By Francis Ochoa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Nevada State Athletic Commission appointed Kenny Bayless the referee for the Nov. 14 bout between Filipino ring icon Manny Pacquiao and reigning WBO welterweight champion Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The match could be the biggest money-earning venture of Pacquiao, with the reigning lightweight king expected to earn more than $12 million as he guns for Cotto’s belt in a bid to become the first boxer to win titles—including linear ones—in seven different weight classes.
With HBO selling pay-per-views at $54.95 and Top Rank chief Bob Arum earlier predicting that the bout, dubbed “Firepower,” will exceed 850,000 buys brought in by Pacquiao’s destruction of Briton Ricky Hatton earlier this year, Pacquiao is looking at the biggest paycheck in his career.
Bayless’ appointment, meanwhile, ends apprehensions within Team Pacquiao that Joe Cortez had the inside track on the super fight. Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach had earlier said he was hoping Cortez wouldn’t land the job in the bout dubbed “Firepower” because he is Puerto Rican like Cotto.
Bayless had worked three previous Pacquiao fights—all of them victories. The Nevada native was the third man in the ring when Pacquiao knocked out Erik Morales in 10 rounds in 2006. He also officiated Pacquiao’s close win over Juan Manuel Marquez in their second bout in 2007 and was the referee when the Filipino sensation knocked Hatton out cold last May.
The NSAC also appointed Dave Moretti, Adelaide Byrd and Duane Ford as judges.
Meanwhile, in Baguio City, Roach has increased the boxer’s sparring schedule to nine rounds.
Among those who joined Pacquiao here on Saturday for his fans’ day was 8-year-old Arjean Cadias, who is suffering from cancer.
Cadias had a brief chat with Pacquiao, who later signed the boy’s slum book.
Arum had earlier told Yahoo! Sports that he expected the Pacman to earn more from PPV buys than he did against Hatton because “I think Cotto, as a great Puerto Rican fighter, brings a larger fan base to the US.”
Pacquiao is also getting a bigger split of the pie against Cotto, with reports pegging the percentage as high as 65-35. Pacquiao and Hatton went 50-50 during their bout.
The Pacquiao-Cotto PPV buys are going to be crucial bargaining chips when the Filipino’s camp negotiates for a fight against undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr., according to Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer.
Schaefer told Boxingscene.com that “if Pacquiao-Cotto sells the same amount of homes or more (as Mayweather-Marquez) then we’ll have things to discuss.”
Mayweather defeated Juan Manuel Marquez last September and was credited as the main draw that resulted in 1 million PPV buys that generated $52 million in PPV revenues. With a report from Frank Cimatu, Inquirer Northern Luzon