LAS VEGAS: Respected fight official Joe Cortez on Friday warned referee Kenny Bayless to keep his eye on Floyd Mayweather’s elbows when he clashes with Manny Pacquiao.
Puerto Rico’s Cortez has refereed more than 170 world title fights, four of them involving Mayweather.
He said Bayless will need to be on guard if Mayweather resorts to raising his elbows, to make sure Pacquiao doesn’t suffer a cut.
“Floyd is not a dirty fighter by nature,” Cortez told AFP. “But when an opponent begins to get to his head from in front, he will raise his elbows to defend himself.
“Kenny Bayless must be very careful that when Floyd raises his elbow he doesn’t cut Pacquiao and force the bout to be stopped and Mayweather disqualified.
“That would be disastrous,” Cortez noted, in a bout that has garnered worldwide attention.
Visiting the press tent Friday, Cortez was mobbed by reporters wanting his opinion on how the fight would unfold.
The 70-year-old Hall-of-Famer said he remembers the four Mayweather fights he worked well, and thinks the 47-0 American is one of boxing’s best counter-punchers.
“He is clearly one of the best stylists in the ring, with great defense and intelligence. It will not be easy for Manny to solve his style.”
Bayless knows both Mayweather and Pacquiao well.
He has refereed seven of the Filipino’s fights — including bouts against Shane Mosley, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto and Juan Manuel Marquez — and five Mayweather fights.
Bayless refereed Mayweather’s first professional fight, on October 11, 1996 against Mexico’s Roberto Apodaca.
The 64-year-old has been a professional referee for 24 years, with more than 100 title bouts on his resume.
He’s also a physical education instructor and former boxer.
Although Oscar de la Hoya said Bayless “always favors Mayweather,” Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach was happy with his appointment.
“Bayless is now the best in the business.” Roach said.
Roach also approved the appointment of Burt Clements, Dave Moretti and Glenn Feldman as judges.
“I think we have the best judges and Kenny Bayless is the best referee here, and that guarantees a fair fight,” Roach said.
Mayweather is a slight favorite, but Pacquiao is the people’s choice according to the money being wagered on the Filipino icon ahead of today’s welterweight showdown.
Jay Rood, vice president of race and sports books at MGM Resorts International, said that some two thirds of the bets placed at MGM sports books have so far been for Pacquiao.
That included one $500,000 wager on the World Boxing Organization champ, who will bring a record of 57-5 with two drawn and 38 knockouts to the fight.
“Hopefully by this evening we’ll have taken a million-dollar bet on Mayweather,” Rood said. “We’re trying to get that hooked up now.”
While Nevada’s legal sports books are taking some big wagers on Mayweather, the money coming in from Pacquiao believers have narrowed the odds to about 2-1.
“We took quite a bit of money yesterday, well over seven figures, and 60 percent of it was to Pacquiao,” Rood said Thursday.
“Public opinion is definitely Manny Pacquiao.”
The high-profile bout is a lock to break a bevy of records for boxing revenue, and Rood expects it to generate the highest handle for any fight in Nevada state history, with the total money wagered statewide coming in “somewhere between $60 million and $80 million.”
Most of that will be bet at sports books on the Las Vegas “Strip” where tourists and fans are flocking to soak up the fight week atmosphere even if they don’t have tickets to the bout.
“The further away you get from The Strip, the less financial impact it’s going to have on the sports books,” Rood said. “I think the handle on The Strip could be astronomical.”
MGM Resorts has 47-0 Mayweather listed as a minus-200 favorite, meaning one must bet $200 to win $100, with Pacquiao a plus-170 underdog, or a bet of $100 to win $170.
“It’s a great price for either one of these fighters,” Rood said, a fact that has encouraged “really good two-way action”.
However, he said many of the bettors on this fight won’t necessarily be shopping for an attractive price.
While boxing doesn’t lend itself to the many proposition bets bookmakers offer for the NFL’s Super Bowl — a betting behemoth that spawned $116 million in wagering in Nevada this year — Rood said MGM sports books are offering a “little bit broader menu” of wagers to appeal to casual bettors.
“We’ve put up the five pack: the one fighter by decision or KO, the other fighter by decision or KO and the draw,” he said, adding that MGM books also offer “over and under” bets for the fight to go seven full rounds, nine full rounds and to go the distance.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of people who have maybe never been to a boxing match, have never bet a boxing match — they may be doing both this weekend, “ Rood said. “And they may never do it again.”