The Nevada State Athletic Commission is to draw up a list of potential referees and judges for the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury heavyweight title match to ensure that both boxers have no objections to any of the officials on duty on the night.
Wilder and Fury clash at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on February 22 for Wilder’s WBC heavyweight title. Their first clash, in Los Angeles, ended in a draw, a result that was bitterly disputed by Fury’s team. Early on in the negotiations Fury’s team said they did not want to return to California and, with Nevada judges having come in for criticism in recent years, there was a move to ensure fair play.
According to Bob Arum, the show’s co-promoter, the Nevada commission have agreed to supply a list of at least three possible referees and 10-12 judges to both camps. They will then be allowed to strike off any names they are unhappy with.
“Bob Bennett [the NSAC executive director] promised me everybody will be satisfied,” Arum said. “The truth is, unlike what happened last time, the judges here are not going to matter. If it goes to a decision, Fury wins the fight. If it goes to a knockout, the judges don’t matter.”
While the referee will be from Nevada, the judging panel will be neutral – there will either be one judge from the United States, one from the UK and one from elsewhere, or all three judges could come from neutral territories.
“We don’t necessarily want a British judge,” Frank Warren, Fury’s promoter, said. “It was the British judge that scored the last one a draw.”
Phil Edwards was the UK judge who scored the original fight a draw (113-113), Robert Tapper, a Canadian, made Fury the winner (114-112), while Alejandro Rochin, originally from Canada but now based in California, made Wilder the winner (115-111).
Jack Reiss, the American referee for the first fight, was criticised by some for giving Fury extra time to recover from his final round knockdown.