Robert Byrd has his work cut out for him.
Byrd will be the referee when Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor step into the ring for their highly anticipated boxing match on Aug. 26, and the veteran official might have one of the toughest jobs in sports ahead of him. Every move by either boxer will be put under a microscope, and rest assured somebody, somewhere will cry foul about the officiating before it’s all said and done.
In fact, it’s already started, with Mayweather saying he anticipates McGregor to fight “extremely dirty” — and putting the onus on Byrd to control it.
“I truly believe (Byrd) is going to do his job,” Mayweather told reporters Thursday in a conference call. “His job is to keep the bout clean. … I look forward to following the Queensberry rules of boxing. (McGregor) had (veteran official) Joe Cortez in his training camp, but I still see him being extremely dirty.
“But my job is not to referee the fight. I am going to do my job. I am not worried about the outcome, I am more worried about excitement.”
The UFC superstar is contractually prohibited from employing mixed martial arts techniques, but it doesn’t take an MMA background to utilize dirty boxing tactics. Mayweather sounds more concerned with these types of shots than with UFC-style kicks and takedowns, which would blatantly be outside the rules of boxing.
“I see a lot of rabbit punches behind the head, grappling, wrestling, illegal shots,” Mayweather said, via USA TODAY. “But the ref will be fair on both sides. I want him to be even. I want us to have a good, solid fight.”
Honestly, it’s unrealistic to expect McGregor to jeopardize the most lucrative paycheck of his career by suddenly turning the boxing ring at the T-Mobile Arena into the Octagon. But both fighters want to win, and it’s never a surprise to see pugilists stretch the rules — if not outright break them.
Good luck, Robert.
Thumbnail photo via Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports Images