LAS VEGAS — There was no traditional face-off at the end of Friday’s weigh-in for Saturday’s WBC heavyweight championship rematch between champion Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury. The Nevada Athletic Commission decided against it after the two fighters exchanged shoves and verbal taunts during Wednesday’s press conference at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Bob Bennett, the executive director of the commission, nixed the face-off to avoid the kind of trouble that would put the highly anticipated pay-per-view bout in jeopardy.
“What about the fans that purchased their tickets, bought airline tickets, have hotel reservations and spent a considerable amount of money to see this world-class fight?” Bennett told The Post on Friday. “It’s the commission’s job to have good judgment and look out for the safety of the fighters, the safety of the public and the safety of the fans.”
After Fury weighed in at a heavy 273 pounds and Wilder at 231, the two combatants stood about 12 feet apart from each other and began jawing about what was going to happen Saturday night. There were no incidents.
You can’t blame Bennett for being careful. He has seen press conferences and weigh-ins for boxing and MMA turn into melees before. What he saw during the press conference on Wednesday was enough to avoid more trouble. He called both camps on Thursday and informed them he was nixing the face-off at the weigh-in.
“We’re going to look out for the event so we can bring this to the finish line,” said Bennett, a former Marine and FBI agent. “We want to be proactive instead of reactive. What happens if someone twists an ankle or suffers a cut? We don’t want a delay in this fight.”
Not having a face-off shouldn’t matter. The heated exchange on Wednesday got plenty of play on television and social media. Another face-to-face photo hardly would add to the hype. About 6,000 mostly Fury fans packed the weigh-in.
“This is the commission doing its job,” Bennett said. “That’s what we’re paid to do.”
Bennett said he is confident the judges and referee assigned to the fight will do a credible job. They are among the best in the business. The judges will be: Glenn Feldman from Connecticut; Dave Moretti from Nevada and Steve Weisfeld from New Jersey. The referee will be Kenny Bayless.
The Englishman Fury had no problem with three American judges.
“My marching orders is to have the best officials for every fight,” Bennett said. “I don’t care where they come from. Just give me the best officials and that’s what we try to do.”
The judges in the first fight were Alejandro Rochin from Mexico, who saw it 115-111 for Wilder; Canada’s Robert Tapper, who had it 114-112 for Fury and Phil Edwards from Britain, who saw it a 113-113 draw.