Here is what you need to know about ‘the man in charge of the action’:
1. Bayless Landed the Gig of a Lifetime
Despite having been the third man in the ring for legendary matchups like Oscar de la Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao vs. Miguel Cotto, and the Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley rematch– getting the nod from the Nevada Athletic Commission to officiate tonight’s “Fight of the Century” will likely go down as referee Kenny Bayless’ biggest achievement in his career.
The 64-year-old father of three, Bayless has been a professional boxing referee since 1991 and is one of the most respected officials in the sport today.
2. Bayless’ Famous Catchphrase: ‘What I Say You Must Obey’
Bayless must have said it hundreds of times by now, and we never get tired of hearing it. After giving his instructions to the fighters in the middle the ring– and before instructing them to touch gloves and return to their corners– Bayless reminds the boxers: “What I Say You Must Obey.”
It’s no ‘Let’s Get Ready to Rumble,’ but in boxing circles, that phrase gets the blood boiling and ready for battle.
“My middle son, back when I first got started, kept saying ‘Dad, dad, you gotta get a saying.’ And that kinda wasn’t my thing,” Bayless tells in the HBO special Cornered: Kenny Bayless. “Well, he came up with ‘Well, why don’t you say what I say you must obey?’ So, that happens to be my catchphrase.”
Watch this excellent special on Bayless from HBO:
3. His Appointment as Referee for Tonight’s Fight Works in Mayweather’s Favor
Bayless is no stranger to Mayweather or Pacquiao fights. Tonight’s bout will be Kenny’s fifth contest with Mayweather, and his sixth with Pacquiao.
“I think we have a great referee,” Pacquiao’s trainer Roach said after the appointment of Bayless for the megafight. “I think we have some good judges, people that I’m familiar with my whole life. I think they’ll give us a fair call, and I trust this will happen.”
But some observers who have criticized Bayless’ work in the recent Mayweather-Maidana rematch, citing that his officiating penalized Maidana’s aggressive boxing style and favored Floyd, fear the same thing will happen tonight when Pacquiao tries to rough up Pretty Boy.
“He’s always been fair to me, and I expect a fair fight,” Roach said. ”I thought he was the best referee for the job.”
4. Bayless Will Earn $25,000 for Officiating Tonight
Bayless will making $25,000 for his services, while the three ringside judges will earn $20,000 each. Not too shabby for 48 minutes forth of work an the best seats in the house!
5. Bayless is a Cancer Survivor, He Has a Twin Brother, and is a Man of Deep Faith
Berkeley, California native Kenny Bayless faced the challenge of his life when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2003. From his website:
“With the help of his wife, a nutrition coach and health educator, he fought back hard and began to ‘obey’ what the Bible had to say concerning diet, health and healing. He made a complete recovery.”
Kenny, who has a twin brother, Kermit, has a Bachelor degree in Kinesiology of Physical Education from Cal State Hayward and a Master degree in Education Administration from UNLV.
Watch Kenny talk about what it takes to be a pro ref: