By Chris Robinson
On Thursday, it was revealed that respected Las Vegas referee Kenny Bayless would be the third man in the ring for the fourth encounter between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez.
Having fought three life and death battles with one another over the past eight years, Pacquiao and Marquez will engage in what will likely be their last encounter on Dec. 8 inside of the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Bayless is one of the most respected officials in the sport and getting the call to oversee such a significant fight is something he doesn't take lightly.
“I’m always honored to get an assignment like this,” Bayless told me on Friday afternoon. “I’m always thankful that I was chosen and I always thank [Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director] Keith Kizer and the commission. After 36 rounds of seeing these guys tangle, I think it’s going to just add to what they’ve done in the past. They’ve fought three great fights and I see the fourth fight being pretty similar to the last three.”
Of course, this is nothing new for Bayless, who has been the referee of several high-profile encounters, including the second Pacquiao-Marquez affair that took place in March of 2008 inside of the Mandalay Bay.
Pacquiao would pull out a split-decision over Marquez on that night, with his knockdown in the third round helping to secure a 114-113 edge on Tom Miller’s card. The other two tallies read 115-112, with judge Duane Ford favoring Pacquiao while Jerry Roth sided with Marquez.
Bayless remembers it as if it were yesterday.
“It was an electrifying night,” Bayless recalled. “The fight was a very close fight, just like they’ve all been; I do remember Marquez going down in the fight. I knew he was going to get up, because, in the first fight, he went down three times in the first round. I just knew that he was going to get up and Marquez has a lot of heart and he’s a warrior.
“And I knew that it was going to take more than one knockdown, at least,” Bayless continued. “My attitude was that he was getting up and that it was going to take a whole lot more than just one knockdown to slow him down or even stop him.”
One of the straightest shooters you will meet in boxing, you will always be hard-pressed to find any kind of favoritism coming from Bayless towards any fighter in any bout he is a part of.
The only thing the Berkeley, Calif. native can get excited about it what lies ahead.
“This is such a good matchup because both of them are warriors,” Bayless stated. “They both come to fight. Manny Pacquiao, you don’t have to look for him in the ring, he’s going to be right in front of you. And the same thing goes for Marquez; he’s going to be standing right in front of you.”