LAS VEGAS — There was a collective eye roll among members of Daniel Jacobs’ team as he was asked for roughly the 2,500th time about his loss in a WBO middleweight title fight in 2010 to Dmitry Pirog.
Jacobs and his team are sick of hearing about the Pirog fight, because they’re asked about it so often.
This time, however, the re-telling of the story in which he fought days after his grandmother’s death and wasn’t mentally prepared to compete yielded some compelling new information instead of simply a rehash of one of the worst weeks of Jacobs’ young life.
Jacobs has long contended he could have gotten up and continued to fight, and reiterated this week as he was promoting his middleweight title unification bout with Canelo Alvarez at T-Mobile Arena that he tried to get up but that referee Robert Byrd pushed him back down. Jacobs was leading in the fight when he was dropped by Pirog. Jacobs and trainer Andre Rozier still believe nearly nine years later that he could have gotten up.
“Never in my life have I seen a referee push a fighter down at the count of four or five,” Jacobs said. “It was a world title opportunity and I felt I needed to be handled with a different type of care. Give me the opportunity to go to 10 to where I was knocked out, not make the judgment call for me. I was very conscious, even on the floor. I was thinking in my mind, ‘Take your time.’ Yeah, it was a great shot. I saw the stars, and everything you see when you get clipped. But I was breathing and I was going to get up. Just like Tyson Fury and The Undertaker [when he was knocked down in the 12th round by Deontay Wilder], I was going to get up like The Undertaker and show them I was ready for battle.
“But he made the judgment call for me. All I can do is look at it as a learning experience. If I were the referee, especially in a fight of that magnitude, I would have given him the count, and given him the opportunity, to see if he could continue.”
Jacobs said “I’m past that and I don’t hold him accountable for it,” but he’s still no fan of Byrd, who has been one of the game’s elite referees for many years.
But what bothers Jacobs most about Byrd is an incident he said occurred at a Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame dinner several years ago.
“What really baffles me besides the fact that he stopped the fight is that I saw Robert Byrd out here two or three years ago and we spoke, well, not really spoke, but said hello,” Jacobs said. “He sent someone to my table with a picture of me laying on the ground and asked me to sign the picture for him with him waving the fight off.
“To me, that was like adding insult to injury. He couldn’t do it himself. He had to send someone over to ask me to sign a picture of me laying on the canvas. It’s like, what fighter would do that, let alone the referee who made the judgment call? I thought it was so disrespectful and I was so disappointed in him for doing that.”
When the Nevada Athletic Commission put Byrd on the list of potential referees for Saturday’s bout, Jacobs’ team objected. And it also objected to Byrd’s wife, Adalaide, being one of the judges for the fight. Their complaint with Adalaide Byrd stemmed from her scorecard that favored Alvarez 10 rounds to two in his first fight with Gennadiy Golovkin, where most people thought Golovkin won 7-5 or 8-4.
The Nevada commission instead appointed Tony Weeks as the referee and Steve Weisfeld, Glenn Feldman and Dave Moretti as the judges.
“I’m very comfortable with the judges that we have, so there’s no controversy with that,” Jacobs said. “I’m happy with the referee that we have, so for me, it’s ultimately up to me to go inside that ring and do my job.”
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