Robert Byrd to referee Ward-Kovalev
Referee Robert Byrd will have the task of maintaining control of the light heavyweight championship between Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena on HBO PPV.
Byrd was scheduled to handle refereeing duties for Manny Pacquiao’s April bout with Timothy Bradley but withdrew because of an undisclosed medical condition. Tony Weeks got the assignment instead. Byrd has since handled seven fights, including Oleksandr Usyk’s win against Krzysztof Glowacki for a cruiserweight title on Sept. 17.
The selection holds particular significance because Ward is known to work on the inside, where he’s adept at leaning on his opponent and firing off shots. He dips his head, uses his elbows and doesn’t mind clinching if it’s to his advantage.
Byrd, who is based in Vegas and will be paid $3,600, is generally regarded as a ref who doesn’t meddle too much and gives boxers wide latitude, often standing off to the side, keeping a respectful distance, which would seem to favor Ward. Rather than physically getting involved, Byrd often uses his voice to break the fighters apart. Byrd handled Canelo Alvarez’s bout against Miguel Cotto last November and was hardly visible on the HBO telecast.
The veteran referee was named the bout’s third man at a Nevada State Athletic Commission hearing on Thursday, along with the fight’s three judges: Glenn Trowbridge and Burt Clements, who are both from Nevada, and John McKaie of New York. The judges will be paid $2,500 for the assignment.
Clements vaulted to national attention when he miscalculated the first round of Pacquiao’s draw with Juan Manuel Marquez in 2004, scoring it 10-7 instead of 10-6 because of Pacquiao’s three knockdowns. The point difference would have given Pacquiao a split-decision win.
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