Watch Mayweather elbows, ref warns

LAS VEGAS - Respected fight official Joe Cortez on Friday warned referee Kenny Bayless to keep his eye on Floyd Mayweather's elbows when he clashes with Manny Pacquiao.

Puerto Rico's Cortez has refereed more than 170 world title fights, four of them involving Mayweather.

He said Bayless will need to be on guard if Mayweather resorts to raising his elbows, to make sure Pacquiao doesn't suffer a cut.

"Floyd is not a dirty fighter by nature," Cortez told AFP. "But when an opponent begins to get to his head from in front, he will raise his elbows to defend himself.

"Kenny Bayless must be very careful that when Floyd raises his elbow he doesn't cut Pacquiao and force the bout to be stopped and Mayweather disqualified.

"That would be disastrous," Cortez noted, in a bout that has garnered worldwide attention.

Visiting the press tent Friday, Cortez was mobbed by reporters wanting his opinion on how the fight would unfold.

The 70-year-old Hall-of-Famer said he remembers the four Mayweather fights he worked well, and thinks the 47-0 American is one of boxing's best counter-punchers.

"He is clearly one of the best stylists in the ring, with great defence and intelligence. It will not be easy for Manny to solve his style." Bayless knows both Mayweather and Pacquiao well.

He has refereed seven of the Filipino's fights - including bouts against Shane Mosley, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto and Juan Manuel Marquez - and five Mayweather fights.

Bayless refereed Mayweather's first professional fight, on October 11, 1996 against Mexico's Roberto Apodaca.

The 64-year-old has been a professional referee for 24 years, with more than 100 title bouts on his resume.

He's also a physical education instructor and former boxer.

Although Oscar de la Hoya said Bayless "always favors Mayweather," Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach was happy with his appointment.

"Bayless is now the best in the business." Roach said.

Roach also approved the appointment of Burt Clements, Dave Moretti and Glenn Feldman as judges.

"I think we have the best judges and Kenny Bayless is the best referee here, and that guarantees a fair fight," Roach said.