Veteran ref upbeat heading into surgery

Kevin Iole

Jay Nady, long one of the top referees in the world, will undergo heart bypass surgery on Friday in Las Vegas, though the 64-year-old former boxer expects to be back officiating in four months.

Nady has been battling health issues since he underwent knee replacement surgery in Phoenix on his left knee on Jan. 18. He suffered complications during the surgery and was briefly slurring his speech, causing concern that he had had a stroke after he had developed blood clots.

But during the follow-up examinations, doctors discovered blockages in the arteries leading to Nady's heart, necessitating the bypass surgery.

"I guess that was pretty fortunate that they were able to discover that and that we could get to work on the problem," Nady said by telephone last week from his hospital bed.

Nady, 64, has been one of the top referees in boxing over the last several decades and has worked fights involving most of the major superstars of the last 25 years, including Oscar De La Hoya, Roy Jones Jr., Bernard Hopkins, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Kostya Tszyu and Wladimir Klitschko.

He has not worked since doing a Dec. 11 card in Las Vegas.

Nady said he expects to return to officiating in three to four months. His long-time friend, Nevada boxing judge Duane Ford, finds that projection optimistic, but said he wouldn't put it past Nady.

"Four months would surprise me, but Jay is a very determined guy and he finds a way to bounce back," Ford said. "He's had a lot of bumps in the road, but he's always been able to overcome them and I don't think this will be any different."

Marc Ratner, who as the long-time executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission was Nady's boss, said he had a relationship with Nady dating back to the 1960s when Nady competed on the University of Nevada-Reno boxing team.

He said Nady moved to Las Vegas from Reno when he felt he wasn't getting enough fights to referee while based in Reno and quickly developed into one of the elite referees in the world.

"In my mind, he's still one of the best," said Ratner, now an executive with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. "He has a good way with the fighters. He's a big man who can handle anything that goes on in there and he's got very good judgment."

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