By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Veteran referee Robert Byrd will be the third man in the ring when WBO light flyweight champion Donnie Nietes makes the fourth defense of his title against mandatory challenger and Interim champion Moises Fuentes of Mexico at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday.
WBO president Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel announced the appointment of California-based Byrd as well as judge Robert Hoyle of Nevada and female judge Waleska Roldan of New York with Spain’s Fernando Laguna-Yanes the third judge for the Nietes-Fuentes title fight.
The WBO fight supervisor will be the organization’s hardworking vice president for the Asia-Pacific region, Leon Panoncillo.
The fight will headline the tremendously successful Pinoy Pride series 25th edition which is a joint undertaking of the giant broadcast network ABS-CBN and ALA Promotions which will also have Mexico’s Zanfer Promotions of Fernando Beltran as a partner in the presentation.
Nietes who has a record of 32-1-4 with 18 knockouts and Fuentes whose record is an impressive 19-1-1 with 10 knockouts fought to a standstill in their first encounter on March 2, 2013 with the bout ending in a majority draw which enabled Nietes to retain his title.
Two American judges, Adalaide Byrd, wife of referee Robert Byrd and Pat Russel both scored the fight a 114-114 draw while Filipino judge Danrex Tapdasan had Nietes the winner 115-113.
Byrd spent some 34 years with the California Highway Patrol before retiring and moving to Nevada.
Byrd fought as an amateur during his military service and was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in the “Expanded Category” in 2006.
Byrd has refereed several big fights and in his last assignment on April 23 stopped the IBF super bantamweight title fight and declared Kiko Martinez winner by a 7th round TKO over Japan’s Hozumi Hasegawa.
He was also the referee when Timothy Bradley won a twelve round split decision over Juan Manuel Marquez to retain his WBO welterweight title which he won via a internationally condemned split decision from “Fighter of the Decade” Manny Pacquiao on June 9, 2012.
Hoyle who was a judge in the Martinez-Hasegawa fight had it even at 56-56 with Carlos Ortiz Jr when the stoppage occurred. Hoyle was also a judge when former WBO/WBA flyweight champion Brian Viloria beat Juan Herrera last March 29 and scored the fight 98-92 for Viloria.
Roldan’s last assignment was as a judge in a six round bout in whuch Ievgen Khytrov scored a 2nd round TKO over Jas Phipps and had no assignments for this year in world title fights although she was a judge in the WBO middleweight title fight in which Peter Quillin won by a 10th round TKO over Gabriel Rosado.
Roldan had Quillin comfortably ahead 89-81 when the fight was stopped.