Kenny Bayless Interview - The Referee for Manny Pacquiao vs Miguel Cotto Fight on What to Expect, Plus His thoughts on Both fighters and Much More! By David Tyler, DoghouseBoxing (Nov 12, 2009) Doghouse Boxing
Referee Kenny Bayless is considered the best referee this side of the Mississippi. He will be the third man in the ring for the Manny Pacquiao/ Miguel Cotto fight. Let’s welcome him into the doghouse.
David Tyler Hi Kenny, thank you for the interview. How were you chosen to be the referee for the Cotto/ Pacquiao fight?
Kenny Bayless The executive director makes his suggestions on who he feels should be the referee for the main event and then the commissioner’s vote on the decision. They basically have us on a rotation. Depending on how good your work is and how clean it is dictates if you stay in the rotation.
DT Do the fighters or trainers have veto power?
KB The fighters or their camps can express their opinions but that does not necessarily mean that they get who they want. There was a time when the commission would suggest three referees or five judges that they could pick from just to let them play a part in the process, but in the end the final word comes from the commission.
DT Is there any special preparation that you go through prior to such a mega event as the Cotto/ Pacquiao bout?
KB I have been the referee for both of them in the past three or four years. Both fighters have been very clean when they have been in the ring with me. I have never had any problems with Cotto or Pacquiao. But I do watch video from past fights to do my homework. I also stay in shape year round so when I get the call to do an assignment like this it’s not like suddenly I’ve got to got out and start getting ready. I’m ready from fight to fight. The preparation you speak of is what I do for all my fights.
DT You said you were familiar with both of the fighter’s styles, did you watch the Cotto/ Clottey fight in Madison Square Garden?
KB The situation was not ideal for me because I was in the state of New York for the International Hall of Fame Inductions in Canastota. Lennox Lewis and Larry Merchant were being inducted into the hall of fame and I was at a banquet at the time of the fight. I did see the rounds periodically during the fight but I did not get the focus of watching the entire fight.
DT Arthur Mercante Jr. did an outstanding job during the fight especially keeping Clottey focused due to some accidental “rabbit punches”, “body flips”, and low blows by Cotto, are you familiar with these style tactics?
KB I can’t read the fighter’s mind to determine whether the type incidents you refer to are committed on purpose or were they the result of another fighter’s action such as turning his back on an opponent or even turning his head as the punch is being delivered. Maybe the low punches are not intentional and a warning would be delivered.
DT Kenny, you said the preparation was the same for all your fights. Could you provide us with more insight to the preparation?
KB - With a fight of this magnitude the best we can do is cover all of our bases. The night of fight when I climb into the ropes I have to be cautious of everything, for example there could have been seven or eight fights prior to my fight and there could be quite a bit of water in the ring. So when we get in the ring there are several check points that I have to do such as the water situation where the mat is saturated in several places. It’s my job to make both camps aware of the situation. This creates problems for the fighters, the television viewers, and the referee as well because what may appear as a knockdown may be a slip on a wet spot. This is a very high profile fight and many decisions must be made very fast and I don’t have the opportunity to see the instant replay before making a decision.
DT I thought instant replay was in use in Nevada.
KB - In the state of Nevada we do have instant replay for accidental head butts when a cut may be involved.
DT So if you felt it was necessary you would look at the tape?
KB In the event I was not sure if the cut was from a punch or a head butt I would utilize the instant replay. Many times a fighter is punching in flurries and a head butt occurs. This makes it very difficult to determine whether the cut was from a blow or resulted from the head butt. Because of the magnitude of this fight I want every call to be the correct call so if needed I would not hesitate to go to the instant replay to determine the source of the cut. I am aware that literally millions of viewers will be critiquing my work.
DT Kenny, what is your policy about taking away points from fighters?
KB When I meet with the fighters in their respective dressing rooms I go over with them what I do prior to deducting a point if I feel this action is necessary. The referee does not want to be part of the outcome of a decision and this is expressed in the dressing room meetings. But in the event I see a fighter is committing unintentional fouls then I will give him warnings to correct that behavior. If this continues, then I will give him a hard warning. Only if this behavior continues after the hard warning will I start deducting points.
DT Kenny what is your policy about a fighter’s mouthpiece coming out during the round?
KB It depends on where we are in the round. If a fighter’s mouthpiece comes out 2:45 of the round then for the most part we would just let the round end. If it comes out midway during the round, depending on if there is a lull in the action; we would quickly have the mouthpiece replaced. What I am saying is that if the mouthpiece comes out and the pace of the fight is going strong, then we wait for a lull in the action, call time out and take the fighter to his corner and get the corner to replace the mouthpiece. As long as we feel that the fighter is not trying to take advantage of the mouthpiece rule we would not deduct points or take any serious action. I would also like to add that I have never seen Cotto or Pacquiao purposely try and take advantage of the mouthpiece rule.
DT Kenny how many World Championship fights have you been the referee?
KB This will be the 49th world championship fight for me.
DT Do you get the adrenaline rush before the big fight that the fans do?
KB I get excited in a way because the Nevada Athletic Commission picked me for the assignment. It is such a big event. I am excited in a way that I want to present myself in a professional manner as I am representing that decision and want to prove myself worthy of the assignment. Yes there is excitement but as we get closer to fight time, I am entirely focused on what I have to do when the bell sounds.
DT Kenny thank you very much for this informative interview and we all wish you the best for this big mega event, Cotto/ Pacquiao on HBO PPV, November 14th.
KB Dave, thank you. Are you going to be at the fight?
DT Yes, I have a good seat to cover the fight.
KB Make sure and stop by to say hello.
DT I will do that. God Bless.
KB Dave, God bless to you also.
Readers: Kenny Bayless is bringing nothing less than his “A” game for the Cotto/ Pacquiao extravaganza this Saturday. We wish him well.
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