LAS VEGAS – The Nevada State Athletic Commission unanimously approved a veteran panel of officials Wednesday for the Terence Crawford-Shawn Porter welterweight title fight Saturday night.
Bob Bennett, who confirmed his plan to retire as executive director of the NSAC later during the commission’s monthly meeting, recommended California’s Max De Luca, Nevada’s Dave Moretti and New Jersey’s Steve Weisfeld to the five-member NSAC. The commission voted to approve them and the assignment of Nevada’s Celestino Ruiz as the referee for this 12-round fight for Crawford’s WBO 147-pound championship at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino’s Michelob ULTRA Arena.
Moretti and Weisfeld are often chosen to score high-profile, pay-per-view fights in Las Vegas and are commonly considered among the most consistent judges that score boxing in the United States. Their scores typically are similar and rarely differ by more than one round.
They most recently worked the Canelo Alvarez-Caleb Plant super middleweight title unification fight November 6 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Moretti and Weisfeld also were two of the three judges that scored the third WBC heavyweight championship bout between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder on October 9 at T-Mobile Arena.
Moretti, a professional judge since 1977, had Alvarez ahead of Plant, 97-93, before the Mexican superstar knocked out Plant in the 11th round. Four weeks earlier, Fury was in front, 95-91, on Moretti’s scorecard before he viciously knocked out Wilder during the 11th round.
Weisfeld, who has judged pro bouts since 1991, had Alvarez in front, 98-92, through 10 rounds and Fury ahead of Wilder, 95-92, entering the 11th round.
De Luca has a proven track record as a judge since 1999, though he does not draw as many top assignments as Moretti or Weisfeld. In his most recent main event in Nevada, De Luca scored American Mikaela Mayer a 99-91 winner over France’s Maiva Hamadouche in a 10-round, 130-pound women’s championship unification fight that appeared closer than that November 5 at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
The two other judges also scored Mayer a wide winner of their back-and-forth fight, though. Nevada’s Lisa Giampa strangely scored it a shutout for Mayer, 100-90, whereas Nevada’s Tim Cheatham scored eight rounds for the IBF/WBO champ, 98-92.
Ruiz, meanwhile, is the least experienced of the four officials assigned to the Crawford-Porter fight. He has, however, been a pro referee since 2007.
In the most recent main event Ruiz officiated, he stepped between Radzhab Butaev and Jamal James in the ninth round of what had become a one-sided welterweight title fight October 30 at Michelob ULTRA Arena.
James trailed on two scorecards (74-77, 74-77, 76-75) and had taken numerous flush punches from the heavier-handed Butaev. Ruiz previously had deducted a point from Butaev in the fifth round, when he warned the WBA world 147-pound champion for the fifth time for various infractions.
Four months earlier, Ruiz drew some criticism for incessantly warning Shakur Stevenson, a southpaw, and Jeremiah Nakathila, a right-handed boxer, to be aware of the placement of their feet throughout a 12-round, 130-pound title bout June 12 at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs), of Omaha, Nebraska, and Porter (31-3-1, 17 KOs), a Las Vegas resident raised in Akron, Ohio, will headline an ESPN Pay-Per-View show set to start 9 p.m. ET and 6 p.m. PT ($69.99).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.