Safety Baylessí priority in Pacman-Marquez bout

By Joaquin Henson Updated Friday December 28, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Referee Kenny Bayless said the other day the first thing that entered his mind after stopping the recent Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight with a second left in the sixth round was the Filipino fighter’s safety.

Bayless didn’t bother to count as Pacquiao went down, face first, from a right to the chin and lay motionless. Pacquiao was on the attack when Marquez, his back against the ropes, countered with a right as the Filipino momentarily dropped his guard to create momentum for a left hook. Marquez timed the punch perfectly and caught Pacquiao moving in with the Mexican stepping on the Filipino’s foot.

“After I stopped the fight, the first thing that went through my mind was Manny’s safety and would he be all right,” said Bayless who worked his sixth Pacquiao bout after the Erik Morales rematch, the second Marquez bout, the Ricky Hatton demolition, the Miguel Cotto stoppage and the Sugar Shane Mosley thrashing. “I was not surprised at the pace of the fight and how ferociously they were fighting. Both Pacquiao and Marquez had made statements that they were going to knock the other guy out.”

Bayless, 62, made his professional debut as a referee in 1991 and has worked over 50 world title fights. He was an All-America track star in the 400-meter relay at California State-Hayward during his varsity years. Bayless taught physical education and health for 29 years at William Orr Middle School before becoming an inspector with the Nevada State Athletic Commission then a professional boxing referee. He survived prostate cancer without undergoing an operation, chemotherapy or radiation, relying only on eating healthy food with advice from his wife Lynora, a nutritionist.   

In an e-mail to The Star, Bayless said probably the closest ending to Marquez’ knockout over Pacquiao in a fight where he worked was when the Filipino stopped Hatton in the second round in 2009. 

Bayless admitted he was concerned about Marquez’ condition in the fifth round. “Manny was starting to take control,” he said. “I was concerned about Marquez because he began bleeding from the nose and it appeared that the nose was broken. I checked on Marquez in between rounds and the fight doctor let it continue.”

Asked about Marquez losing his mouthpiece in the sixth round, Bayless explained he will only allow it to be put back in if action slows down. Stepping in to interrupt an exchange may cause an advantage or disadvantage. “If a fighter’s mouthpiece gets knocked out of his mouth, the referee has to wait until the action slows down and find the right time to put the mouthpiece back in,” he said. “If a fighter decides to spit out his mouthpiece, points may be deducted.” It’s possible that Marquez spat out his gumshield to breathe from the mouth because his breathing was impaired by his broken nose.

Regarding Pacquiao’s knockdown in the third round, Bayless said it looked like the Filipino was shocked by Marquez’ power. In three previous fights, Marquez had never floored Pacquiao despite landing solid shots. But in their fourth meeting, Marquez had bulked up considerably and his new-found power was evident when he decked Pacquiao with a looping haymaker from long range in the third stanza.

“When Manny got knocked down in the third, he looked to be shocked that it happened but Manny got back up and continued to fight,” said Bayless. “I had not thought of stopping the fight at that time.”

Bayless said he spoke to neither fighter after the bout. He hurriedly took a flight out of Las Vegas that night to join his wife Lynora on vacation in Puerto Rico.

Bayless said the end came suddenly. “They were mixing it up pretty good in that round and I felt Pacquiao was very confident in what he was doing,” said Bayless, quoted by writer Lem Satterfield on “I actually heard the 10-second clapper so I knew the round was coming to an end. I didn’t count at all. I didn’t even pick up the count. I first looked to check him out and to see what his condition was. When I saw his face on the canvas and he was making no effort to try to get up, that’s when I stopped it. I had seen enough. I could just look at him and see that. I even kind of leaned through the ropes so I could get a better view of him and I could see that he was making no attempt to get up. Pacquiao’s eyes were kind of glassy, if I recall. Kind of glassy. But I could only see one eye because his face was sideways on the canvas. Pacquiao really took a hard fall. His cornermen got into the ring but it was time to allow the doctors to do their job. Once we got the corner guys to stay back, I left the corner. I guess that he might have been down for about two minutes.”

Bayless told Satterfield that Pacquiao controlled the pace in the first two rounds then he was jolted in the third. “I thought Pacquiao started to gain control back in the fifth,” he said. “When Pacquiao caught Marquez with that shot and his glove touched the ground, I had to rule a knockdown. But Pacquiao, it was his movement that, to me, was right on. He was throwing punches and avoiding punches up until that sixth round. When the bell rang for the first round, I could actually see that it wasn’t going to go the distance because they were throwing hard punches.”


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