Jay Nady Interview
26.08.05 - By Justin Hackman: I had the honor of having a great discussion with Jay Nady. He gave me a unique view on boxing from an angle that often is unseen or unnoticed. In this interview, Jay speaks on his life as a referee, the Hopkins/Taylor fight, the “incident” with Zab Judah, and more.
Article posted on 27.08.2005
JH: “Hey Jay, how’s it goin?”
Nady: “Hey Justin. I’m in Oklahoma City right now; I’m doing the ESPN fight tomorrow night.”
JH: “When typically do you find out when you are doing a fight?”
Nady: “About a week in advance.”
JH: “So what does your job entail? When you are not actually in the ring, what are you doing to make yourself a better referee?”
Nady: “I try to stay up with what’s going on in the sport so you know rivalries or arguments among fighters, promoters, and trainers that are part of fight that I’m going to do. You mentioned earlier something interesting, you
mentioned that the third man often times goes unnoticed” (Jay was alluding to a comment I made early in the conversation). “Well that’s what we try to do. I come from a family of officials, three brothers and sisters all of whom
including our parents are officials. We always say the best referee is that one that stays unnoticed.”
JH: “So you prefer that type of fight compared to one for example when you are in the ring with a Bernard Hopkins: a fight that forces you to be constantly giving warnings, or breaking the fighters apart. You prefer to be somewhat invisible?”
Nady: “That’s my goal.”
JH: “I bring up Hopkins, I want to talk a little about his fight with Jermain Taylor. I thought this was an unbelievable match-up. It was an incredibly intriguing fight. Tell me a bit about your experience with those two guys in the ring.”
Nady: “My experience with them is that they were both gentlemen. I would have to say Bernard is the craftiest fighter I have ever officiated or even seen. And I have been a ref since 1971 and Hopkins is the one that knows more about ring generalship more so than any fighter I have ever seen. He did everything I asked him to do and he pushed me as far as he could, and that’s his job.”
JH: “How close were you to taking a point away?”
Nady: “Never crossed my mind.”
JH: “I noticed that you gave him a warning. You told him if he hit and held one more time you were going to take a point away. And you knew how pivotal that could have been and would have been in the scoring.
Nady: “Right. He was holding the back of Taylor’s head with his left and hitting with his right and he knew it. He did it again two rounds after that warning, so I barked at him. And he waved as though, ‘Oops I forgot.’ It was complete compliance on his part. He could have done a lot more things than he did. He is so crafty. If I was on one side, he would hold on the other. He is a ring general.”
JH: “That’s for sure. So who do you think won that fight?”
Nady: “The judges are better at scoring than I am. I don’t judge rounds. After the fight, I asked who won. I did Barrett and Rahman two weeks ago, and later when I watched it on TV, Rahman clearly won at least eight or nine of those rounds. But after the fight, I had to ask who won. I didn’t know. It was the same with Taylor/Hopkins. Even though there was some controversy with the scoring, I think those are three of the best judges in the sport.”
JH: “Well it has been beaten into the ground at this point that Duane Ford gave the final round to Taylor, though I feel the real injustice came on Jerry Roth’s card, and how he had the fight 116-112 for Hopkins. I know before the first bell, you looked over to Roth and said ‘Jerry wake up!’ What was that about?”
Nady: “I try to make eye contact with every judge before the first bell. I looked at Duane and Paul Smith I couldn’t get eye contact with Jerry Roth. It wasn’t like he was napping or anything, I just wanted to get eye contact with him before the first bell sounded.”
JH: “I want to talk a bit about Zab Judah. After the Tszyu fight, he acted in a completely unprofessional way to say, in my opinion, the least. How do you, coming from a long line of officials, react to something like that when a fighter gets way out of line?”
Nady: “I have been doing this so long and I see a reaction after a concussion. I’ve seen it at least 50 times, when a fighter gets knocked out and doesn’t know where he is. I’ve been doing this for 23 years. I probably do about 100 fights a year, and probably half as many as that for the first ten years, so I would say I have done in my career about 2400 fights. I’ve seen people react in a number of different ways after a knockout. Zab had suffered a brief concussion. And when he awoke, he was extremely agitated and didn’t know where he was. When his fist was in my throat, he didn’t know he was in the fight, didn’t know he was down, or where he was. He couldn’t see me. I could see in his eyes he couldn’t see me. I was not afraid, not because he’s a little guy, but because he couldn’t see me. And I knew he could not do any damage to anyone in that state.”
JH: “He probably could not have done much against Kostya Tszyu then, no?”
Nady: “Ha, right. I believe that I saved his life. Some of these fighters, when they take too much punishment, they never recover. He could have been hurt in that fight. I don’t regret anything I did in that fight, and he has been nothing but a gentleman to me ever since, he and his family.”
*At this point in the discussion, Jay receives another phone call. It was from Duane ford making sure he landed ok in Oklahoma City.
JH: “I know you have to remain unbiased, so I’m not going to ask you your favorite fighter, but let me put it this way: is there a fighter that stands out in your mind as the most exciting?”
Nady: (Pause) “I gotta think about that.”
JH: “What do you think of Sam Peter so far?”
Nady: “Well so far he’s been dominating. His fight with Klitschko will be interesting. If that were in Vegas I would think I may get that fight, and would be excited to do it, but we have so many great referees here in Vegas you of course cannot get every fight.”
JH: “So speaking of that, when you found out you were doing Hopkins/Taylor, what was your reaction? Did you know you had a challenge in front of you?”
Nady: “I’ve seen both these fighters at least 3 or 4 times, and I’ve seen Hopkins wrestling with Mills Lane and Tony Weeks, and both those fights were difficult to officiate. So my first reaction was, I hope I don’t get into a wrestling match, but it never happened. It was like the Ruiz and Roy Jones fight. Everybody told me that John would hit and then hold. So I did my best to keep it a clean fight, then afterwards Ruiz complained I took him out of his game plan.”
I went on to tell Jay he did a great job in the Hopkins/Taylor fight and asked him if he would like to do the rematch. Jay told me that although it would be a great thrill to officiate the sequel, he’s not sure it would happen. I then asked him who he thought would win the rematch, and he said he could not even begin to make a guess. “Taylor is so incredibly strong,” Jay told me. “He was so strong that Bernard was not willing to take any chances…and neither did Taylor.” Jay stated it would be near impossible to pick a winner in the rematch, and to illustrate his claim he pointed to Hasim Rahman. “Here’s a guy that rolled over Kali Meehan, who gave Brewster a run for his money, then did not look as strong against Barrett.” We agreed that styles make fights. My final question to Jay was, “So where does the salute to the camera come from?”
Nady: “I was in the army. So I am saluting the troops. And I know there have been some questions on whether or not we should be over there, however questions aside, the fact remains that our troops are indeed there. And I would support them if they were fighting on the moon.”
Jay mentioned early in the interview that his experience with Hopkins and Taylor was that they were both gentlemen. Well in my discussion with Jay, I can say that he is a gentleman, and truly one of the best in the business.
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