By Keith Idec
Floyd Mayweather Jr. has no issue whatsoever with referee Robert Byrd officiating his fight against Conor McGregor.
He didn’t sound as certain Thursday that he believes McGregor will work within the confines of boxing’s rules when they fight August 26 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. In just the brief footage Mayweather watched from the UFC superstar’s sparring sessions against Paulie Malignaggi, he noticed McGregor continuously breaking the rules.
Byrd is a veteran referee who has worked numerous high-profile fights. He is not known, however, for being physical about breaking up action once it gets rough.
Mayweather still expressed confidence during a conference call that Byrd will keep their 12-round, 154-pound fight, McGregor’s boxing debut, as clean as possible.
“I truly believe the ref’s gonna do his job,” Mayweather said. “The referee’s job is to make sure the fighters are keeping the bout clean. And I want us to put on a hell of a fight. Like I said on numerous occasions building up to this fight, I’m coming straight ahead. So he don’t have nothing to worry about. I look forward to following the Queensbury rules of boxing, and I’m pretty sure he looks forward to following the Queensbury rules of boxing.”
The 29-year-old McGregor has had retired referee Joe Cortez officiating sparring sessions throughout training camp, so he could become accustomed to boxing’s rules. Mayweather commended McGregor for taking that step, but he’s not convinced it has made much of a difference.
“He had Joe Cortez in his training camp, which is a great thing,” Mayweather said. “Even though he had Joe Cortez in his training camp, I still seen him doing – being extremely dirty. But my job is not to worry about the referee. My job is to go out there and fight, and let the referee do his job.”
Mayweather isn’t particularly concerned with McGregor attempting anything resembling an MMA move during their bout because McGregor would face a huge financial penalty based on language in their contracts, as well as a lawsuit. But McGregor is expected to try to make their fight as rough and physical as possible because Mayweather has such superior boxing ability.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.