LAS VEGAS – Bob Arum doesn’t understand why the Nevada State Athletic Commission appointed three American judges and an American referee to work a lightweight title fight between an American champion and a Ukrainian challenger on Saturday night.
Arum also couldn’t explain the NSAC’s rationale for assigning veteran Nevada judge Dave Moretti to score the Devin Haney-Vasiliy Lomachenko fight after Lomachenko’s team objected when Moretti’s name was included in the pool of potential officials submitted to both camps in the weeks before their bout. The 91-year-old promoter was asked after Haney’s debatable 12-round, unanimous-decision victory over Lomachenko about the need for a new crop of judges in part because Moretti scored Haney a wider winner, 116-112, than judges Tim Cheatham and David Sutherland, both of whom scored their fight 115-113 for Haney.
“That’s a question that should be asked of the commission,” Arum said during their post-fight press conference. “They appoint the judges. When one side objects to a judge, they generally change them. In this case, they wouldn’t change them. It seems sort of strange to me when you have an American fighting a Ukrainian and all officials are American. I mean, it doesn’t happen that way any other place in the world. But again, that’s not my pay grade. I’m a promoter and the commission runs things in Nevada.”
The referee for Haney-Lomachenko was New Jersey’s Harvey Dock.
Arum’s company, Top Rank Inc., is Lomachenko’s longtime promoter. Haney’s three-fight co-promotional contract with Top Rank and DiBella Entertainment expired after his ESPN Pay-Per-View main event versus Lomachenko.
Egis Klimas, Lomachenko’s manager, disclosed during the press conference that he didn’t want Moretti to work the fight.
“I was the first [who] protested Dave Moretti to have as a judge,” Klimas said. “And we protested that to [the] commission. And the commissioner told [me] he is one of my best judges. And that [was disproved] today again.”
The NSAC voted in favor of the suggestion of its executive director, Jeff Mullen, to appoint Nevada’s Cheatham, Nevada’s Moretti and Oklahoma’s Sutherland as the judges for Haney-Lomachenko at its monthly meeting May 17. As Arum mentioned, state and tribal commissions in the United States usually remove a judge or referee from pools of possible officials if one camp has a problem with him or her working a fight.
Klimas intends to file a protest with the NSAC due to the scoring, but he acknowledged that it probably won’t impact the official result.
It is also customary, as Arum pointed out, in countries outside of the United States to assign what’s perceived as a balanced panel of judges to a title fight in one boxer’s home country. For instance, when England’s Anthony Joshua defended his IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles against Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk, the British Boxing Board of Control appointed a Ukrainian judge, Viktor Fesechko, a British judge, Howard Foster, and an American judge, Steve Weisfeld, to score their 12-round bout in September 2021 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
The BBBofC also assigned a British referee, Michael Alexander, to officiate the first Joshua-Usyk fight.
Haney (30-0, 15 KOs) resides in Henderson, Nevada, a suburb of Las Vegas, where he and Lomachenko fought for Haney’s IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO 135-pound championships. Lomachenko (17-3, 11 KOs) trains in Oxnard, California, but the three-division champion resides in his native Ukraine.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.