Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. Any discussion or deliberation as well as the vote to approve the officials is done in front of those in attendance.
"It's a totally transparent process," Kizer said. "I've sent the list of possible officials to both fighters, and so far I have not heard from either camp objecting to anyone on the list."
* 50 CENT LICENSE - Also on the agenda for the NAC meeting is the application by rap star 50 Cent for a promoter's license in Nevada. SMS Promotions, which is run by 50 Cent, whose given name is Curtis Jackson, has several fighters under contract, including world featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa, who is fighting on the Pacquiao-Marquez undercard.
"We have all the information that we have requested for Mr. Jackson's application, and it's my understanding he will be at the meeting to answer any questions," Kizer said.
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