Veteran referee Kenny Bayless admits that he was very close to stopping the rematch between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury in the seventh round, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The fight was stopped in the seventh after Wilder's co-trainer, Mark Breland, threw in the towel. Wilder had been down in the third and fifth, and he was bleeding from the mouth and ear.
Fury had controlled the majority of the entire contest and the tide did not appear to be close to turning at the time the contest was waved off.
Bayless reveals that he warned Wilder of a potential stoppage prior to the start of the seventh round.
“It was a good stoppage in my opinion because in the minute’s rest between rounds before the stoppage I went over to Deontay,” Bayless told SiriusXM, according to Express.
“I looked him in the face and I gave him the line that us referees give the fighters to let them know, ‘hey, you’ve gotta show me something.' They know that if you go back out there and you don’t show me something, then I might have to do my job and stop it.
“Deontay is a warrior, when I saw the towel come in out of the corner of my eyes and stopped it, Deontay’s first response was, ‘Why did I stop it?’ Then I let him know it was his corner that stopped it, but I was very close to stopping it.”
Bayless became very concerned when he saw blood pouring out of Wilder's ear, because he initially assumed the boxer's eardrum was busted. He was advised by the ringside doctor that Wilder's eardrum was fine and the blood was coming from a cut.
“I thought that the blood was coming from the inside of the ear. At the end of the round when I went over to check, the doctor was already in the ring while I was picking up the scorecard. The doctor looked at me and said, ‘He’s all right’. So at that point I left it alone," Bayless said.
“It wasn’t until after the fight that the doctor said Deontay wears those things in his earlobes, those rings, apparently that lobe got cut and it was the lobe that was bleeding, not the eardrum.”