LOS ANGELES – Jack Reiss will be in control of keeping things clean for this weekend’s bantamweight title fight.
The veteran ring official will serve as referee for the Showtime-televised main event this Saturday, which airs live from Dignity Health Sports Park. The bout pits France’s Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12KOs) in the third defense of his WBC bantamweight title versus former four-division champion Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26KOs).
Reiss is part of a four-person officiating crew all hailing from North America. The three judges assigned to the contest are Pat Russell (California), Alejandro Rochin (Mexico/California) and Glenn Feldman (Connecticut).
The four officials represent a relatively fresh set of eyes for both participants. Reiss—for all of his years of experience as one of the most recognized referees in the sport—has never previously worked a fight featuring Oubaali or Donaire.
Judge Rochin has worked just one previous bout featuring France’s Oubaali—his last contest, when the two-time Olympian successfully defended his bantamweight title in a 12-round decision victory over Japan’s Takuma Inoue. Rochin drew criticism for his scorecard, having Oubbali winning all 12 rounds in awarding a 120-107 verdict. Judges David Sutherland (117-110) and Jun Bae Lim (115-112) turned in scorecards more in line with the competitive but clear victory in favor of the defending champ.
The most recent major title fight featuring Rochin—a 29-year veteran in the sport—as a judge came last Halloween, when Gervonta Davis flattened Leo Santa Cruz in the 6th round of their Showtime Pay-Per-View headliner at Alamodome in San Antonio. Rochin was among the three-judge panel who had Davis ahead 48-47 at the time of the stoppage. Among that crew was judge Feldman, also a 29-year veteran official though Saturday marking his first time assigned to a fight featuring either of the main event participants.
Judge Russell has worked just one fight previously featuring Donaire. His services were not required that night, as Donaire scored a 4th round stoppage of former bantamweight champion Vladimir Sidirenko way back in Dec. 2010. Donaire went on to capture the WBC/WBO bantamweight titles in his next fight in a sensational 2nd round knockout of exiting champ Fernando Montiel in Feb. 2011.
The feat established Donaire as a two-division champion, having since captured titles at junior featherweight (twice) and featherweight before dropping back down to bantamweight for a second title reign.
The evening’s chief support pits Puerto Rico’s Subriel Matias (16-1, 16KOs) and Kazakhstan’s Batyr Jukembayev (18-0, 14KOs) in a 12-round IBF title eliminator. The referee for the contest is the well-respected Ray Corona (California), while the three assigned judges are Tom Carusone (Connecticut), Zachary Young (California) and Robert Hoyle (Nevada).
Opening the televised tripleheader, 2016 U.S. Olympian and rising junior welterweight Gary Antuanne Russell (13-0, 13KOs) of Capitol Heights, Maryland faces Bayamon, Puerto Rico’s Jovanie Santiago (14-1-1, 10KOs) in a scheduled 10-round affair. Sharon Sands (California) will serve as referee, joining an all-California officiating crew featuring judges Jerry Cantu, Carla Caiz and Dr. Lou Moret scoring the contest in the event their services are required; Russell has yet to go the distance, or for any opponent to have extended him beyond the 4th round.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox