By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Mark Nelson learned from his father how to referee a boxing match.

Now he’s created his own spotlight.

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This week, the apex of his career when Manny Pacquiao faces Dan Horn in Horn’s home country, Australia. Nelson will referee the fight, and that is a boxing thrill.

Mark Nelson has toiled as professional boxing referee for 28 years, travelling the globe and honing his craft.

“Training inside that square circle. The only way you get work is developing in a boxing ring working as much professional boxing as possible,” Nelson said. “I’m licensed in about five different states.”

That’s why this week is a thrill. He got the call to work a championship fight in Australia with one of the world’s greatest fighters ever in Manny Pacquiao.

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“The magnitude of the fight. The purses are well over several million dollars,” Nelson said. “You kind of block that our as a referee. Once they get in there, the crowd noise is there but you just do what you’ve been doing and do what you always do.”

It will bring in an international audience. His job? Do his job.

“There’s butterflies. I don’t think there’s a huge concern but you just want to make sure you’re on top of your game,” Nelson said. “Know exactly how you’re going to handle every situation. And our primary role is to protect these guys from any unnecessary punishment.”

Part of what has been a journey he has enjoyed: Seeing the world in a boxing ring.

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“To be a part of any championship fight at that level and to work in a foreign country or a state or a travel commission for that matter, it’s a real privilege. Just to know that they have enough confidence in you,” Nelson said.

Mike Max