The officials for the impending world heavyweight title showdown between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk on May 18 have been decided and agreed by all parties, BoxingScene understands.

The referee will be Maplewood, Minnesota’s Mark Nelson, a veteran who will be taking charge of his 990th bout. More than 100 of those have had a world title of some description on the line. 

The judges are Spain’s Manuel Oliver Palermo, Canada’s Craig Metcalfe and Jacksonville, Wisconsin’s Mike Fitzgerald.

A referee since 1992, the first fight Nelson oversaw with a major belt at stake came in December 1997 when Eric Jamili halted Mickey Cantwell in eight rounds to defend his WBO minimumweight strap. 

Nelson’s most recent high-profile bout saw him rescue Liam Wilson from Oscar Valdez in the seventh round in March. Though vastly experienced, this will be the first time he has refereed a world heavyweight title fight, with much of his work coming in the lighter weight classes.

Palermo has been an official since 1997 and judged 234 professional bouts, largely at European level. Like all judges he’s been known to hand in the odd contentious scorecard. In 2002, he had Johnny Nelson a 115-113 winner over Guillermo Jones in a WBO cruiserweight title fight and, nine years later, he was one of two judges to favour Finland’s Robert Helenius over Derek Chisora by a 115-113 score in Helsinki.

Metcalfe has judged 374 professional bouts since 2005. In June last year, he was the only official to score for Danielito Zorrilla in his bout with Regis Prograis. His score of 114-113 for Zorrilla was in line with the opinion of many observers but was wildly different from the other two judges, who liked Prograis by seven and nine points.

He has officiated a Usyk bout before. In January 2018 he felt Mairis Briedis had done enough to earn a share of the spoils following the memorable cruiserweight unification showdown, scoring the bout 114-114. The other scores were 115-113 for Usyk, who won a majority decision.

His most recent work on a heavyweight title fight came in January 2015 when, in a bout for the vacant WBC title between Deontay Wilder and Bermaine Stiverne, he had the former a handy winner. Other scores of note include his close call for Andre Ward over Carl Froch (115-113) in 2011 and a disagreement with CJ Ross in 2013 when he rightly felt that Floyd Mayweather was a handy winner (117-111) over Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. 

Fitzgerald, who has frequently worked alongside referee Nelson, can boast 1,013 fights in which he’s been a judge since he started scoring fights in 1992. A recent decision of note was John Ryder’s close victory over Daniel Jacobs in London two years ago, when Fitzgerald scored 115-113 for the Briton.

All four officials have been approved by the British Boxing Board of Control.

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