Actually, that's not true. What happened was that SEVEN referees were pulled off to the side at the WBA officials seminar and were asked to view the tape.
The conclusion was NOT that all seven would have disqualified Johnson. It was that there was not enough evidence, based on what was available to be seen, to overrule the way Cortez called the fight.
How they came to this conclusion was strange indeed. Basically, the determination was that a couple of low blows Cortez called MAY have been questionable, or borderline. However, at the same time, there were a couple of knockdowns that could have scored for Ruiz but in fact were not - and that pretty much evened things out.
In other words, it was decided, in effect, that Cortez had actually made MORE mistakes than Johnson's camp had even intimated, but it was okay because the mistakes were equal on both sides.
While that's not an indictment, it's certainly not a ringing endorsement.
I don't really want to construct this as overly critical of Cortez' actions - I'm sure he's done a very good job in a lot of fights. Of course, I've also seen him let Roberto Duran take a frightful beating from William Joppy for no apparent reason at all.
At any rate, let's not deify ANY official, regardless of who he is, okay?
I happen to be very concerned when I read things like Greg Sirb wrote to his ABC colleagues - referring to the implementation of neutral oficials for title fights as "a problem". What the problem is, I don't have a clue. But I'm worried because I don't think he has any idea what it means to remove the APPEARANCE of any conflicts of interest, because he doesn't fully appreciate how important it is.
And as for those ABC people who agree with him - I wonder whether they even know WHY they want complete, unilateral authority in appointing judges.
Sure enough, Sirb noticed the comments I had made about the language in the federal law at the WBA convention, and immediately sprung into action, directing Ken Nahigian to change the wording of the Professional Boxing Amendments Act, which amended Section 16 of the Muhammad Ali Act, to read:
"No person may arrange, promote, organize, produce, or fight in a professional boxing match unless all referees and judges participating in the match have been SELECTED (this previously said "certified and approved") by the boxing commission responsible for regulating the match in the State where the match is held."
``(c) Sanctioning Organization NOT TO INFLUENCE SELECTION PROCESS (This previously read "Sanctioning Body to Provide List").
A sanctioning organization:
``(1) MAY (previously was "shall") provide a list of judges and referees deemed qualified by that organization to a boxing commission; but
``(2) SHALL (previously was "may") not influence, or attempt to influence, a boxing commission's selection of a judge or referee for a professional boxing match except by providing such a list."
Gee, it's nice to have an impact.
I want people to understand what having a law like this would mean, and what it would allow. If these guys have their way, you could conceivably have a situation where you'd have a Bernard Hopkins defending his title in Philadelphia against someone from overseas, and you could have three judges and a referee from Philadelphia working the fight. That kind of thing could happen over and over. And there wouldn't be a damn thing anyone could do about it, save for an opponent pulling out of the fight, for which he'd probably wind up being suspended by the commission and blackballed off a network.
Any fairness or neutrality you could possibly squeeze out of this process would be completely left to the discretion of a local commission. And after reading about the ineptitude and corruption of some of them on these pages, do you really want to leave that kind of thing totally within their control?
I don't. That's because I can sense what will happen as a result.
And I must admit to something of a reversal of attitude on this, since I now realize that these people, by and large, don't want to cooperate with anybody.
They were presented with a completely workable plan, detailed in
of this series. And that wasn't the only alternative. Funny thing is, the people I talked to from sanctioning bodies appeared open and willing to forge a cooperative effort, but the ABC leadership simply didn't want to hear any of it. They want control of everything in their hands entirely. And believe me - those are some very shaky hands to put them in.
Frankly, I don't trust their honesty, integrity, or ability any more than I do the sanctioning bodies. At least the WBC, WBA, and IBF have some boxing people in their ranks. As far as the state commissions are concerned, boxing people are few and far between.
If you've followed "Operation Cleanup", along with the other stories I've written over the past two years, you've seen the following documented misdeeds of boxing commissions, or commissioners:
* Illegally wiretapping phone conversations for the purposes of sabotaging a fellow commissioner at an official state meeting.
* Neglecting to have proper safety provisions at the site of a professional boxing match, contrary to the requirements of federal law, contributing to a life-threatening injury suffered by a fighter.
* Extorting excessive free passes out of promoters, using the threat of punishment, including refusal of licensure, for non-compliance.
* Failure to require that a contract be produced and filed in conjunction with every professional fight, a measure that would ensure that a fighter would get paid what he's supposed to.
* Conducting phony weigh-ins for the purposes of affording one over-the-weight fighter an advantage over another.
* Forging state documents for the purposes of favoring one side over the other in an administrative proceeding.
* Allowing physicians who are not duly licensed or qualified to work professional fights.
* Allowing fighters to compete in their state while under suspension - medical or otherwise.
* Approving gross mismatches that sometimes lead to severe ring injuries.
There's a lot more stuff that could go on this list.
In many cases, their conduct has been WORSE than anything we've seen out of the sanctioning bodies. Do you think anyone should be overly anxious to hand even a minimum of responsibility over to them?
And here's the tremendous irony about all this - the reason the ABC leadership aspires to seize control of this process is to a great degree in response to what is perceived as excessive politics on the part of the world sanctioning bodies.
While I won't exactly defend the sanctioning bodies on that count, it's important to point out that each and every member of a boxing commission, not to mention nearly every administrative director, is a product of the political process, in one way or another. In point of fact, that's how they got their jobs in the first place. EVERYONE in a real position of power or influence is a political appointee.
So let's not have any illusions that we are removing politics from the process of approving, appointing, or naming officials; in fact, we're actually ADDING politics to it. The selection of officials on a local level - that goes for the judges, the referees, the doctors, the inspectors - has a tremendous political element to it; one that can't be fully understood unless you've had direct experience with it.
You know, the term "hometown decision" isn't a figment of my imagination; I think you'll find the vast majority of questionable calls by judges, relatively speaking, don't happen in championship fights, but on the local level, by state officials.
I have been told by people with the ABC that the officials they approve to work at world championship fights within the United States would have to go through their ceritification program; this can only be done by attending an ABC-sponsored seminar, which exists solely at the annual convention now but which may soon be expanded to satellite locations around the country. There is a fee attached, which is not negligible. And what I find interesting is that their lead instructor for this year's seminar was a man (Marty Denkin) who was ejected from the California commission fourteen years ago for allegedly taking bribes to approve certain matches, who has somehow found his way back onto the commission, and who, while an active member of that commission, works for a sanctioning body (the IBA, for whom he referees fights), something that certainly appears to be a violation of Section 9 of the Professional Boxer Safety Act:
"CONFLICTS OF INTEREST. No member or employee of a boxing commission, no person who administers or enforces State boxing laws, and no member of the Association of Boxing Commissions may belong to, contract with, or receive any compensation from, any person who sanctions, arranges, or promotes professional boxing matches or who otherwise has a financial interest in an active boxer currently registered with a boxer registry."
This is the kind of standard they want to set.
And this is what they want to shove down your throat.
My response to them is "Well, can you define what a good official is?", at which point they frequently get tongue-tied.
So what IS a good official? Let's explore that.
Is it a referee who, like Joe Cortez, has done 150 title fights?
Well, the argument that there's strength in numbers doesn't resonate very well with me. Getting all those assignments as a referee can be as much a function of being in the right place at the right time as anything else. If you lived in New Jersey in the 1970's and 1980's, for example, you were going to get your fair share of title fights, no matter who you were. And right now Nevada is certainly one of the places to be. With the number of weight divisions greatly increased and the proliferation of sanctioning bodies, it's completely misleading to compare the numbers of the referees of the last 25 years to those who populated the sport decades ago. I'm not altogether impressed by such statistics. And we haven't even mentioned the strength of being political enough to ingratiate yourself to the right people.
Is it a judge who usually votes with the majority?
That's what people like the ABC's "Past President", Greg Sirb, seem to think. Sirb takes great pride in a system - entitled the "Judges' Statistical Report" - that he uses to grade officials. This system is predicated, to a great degree, on whether judges have voted with the majority in the process of scoring a fight. And it's also, I presume, one of the yardsticks that is going to be used if the ABC ever became empowered with the authority to appoint ALL judges for world title bouts.
According to Sirb, in a message to all ABC members:
"A Judge could vote for the winner of the bout and thus agree with the other Judges but if their score is 3-points or more from the other Judges that must be taken into account. Obviously if a Judge is above the world average in the % different column (voting apart from the majority), has a high percentage of even rounds, and is below the world average in voting with the winner of the bout - this may not be the Judge you want in your jurisdiction, particularly if it is to judge a world title bout."
Is THAT the right criteria for determining who a good official is?
Let me tell you something that is true right now, was true yesterday and will still be true fifty years from now. I could take almost any top matchmaker - and I'm talking about people like Johnny Bos, Tom Brown, Chris Middendorf, Jimmy Waldrop, Bruce Trampler - and I could put one of them in a room with two boxing judges. They can watch a tape of the same fight, from the same angle, and the matchmaker is liable to see a lot of things in that fight that the judges simply won't see. As a result, he might come up with a different decision on a close fight a high percentage of the time - I suppose too high for Sirb's tastes.
Now, would that make the matchmaker a bad judge? Or would it, in fact, make him (i.e., the MINORITY voter) the smartest guy in the room?
See what I mean? Voting with the majority doesn't necessarily make you any better than the OTHER guy who's voting with the majority.
I would suggest that it's much easier to identify a BAD official than a good official. If we see a fight and think it quite obviously went one way - and I mean overwhelmingly so - and one of the judges voted the other way, as I guess most people feel Eugenia Williams did in the first Holyfield-Lewis fight (I would think Patricia Jarman-Manning's scoring of the De la Hoya-Vargas fight fits into this category too), we figure we can tag that person as a bad official. Okay, I'll buy that.
If a referee lets a fighter take far too much punishment, putting him in imminent physical danger, and still won't stop a fight, we might be able to identify that guy as a bad official too.
So really, when it come right down to it, isn't the definition of a "good official" more or less anyone we can't readily identify as a BAD official? Isn't it someone whose screwups aren't so glaring as to make us notice? And under those parameters, couldn't we just as easily find so-called "good" officials from overseas as we could here in the United States, for the purposes of preserving the concept of integrity and geographic neutrality in officiating?
You better believe we can - if boxing commissions would just bother putting a little effort into it.
Spink's brilliant career came close to never being realized. Coming out of the 1976 Olympics, boxing was the third priority for Michael Spinks. First was maintaining his job at a chemical plant to help take care of his mother in St. Louis. There were no big contract offers waiting for a signature to turn professional. Second was to help his brother Leon who came out of the Olympics with more promise and expectation. Those who followed the brothers amateur careers more closely felt Michael had the more promising career ahead as a pro . They felt Michael's style was more suited for the pros. However Leon was streaking his way to becoming a ranked heavyweight contender, and was becoming a television staple of ABC sports. ABC was capitalizing having broadcast the summer Olympics and show casing the five American boxers who captured gold medals. So Michael's career was pushed to the back burner. Convinced by flamboyant boxing promoter Butch Lewis in 1977 to begin a professional boxing career, Spinks turned pro. On April 17, 1977. Eddie Benson would be the answer to a trivia question as to who was the first fighter Michael Spinks Ko'd as a pro. History would look back to Benson as being the launch pad for one of the most productive and successful boxing career's in the history of the Lt. Heavyweight division. Spinks brought to the division a style that could be a real pain if you were fighting in the Lt. heavyweight division. He was 6'2 1/2' with a seventy eight inch reach, only two inches shorter than former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes. He had a good long hard jab, his left hook and left uppercut were devastating punches. Let's not forget the Spinks jinx in the right hand. He scored some devastating knockouts ( Marvin Johnson, Yaqui Lopez, Jerry Celestine ). Spinks could also box from the outside as well, ( Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Dwight Muhammad Qwai, formerly Dwight Braxton ). Plus he was extremely awkward.
After blazing through his first sixteen fights which included knockout victories over former two-time Light heavyweight Champion Marvin Johnson and veteran Lt. Heavyweight contender Yaqui Lopez. He was now the top ranked contender for WBA Lt. Heavyweight Champion Eddie Mustafa Muhammad ( formerly Eddie Gregory ). On July 18th, 1981 Spinks fought the counter power punching Mustafa Muhammad. Mustafa was by far the most formidable opponent Spinks had faced in his career at the time. The usually unmotivated Muhammad showed up in tremendous condition to face the up and coming undefeated Spinks. Muhammad started off very fast taking advantage of his vast experience and his cunning boxing skills. Spinks fell behind early in the fight and was being shut out going into round five. From the fifth round on Spinks controlled the bout by forcing the champion to follow him setting him up to be hit with all the punches in the Spinks arsenal. Spinks was now controlling the bout landing uppercuts and overhand rights to the pressuring Muhammad. Having the champion cut and bleeding over both eyes Spinks lands his calling card punch, the overhand right known as the "Spinks Jinx" in the twelfth round and puts Muhammad down. Muhammad rises but, loses his title by unanimous decision to the new champion Michael Spinks. From November 7, 1981 through September 18, 1982 Spinks makes five defenses of his WBA title scoring five kayo's. These K.O.s were over some of the divisions best. Angelo Dundee's undefeated top ranked contender Vonzell Johnson, the tough Murray Sutherland and the never been stopped third ranked Johnny Davis, who owned a victory over current WBC Lt. Heavyweight Champ Dwight Muhammad Qwai, (formerly known as Dwight Braxton ).
On March 18, 1983 WBA Lt. Heavyweight Champ Michael Spinks and WBC Lt. Heavyweight Champ Dwight Muhammad Qwai meet for the Undisputed Lt. Heavyweight Championship of the world. This was without a doubt one of the most anticipated Lt. Heavyweight title bouts in history. Both fighters creamed the entire division scoring impressive wins over the best of the best. Spinks was undefeated and the once beaten Qwai hadn't lost since dropping a six round decision to Johnny Davis in is third bout as a pro. Qwai had won the title scoring a tenth round TKO over reigning champ Matthew Saad Muhammad. Since winning the title Qwai had made three successful defenses scoring Ko's over Saad Muhammad in a rematch, and knockout victories over third ranked Jerry "The Bull" Martin and fourth ranked Eddie Davis. Not only did this bout have two fighters with legitimate claims as to being the champ. They also possessed contrasting styles. The 6' 2 1/2" Spinks preferred to work from the outside behind his long sharp left jab, using it to set up his devastating uppercuts and Spinks Jinx. The 5' 8" Qwai did his best work inside ripping the body with bone jarring hooks and right uppercuts to the chin. The two fighters styles also offered many contradictions, Spinks could really punch and Qwai was an underrated boxer. Spinks went on to capture a 15 round majority decision to claim the undisputed Lt. heavyweight championship of the world. Spinks shows his versatility against the best opponent he has ever faced. Boxing and using the ring without running, and stopping to plant to unload the Spinks Jinx when Qwai slows. In this fight Michael Spinks puts on a clinic on how to use the jab, he uses his jab as an offensive weapon as well as using it defensively keeping the hard charging Qwai from coming at him with impunity. Spinks goes on to make 4 successful defences of his undisputed Lt. heavyweight title cleaning out the entire division over the next two years. Having run out of worthy challengers in his true division, and having one of the most complete careers in Lt. heavyweight history having never suffered a defeat and defending his title 10 times Spinks hears the call of the Heavyweight dollars.
Looking to build upon his legacy Spinks relinquished his Lt. heavyweight title to challenge the current undefeated heavyweight champ Larry Holmes. Spinks was ridiculed and laughed at for abandoning a division he dominated for eight years and clearly could've continued to dominate with no one on the horizon who would be considered a threat to his title. Having accomplished what former legendary Lt. heavyweight champ Bob Foster failed to, go undefeated at Lt. heavyweight, ( Foster lost a decision to Mauro Mina as a Lt. heavy ). Spinks set out to achieve another milestone that had never been done by a previous Lt. heavyweight champion, win the heavyweight title. Heavyweight champ Larry Holmes had ruled the heavyweight division for seven years and had a gaudy record of 48-0 and was on the heels of tying the immortal Rocky Marciano who retired 49-0 and was the only heavyweight champion to retire undefeated in boxing history. On September 21, 1985 exactly thirty years to the day of Marciano making his last title defense against Lt. heavyweight champion Archie Moore, Spinks would challenge for Holmes title. At age 35 Holmes was aging but was still considered a big favorite to defeat the former Lt. heavyweight champ and equal Marciano's record.
On the same night Spinks made history and denied history by capturing Holmes tittle via a fifteen round decision to become the first Lt . heavyweight champion to win the world heavyweight title. Spinks having endured a torturous training regime transformed himself into a 200 pound fighter. Spinks out quicked and outmaneuvered the champ and was able to keep Holmes from dominating with his jab, and moving in and out just enough to keep the bigger man from getting inside. Holmes was outraged at the decision and in a fit of anger made his infamous comment and said "Rocky Marciano couldn't carry my jock strap". Holmes wanted a rematch and the public wanted to see if the transformed Lt. heavyweight could do it again.
Holmes promised he would get Spinks in the rematch and he almost did, coming out hard and aggressive he had Spinks in trouble in the early going. Once again Spinks with his speed and awkward mobility survived and managed to stabilize the fight by the middle rounds doing some effective boxing while keeping the aging Holmes from imposing his strength and will. It wasn't until the fourteenth round that Holmes had finally caught Spinks with the biggest punch either had landed, a bone jarring straight right to Spinks chin knocking him across the ring and almost out. Again the cagy and crafty Spinks survives and comes on with a flurry in the last round and is awarded a split decision by the judges to retain the title.
Having defeated Larry Holmes twice for the title Spinks and his promoter Butch Lewis decided to by pass the heavyweight tournament that HBO and Don King productions were putting together to come up with an undisputed heavyweight champion. Spinks and Lewis chose a different route. After being stripped of the IBF title he won from Holmes, Spinks signed to fight the hard hitting Gerry Cooney who was making a comeback after a two and a half year retirement. Once again Spinks was an underdog to the once beaten Cooney. After one postponement Spinks and Cooney would finally meet in Atlantic City in a bout that was billed the liner heavyweight title. Once again the clever Spinks would endure some rough patches early in the fight and goes on to TKO Cooney in the fifth round. Two months later the new force in the heavyweight division Mike Tyson would win the HBO tournament by decisioning Tony Tucker. This set the stage for much debate as to who was the real Heavyweight Champion. By this time Tyson was clearly at his peak and Spinks was showing signs of being on the wrong side of the hill. However the public demand to see the two undefeated fighters face each other was growing. After months of build up Spinks and Tyson would meet in Atlantic City, the town where both had scored some of their biggest career wins.
The fight wasn't even a contest. It was painfully obvious that Spinks didn't want to be there with a true heavyweight force who was in his absolute prime. Within less than two minutes Tyson was able to do two things to Spinks no fighter had been able to, put him down and out. At almost 32 years old Spinks announced his retirement and would never fight again. Spinks turned down many multimillion dollar offers to comeback, some were for him to fight the current heavyweight champ at the time Evander Holyfield.
It is the opinion of this writer that the Tyson defeat has caused many so-called boxing experts to overlook and under appreciate the unparalleled career of Michael Spinks. When evaluating his career it becomes quite clear that he could do it all. He could box using the ring utilizing his jab and reach. He could punch with either hand having the ability to score knockouts with the hook or uppercut, and the right being the Spinks jinx was the closest punch the Lt. heavyweight division has seen to instant death since the left hook of Bob Foster. He thoroughly ruled a stacked Lt. heavyweight division, not the weak division that Roy Jones dominates today. He never suffered a defeat at Lt. heavy something no other Lt. heavyweight champion in history can claim including legends Bob Foster and Archie Moore and todays current champion Roy Jones Jr. He moved up to Heavyweight and won the championship something all of his peers failed to do and Roy Jones won't try.
Spinks career is overlooked because of the Tyson defeat. However history looks fondly on Billy Conn who was knocked out by Joe Louis in a failed attempt for the heavyweight title. Archie Moore failed against Rocky Marciano and Bob Foster was destroyed by Joe Frazier in the same fashion Spinks was by Tyson. Conn, Moore and Foster never achieved what Spinks did at Lt. heavyweight or heavyweight. Spinks didn't meet his match until he was 3 years into his career at the bigger weight. Why is he forgotten when mentioning hall of fame champions and all-time great fighters? If he was fighting today he would have a picnic with the Lt. heavyweights, Jones included. And outside of maybe a few heavyweights he'd have his way in that division as well. Oh yes Michael Spinks is with out a doubt one of the two or three most underrated and least appreciated champions in history.
"The practice of active litigation is not customary nor a part of the idiosyncrasy of the society where I was born and live, Mexico, and I have never personally in my life presented a lawsuit against anybody, for any reason whatever.
"However, my life has been impacted dramatically since I was injured during the physical confrontation between boxing heavyweight world champion Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson last January in New York, where I was abandoned by all participating parties on the stage of the theatre, waiting for an ambulance that never arrived: with no concern or precaution to medically or spiritually help the person who was the President of the WBC, the organization that was an important factor for their championship bout to take place, and thus, I have felt a blast of disrespect against my pride and dignity as a human being.
"More than six months have passed, and I have been examined by several prestigious medical specialists, clinics and hospitals in Mexico City, California, Florida and New York, as well as having undergone numerous therapy treatments in an unsuccessful effort to find a remedy for my numerous traumas, some which are permanent and disabling and which, as of today, have limited me to stay at home, from where I have to do my work.
"All of the above reasons, plus my inability to understand or rationalize why institutions of so much experience and financial power, and teams of the two most highly recognized professional boxers, could plan and handle a press ceremony so poorly with no security, nor any control of credentials, for an event that even a child could foresee would be widely attended.
"Nor have I been able to understand the reason to have two boxers, who had shown so much bad blood for each other and who are two powers for nature, left alone for a face off all by themselves on a theatre stage without any security between them. Not only to avoid their hurting each other, but also to protect innocent bystanders from being hurt. Which happened to be my case.
"I perceive that with my lawsuit, I will be confronting a group of gigantic and powerful people and institutions, but I know that justice has no immunity. If I don´t do it, I would be betraying my principles and my struggle for what is right, as well as my pride and dignity as a man, as a
WBC public figure and as a human being.
"I have put my case in the hands of the law firm Sullivan, Papain, McGrath, Block and Cannavo, who will in the future answer questions through my attorney Christopher McGrath, and following their advice, I will not in the future make any more comments.
"To conclude, I am so firmly and strongly convinced of my rights that we will go through any and all legal instances, whatever the cost."
Now wait just a doggone minute here.
When the dispute over officials between the World Boxing Council and the Indiana Boxing Commission was taking place in connection with the Vernon Forrest-Shane Mosley fight, we were informed that Forrest's camp objected - rather strongly - to the presence of Fred Jones as one of the fight's judges because he was registered to the International Boxing Federation.
And why was that a problem? Well, partly because the IBF had previously stripped Forrest of its welterweight championship, and it was determined that an "IBF official" might prejudice Forrest for that reason - even though it could be argued that the stripping of Forrest at the time was justifiable, since, in the organization's estimation, he did not comply with the official rules that were set forth regarding obligations on the part of champions toward mandatory challengers (as a result, Michele Piccirillo recently won the 147-pound belt over Cory Spinks).
In a one-on-one conversation with Sulaiman, who is the president of the World Boxing Council, his explanation was that the decision to replace Jones was much more out of protest by Forrest's people than it was of his own doing.
Fair enough; it's true that the protests that came from Al Haymon, the representative of Forrest, were strong, and that they carried a lot of weight with the Indiana commissioners who were in attendance at their July 15 meeting.
Certainly, though, the WBC did nothing to mitigate the effect of such protests; in fact, they acquiesced to them, and in a sense, may have reaffirmed those objections. In a letter sent by Sulaiman to William Kelsey, chairman of the Indiana commission, on June 27, Sulaiman pointed out that,
"In regards to the title defense in Indiana from Vernon Forrest versus Shane Mosley, Forrest, the champion, has strongly and specifically stated that he would not accept IBF registered officials, as the IBF stripped him of his world title."
That objection seemed to be good enough for Sulaiman, and let's say, for the sake of argument, that it was.
Then you tell ME - how much of a legitimate objection does Lennox Lewis have now, in ANY fight in which he would defend his WBC version of the title, with the appointment of any official that is registered with the WBC?
I mean, if Forrest can squawk about a judge who has, in the past, worked for an organization that has stripped him of a title - for cause - shouldn't WBC officials now be disqualified from participating in any future Lennox Lewis title defenses, on the basis that the dispute between Lewis and the president of the organization that would seek to govern his title bouts is characterized by much more direct acrimony - to the tune of what is no doubt the lion's share of 56 million dollars?
It would appear to me that the only fair thing in this situation would be for WBC officials - that includes judges and referees - to recuse themselves from the process of officiating at any of Lewis' fights, or Tyson's, for that matter, until the litigation initiated by Sulaiman comes to a definitive resolution.
Because at this point, if I were part of the management team of Lennox Lewis, I would be worried that anyone from the WBC might prejudice me, simply because right now we'd be in an adversarial position.
I'm just using the same kind of simple logic that has been presented to me before, in the Forrest-Mosley case.
Oh, there's no doubt in my mind that Sulaiman suffered some injuries as a result of the press conference melee in January - there are plenty of witnesses who can attest to that. Whether Lewis had any direct connections to those injuries is a matter that will be addressed during the discovery process.
But is this lawsuit, in part, really about something else?
Surely, Sulaiman had to be anticipating the judgment awarded Graciano Rocchigiani, who stands to collect a lot of money (how much money will vary, depending on the results of an appeal) as a result of the decision in the damages phase of his lawsuit against the WBC. The original figure, with interest, was projected to be as high as $31 million - enough in and of itself to send Sulaiman scurrying to find alternative streams of income (has he tried MLM marketing yet?).
And here's another thing that may have been a factor, at least until recently - we've been told that Lewis may have severely under-reported his purse for the June 8 fight with Mike Tyson.
The figure he registered was $10 million, according to our information, when in reality the purse was guaranteed for $17.5 million.
Since the WBC gets 3% of a fighter's purse in the form of a sanctioning fee up to $10 million, with 1% for every dollar after $10 million, the difference between the real figure and the reported figure made quite a bit of difference indeed as far as the fee the WBC was to be receive ($75,000, in fact).
In all fairness to Sulaiman, he would not have been altogether wrong if he were upset about that. Eventually though, the matter was settled.
Of course, since we intend to be instructive around here, I'd like to point out that this is just another reason to reinforce the point I made in Chapter 42 - in the interests of disclosure, no fight should be allowed to take place without a signed contract that is on file with the jurisdiction which is sanctioning that fight. In speaking with someone from the Tennessee commission in connection with another story, I was informed that it is not within their rules or regulations to require that ALL bout contracts be filed. They certainly did not have all the contracts pertaining to the Lewis-Tyson bout registered.
That kind of policy - or absence of it, as it were - is simply wrong, and unwise.
And let me make another point - let's say the WBC, for example, had been required to be licensed, registered, or regulated - whichever word you want to choose - pursuant to a Federal or state law.
Sure, it's something they certainly don't want, or look forward to, but consider the flipside - they would at least have had some protection in this situation. In fact, they would have had a right to DEMAND protection from the commission, simply on the basis that they, as a licensed entity, are entitled to the same protections any other licensee would be entitled to when it came to GETTING PAID.
And who knows - the wheels of justice may have turned in a different direction.
Yep, another multi-pronged argument. But that's just me being me.
The WBA, maybe thinking no one would notice or even read it, has been tinkering with its heavyweight rankings, putting some humorous spins on its choices for the top heavyweights in the world.
It’s as though the girls from “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion” somehow managed to hack into the WBA computer and changed the rankings based on who had the coolest-sounding names.
Fortunately, no one takes the WBA too seriously. Unfortunately, the WBA still hands out a few championship belts, and how you’re ranked in the top 10 can determine whether or not you get the chance to fight for one of those belts and the purse that comes with it.
Starting from the top and going from the July ratings to the August ratings, we still have John Ruiz as the WBA heavyweight champ. Nice guy. Quiet. Boston kid. Hangs on you a lot in the ring when you’re trying to hit him. The best heavyweight in the world? Sure. And Adam Sandler is the greatest thespian of our time. Ask Roy Jones why he wants to fight Ruiz, but won’t share a cab with Lennox Lewis.
Coming in as the No.1 contender is Evander “I’m not going away’’ Holyfield. A great fighter and a legitimate ranking - in 1994.
At No. 2 is the ubiquitous pugilist known as “not rated.”
What do you mean, not rated? Why not just move everyone up a spot? Who are you waiting for? This is the ace-in-the-hole for the WBA, gives them a little room if they need to make some late-night changes. They can suddenly decide to stick a guy in here if Don King needs a heavyweight “contender” real quick for one of his heavyweights.
No. 3? If you thought Nos. 1 and 2 were funny, wait until you hear this knee slapper. No. 3 used to be Vitaly Klitschko, who is not as good as his brother Wladimir, who isn’t even in the top 15 of the WBA. Somehow, Larry Donald - a Don King fighter - is now at No. 3, moving up from No. 6 despite losing to Kirk Johnson, who somehow fell from No. 5 to No. 10.
Those silly girls.
At No. 7 is Fres Oquendo. As Scott Shaffer of Fightnews wrote, “Since signing a contract with Don King Productions this year, Oquendo has been bumped up from 15th to 11th to seventh without fighting.’’
He hasn’t fought since April when he was stopped by David Tua, who somehow managed to slip from No. 8 to No. 9, two spots behind Oquendo.
Note to Fres: Be patient. If you remain loyal to Don King, you could become the WBA heavyweight champion of the world without ever fighting again. Or at least you could slip into that mysterious No. 2 spot now being held by “not rated.’’
Then there’s the Hasim Rahman storied climb toward the top of the heavyweight rankings. The last time Rahman won a fight was in April of 2001 when he shocked Lewis with one of those pool-hall right hands. Since that fight, he’s 0-for-2, yet he somehow moved up from No. 10 to No. 5, ahead of Tua, who stopped him in 1998.
In case you were wondering, yes, Rahman is with Don King.
Is there a pattern forming here?
Much to the chagrin of the WBA, someone actually read their new rankings and noticed the sleight-of-hand. Kirk Johnson and his camp asked the WBA - headquartered in Venezuela - to come up with some answers.
According to the Muhammad Ali Act, sanctioning bodies have seven days to explain movements in its top-10 ratings. It’s a federal law.
The WBA, realizing it might be in trouble, quickly responded.
In its most recent rankings, the WBA listed Muhammad Ali as the No. 2 heavyweight in the world.
It is the speculation in the media that this will spell the end for the World Boxing Council.
Not so fast.
Remember, there is going to be an appeal. And as a result of that appeal, the judgment is probably going to be greatly reduced, perhaps to a figure slightly below $10 million.
Of course, that's a process that could take more than a year. In the meantime, Rocchigiani is entitled to start collecting.
The WBC listed assets somewhere in the neighborhood of $265,000. I guess if Rocchigiani wanted, he could have probably seized all the assets right then and there, and for all intents and purposes shut the organization down.
But there's simply no motivation to do it.
If the WBC were to go out of business, Rocchigiani wouldn't be able to collect on his judgment. And let's face it - he didn't go through the process of filing a lawsuit, waiting for years to have it litigated, and getting himself furloughed from a German prison in order to come to America and appear in court, with nothing in mind but principle. Likewise, his attorney, Richard Dolan, is not in this business to score moral victories.
No - what Rocchigiani will most likely do is allow the WBC to sustain itself for the express purpose of facilitating that it earn enough to pay him. Let's just say, for the sake of argument, that Lennox Lewis were to make another WBC title defense, in which he would make $10 million. If the WBC collected its 3% sanctioning fee out of Lewis' purse, a total that would equal $300,000, Rocchigiani (or his representatives, as it were) might be there to collect, say, $200,000 of it. And it would continue to go like that until the judgment - or whatever arrangement is made - is satisfied.
As such, Rocchigiani would actually be the enabler that keeps the WBC afloat. And the organization will do just that, if it chooses to, although it won't be as profitable.
Of course, Rocchigiani will be pulling these strings from his German prison cell, where he is serving another year on a charge that he assaulted a police officer while under probation.
Interestingly enough, the court decision may actually wind up affecting other sanctioning bodies just as much as it does the WBC.
As Dolan said, "My client is the first boxer to fight the autocratic rule of the WBC and win."
That statement is probably true.
I can see fighters, once they are stripped of a title or find themselves dropping from - or being lowered in - the world ratings, where such action would materially prejudice them from a financial standpoint, now having more of a road map to follow if they decide to seek some kind of litigation against a sanctioning body. Just as importantly, they'll know they can win. And they'll have a lawyer they can call who's already done it.
For example, let's bring up the very instructive case of Golden Johnson, the former NABF welterweight champion who had his crown lifted for no legitimate reason - a case that was discussed at length in Chapter 22. Johnson would have the legitimate basis for a civil action which would not be all that dissimilar from the Rocchigiani case. Of course, his damages wouldn't be nearly the same, but there would be parallels in terms of the basic principle - which is the arbitrary and capricious punishment of a fighter by taking away a title due to reasons that have nothing to do with merit, in an action which is outside the scope of the organziation's own rules.
A judgment of punitive damages could have the effect of busting up the North American Boxing Federation, which would not be such a bad thing.
And there's a developing situation with several heavyweights, including Kirk Johnson, who have been lowered in the World Boxing Association's ratings without rhyme or reason, in favor of others who, contrary to conventional logic, were boosted in the ratings. It's a subject we are going to discuss in-depth in a subsequent chapter, but suffice to say Johnson and others might have very strong cases against the WBA as a result of such behavior.
Undoubtedly there are dozens of other cases that can be brought; cases that possibly could have been dealt with through the devices of the Association of Boxing Commissions, which is empowered to handle appeals for fighters who feel they were wronged in the ratings. Unfortunately, the ABC has not had the inclination to take action with regard to such grievances, so civil litigation has become a necessity. That's just as well, since the courts would most likely offer a more efficient way of dealing with the problem.
So once again, if injustices are corrected, John McCain's largely impotent "Ali Act", and the enforcement mechanism it contains, will have had absolutely nothing to do with it - another message for those of you who look upon boxing legislation as a "positive step toward boxing reform".
Another alternative that has been suggested is that the WBC might declare bankruptcy and reinvent itself as another sanctioning body. Well, they may inded go bankrupt, but it would probably be for the purposes of reorganizing itself so it can work out a feasible arrangement with Rocchigiani.
Sulaiman does not favor the re-formation of the WBC into another alphabet organization. He ragrds the WBC as a valuable trademark, and does not want the years of the organization's existence to go to waste.
But what if they DID tranform themselves into another organization? Since the WBC did not violate the Ali Act in the Rocchigiani matter (simply because it didn't exist at the time), there would be very little justification for the ABC and/or the Federal Trade Commission to refuse to accept their submission of rules, ratings criteria, etc., even if it were known that it was the creation of something with the same structure and personnel as the WBC, and an obvious attempt to circumvent a judgment that was rendered against them in a court of law.
If that had happened, and if Rocchigiani had been unable to collect as a result, it would be sending an interesting message indeed - that sanctioning bodies could manipulate ratings and titles, then at the first sign of the repercussions from such actions, shut down and regroup as a new identity, without having to worry about any pre-emptive action being imposed on them by regulators. And there wouldn't be a whole lot that could be done about it.
Sounds like a damn good argument for the licensing of sanctioning bodies.
Anyway, I gues we have a sufficient explanation as to why Sulaiman sued Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson, et al, for a total of $56 million. Now, for a few words about THAT lawsuit........
Kushner meant that in the sense that Mercer has a tendency to finish everything he starts.
The only time he leaves a fight early is when there’s no one left standing he can take a swing at.
The tough cookie is expected to have a tough fight Saturday night in Atlantic City.
“This is going to be a very, very good fight,’’ Kushner said Wednesday on a conference call promoting the fight between Mercer (30-4-1, 22 KO’s) and Wladimir Klitschko (38-1, 35 KO’s) for Klitschko’s WBO heavyweight title.
“This fight could make Wladimir a better fighter and bring him more respect around the world.’’
That shouldn’t be tough.
The only respect Klitschko has been getting so far has come from the guys he’s knocked silly. But that’s because he’s not from here and that makes him different.
He’s from the Ukraine and lives in Germany and if you speak with a strange accent and you have to catch a boat or a plane to get here, we don’t pay too much attention to you.
That’s why - until he beat Mike Tyson - half the country didn’t know who Lennox Lewis was and the other half didn’t care. But you might want to pay attention to Klitschko.
“Everything is going well,’’ he said of his training. “It was very tough preparation for eight weeks.
The preparation is the proper thing. The fight will be much lighter. But about my opponent Ray Mercer, he is a famous guy and everybody knows he is very tough with a strong chin.
He was in very good shape for his last fight. I saw him (Wednesday) at the press conference and he was very quiet.
He must be concentrated on the fight because he lost weight and he’s in real good shape and good form now. I think you’ll see a really good and very interesting fight.’’
That’s it? No trash talk? No jive? No family threats?
Wladimir, this is America. You can bad-mouth anyone you want. It’s expected, almost mandatory.
“I’m very happy it’s the last week before the fight,’’ he went on. “It’s so boring preparing for a fight for eight weeks and it’s very difficult. I’m glad my preparation is behind me and I’m getting a chance to fight.’’
C’mon, Wladimir, let ‘em have it.
Don’t hold it in. It’s not healthy.
This is the fight game. Spit it out.
Tell Ray how you hate the way he walks and talks, how you can’t stand the name Ray, how the only thing that will be “Merciless’’ in the ring Saturday night is your right hand hammering out a swan song on his ugly, 41-year-old face.
C’mon, Wladimir. We’re waiting.
“It will be difficult to stop this guy because he says it is his last chance and he will give it everything. It has nothing to do with him being older because he is in really good shape for his age.’’
His age? Yeah, that’s it, Wlad. Attack Mercer’s age. That’s got to tick him off.
“I have to be 100 percent concentrated on Ray Mercer. I don’t want to give him a chance to beat me.’’
Well, there it is. Straight from the shoulder. That’s about all the bad-mouthing you’re going to hear from one of the more well-mannered, intelligent fighters ever to stroll the Boardwalk.
Trainer Tommy Brooks, who is working with both Wladimir and his older brother Vitali, put it in perspective.
“By far, these guys are the brightest stars I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with,’’ said Brooks, who has trained some of the best fighters in the world, including Tyson. “It’s like a breath of fresh air.
Tyson is the kind of guy who does what he wants to, when he wants to do it. These guys beat me to the gym. Sometimes with Tyson, you didn’t know if he was going to show up or not. But these guys want to learn.’’
"McCain, R-Ariz., has argued that unlike boxing promoters, cable television networks have not been accused of criminal behavior that would justify increased oversight.
"We tried to address Sen. Reid's concerns," said McCain spokeswoman Pia Pialorsi. "Apparently, he is not interested in reforming boxing."
I don't know whether Ms. Pialorsi is a true idiot or not (Our research indicates her maiden name is not Zadora). But it was truly an idiotic statement to make.
This is the kind of mentality that reminds me of the way J. Edgar Hoover used to conspicuously ignore the existence of organized crime. Naturally, there was an entire subtext behind it; something that has been addressed and documented in various ways through the years.
Okay, I understand - Meyer Lansky had pictures of J. Edgar in a party dress, with makeup and eye shadow, in a "compromising position".
What I'm wondering is - what's John McCain's excuse?
What could explain McCain's reticence to recognize the networks' role in boxing, in spite of all evidence to the contrary?
Reports are that Russell Peltz, the "boxing coordinator", or whatever, for ESPN, almost got the axe this past week. Some contend that although it hasn't been announced yet, he will nonetheless still get it, even though our own information is that someone came to his rescue at the last minute to give him a reprieve.
His firing would have sent an effective message to those sympathetic to McCain's view, and his bill, that sticking your head in the sand insofar as the regulation of networks is concerned is a silly posture indeed.
Hopefully, that message will become clear soon enough.
Two years ago, we made it known that the FBI was conducting an inquiry into Peltz' activities at ESPN, in what was more an FTC-related issue than anything else. Peltz' conflicts of interest had been no secret inside the industry previous to that. Other reports followed, which can be easily accessed through "Operation Cleanup".
Even with all this, Peltz' advice and input have still been sought out by those working on the ill-fated new piece of legislation, including McCain's "right-hand man" on boxing, government attorney Kenneth Nahigian.
Well, Nahigian had been "turned on" to Peltz by Greg Sirb, the executive director of the Pennsylvania commission - a voice who is very influential with Nahigian, and who is pushing hard to become the national boxing "czar", should McCain's legislation ever pass.
Peltz is licensed within Sirb's jurisdiction. The promotional contracts signed between Peltz and his fighters are governed by Pennsylvania law, and presumably they are registered with Sirb's office. It has become clear, through interviews we have done with fighters and managers, that Peltz has attempted to leverage his privileged position with ESPN for the purposes of signing fighters to promotional deals. No question this arouses suspicion. Yet there has never been so much as an inquiry into such behavior from the man who feels he can help to "reform boxing".
And it's always been a little conspicuous that McCain's bill has consciously avoided the issue of television networks and the role they play in the boxing landscape, to the point where it has caused a riff between McCain and fellow Senator Harry Reid that might ultimately lead to the death of McCain's legislation.
Indeed, comments like those listed above by the McCain staffer are bizarre, to put it gently.
According to Reid's bill,
"The term 'promoter' means any person licensed under this Act -
(A) to hold, give, or otherwise conduct a boxing match, program, or exhibition, or
(B) to BROADCAST a boxing match.
McCain had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into making a change in his bill, in a lame attempt to "accommodate" Reid (without consulting him, of course). With the change, it now says:
"PROMOTER. The term `promoter' means the person primarily responsible for organizing, promoting, and producing a professional boxing match. The term `promoter' does not include a premium or other cable or satellite program service, hotel, casino, resort, or other commercial establishment hosting or sponsoring a professional boxing match unless:
(A) the premium or other cable or satellite program service, hotel, casino, resort, or other commercial establishment is primarily responsible for organizing, promoting, and producing has a promotional agreement with a boxer in the match; and
(B) there is no other person primarily responsible for organizing, promoting, and producing the match not affiliated with the premium or other cable or satellite program service, hotel, casino, resort, or other commercial establishment."
There is still quite a bit of difference between Reid's rather rigid standard and McCain's watered-down version. And Reid is not fooled in the least by it. Of course, I lean more toward Reid's way of thinking here. But my feeling is that the true definition of the network's role lies somewhere in the middle, and should be addressed in a way that neither side has gotten a handle on yet. Rather than consider the network as the promoter, I'd rather deal with the network as an entity which has the capacity to manipulate the proverbial playing field - to create favorable situations for one promoter over the other, often with an "under-the-table" financial incentive in mind. That's where you find more of a problem.
There is no question as to the prominent role of television on boxing. And there is at least tempting evidence that the process by which fights are being bought by the networks is being corrupted; that certain TV executives have "played both sides of the fence", and that the balance of power can easily shift as a result.
Peltz has pro-actively attempted to shift this balance - in large part to himself. And he has done so unencumbered by any ethical limitations that may have been imposed on him by ESPN. Evidence exists that even if Peltz were taken out of the ESPN picture, it would not solve problems of conflict of interest at the network.
So what do you do?
It's become obvious that boxing is an industry where it is necessary to have television in order to survive, much less thrive. That automatically puts television, as an institution, in the position where it has an incredible amount of power, although networks don't quite understand the position of responsibility that goes along with it.
The way television dates are allocated to promoters has to be done in the most fair and equitable way possible. That is something that is not being done now - obviously the most highly visible culprit here is ESPN.
ESPN executives were in a position where they could have done something about it. Among the questionable practices cited by the network as it put Peltz on the hot seat:
* Double standards in terms of the acceptance and approval of fights or fighters presented to him. In other words, he would refuse to air a fight presented to him by one promoter, then turned around and used that fight on his own show or one that was promoted by one of his "associates". We cited a situation like this in
. * Refusal to grant a promoter any TV dates for the purposes of squeezing a fighter away from that promoter. A textbook example of this is found in
, a situation involving Rick Glaser and lightweight Billy Irwin which appears as if it may wind up resulting in an anti-trust suit against ESPN, Disney - its parent company, Russell Peltz, and boxing chief Bob Yalen, filed on behalf of Glaser by David Boies, the attorney who represented Microsoft in anti-trust actions and who argued for Al Gore in the Supreme Court over the election dispute.
* Collecting money fraudulently as a "promotional fee" for a fighter he had no promotional rights to, and perhaps leveraging his position with ESPN in order to do so. This is illustrated in
. * Being in direct conflict, and seeking to injure, a fighter he had a promotional contract with, in order to favor his employers. This case is explored in
. * Attempting to require that promoters give 50% of their fighters, and their operation, over to him as a condition of being granted ESPN boxing dates. This disgusting tale is told in
. In the end, they didn't pull the trigger, though they not only should have, they should have left a few more bullets in the gun.
Are John McCain - an elected representative who is supposed to be working in the public interest, and Ken Nahigian - who is empowered by McCain with the responsibility of constructing legislation that is in the sport's best interest - going to sit there with a straight face and tell us none of this is, or ever has been, an area of concern?
I suppose they are.
Oh, by the way - the individual who stood up for Peltz; who defended his activities and helped him save his job, so he could continue making a mockery of any and all ethical concerns that legitimate boxing reformers have? Well, he just happens to be one of the six candidates on the McCain/Nahigian "short list" for the job of national boxing "czar".
But not to Fernando, who spent his last days before his match with Oscar accusing his compatriot of embarrassing his Mexican roots by running in the ring and refusing to face his rivals like a true Mexican who walks in punching and "doesn't mind getting hit in return."
"He didn't fight like a true Mexican against Trinidad," proclaimed Vargas, before he faced Oscar last September 14th at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. "He fought like an American. He has an American style. He hates to fight face to face… man to man."
The fact that both boxers were born in California from Mexican parents was not the question. The issue was, apparently, that Oscar allowed himself to totally forget his roots by using his brains instead of his physique to win fights.
It was awkward for me to hear a young man with so much boxing ability say those things so sincerely. He truly believed that getting into a ring possessing heavy artillery is all a boxer needs to win the war. No, Sir, the trick is its application. Having a heavy punch means nothing if you don't know when and where to apply it -timing and accuracy.
In any event, once I was convinced that Vargas was not kidding, I decided he didn't have a chance with De La Hoya. I even predicted he could wind up unconscious due to the fact that when one has a sure plan to win in his mind and all of a sudden it fails to work, time and again, during the course of the fight, the disappointment and discouragement could be so strong as to confuse him to the point of forcing him to give up.
Don't get me wrong. Vargas is no dummy. No fighter with a record of great timing and accuracy by knocking out 90 percent of his opposition can be considered brainless. But I have no doubt in my mind that Vargas really believes the best assets in a champion's arsenal are strength, muscle and machismo. As such, Vargas concentrates his effort in developing his multiple muscles around his body, instead of the one upstairs -his brain! Although I do believe that when he's able to mix physical power with instinct he becomes one of the most dangerous boxers in the business.
During his fight with Oscar, I noticed that Vargas was obviously superseding his instincts with brute force. It was a conscious decision determined by his pre-fight genuine anger. The cold, impersonal, objective conduct expected of champions…well, Vargas didn't have it that night. His total confidence in his physical mechanism ruled him all the way throughout the making and conclusion of this match. He didn't allow a place for his natural forces to act and react. He was constantly playing the macho-man, insisting that at the end he would exit triumphantly as planned by himself.
Paradoxically, the fight was never one-sided. It was a competitive match that anyone who knew boxing could not predict with complete assuredness by the sixth or seventh rounds, who would emerge the winner. In fact, when De La Hoya finally knocked Vargas out in the 11th round, two of the three judges had Oscar winning by two points; one had Vargas by three.
One could argue that if Vargas went up the ring with his system influenced by steroids, he was undoubtedly damaged. Consequently, he was at a disadvantage during the course of the fight. Anything that interferes with the use of one's psychological and emotional weapons in boxing competition ruins for sure one's possibility of victory.
It exists so that Nahigian, a lawyer working on behalf of John McCain, can show it to staffers who represent United States Senators, with the intention of soliciting support for the legislation (Not that too many of the names are going to mean anything to anybody).
The list is not about producing the best qualified candidates, or in fact to arrive at anyone qualified at all. Getting the "best and the brightest" does not enter into the equation. Neither does the reality that once someone is actually nominated, they'd actually have to have the capacity to PERFORM the duties required for the job.
Forget all that. Hey, it's not like we're trying to educating people on ISSUES here. We're selling. Don't you realize that A-B-C stands NOT for Association of Boxing Commissioners, but "A-Always B-Be C-Closing"?
This is a shell game, more than anything else - it's about the art of deception. Let's point someone in THIS direction, so they won't see what's really happening in the other direction.
Nothing like a good ol' "dog-and-pony show" right? I mean, it's not as if the May 22 Senate hearings were about gathering input for the purposes of constructing a useful piece of legislation. After all, for all intents and purposes the bill had already been written BEFORE the hearings. But wasn't it cool having Muhammad Ali there?
I don't know; maybe I'm naive. Maybe the entire list, in and of itself, is an exercise in deception. Maybe there's a better list, with more serious names, sitting in a safety deposit box somewhere. It must be, because I can't help wondering just how in the world Ken Nahigian honestly believes he can sneak some of these people through a Senate confirmation hearing.
Do you think Nahigian can get enough United States Senators to look the other way for that long?
It may be time to introduce Mr. Nahigian to two words that should undoubtedly be part of his vocabulary:
Thankfully, most of Nahigian's candidates probably wouldn't get far past the mountain of paperwork anyway. One of the forms any nominee for a Senate confirmation must complete is the "White House Personal Data Statement". Here are two of the questions that appear on that form:
"Do you know anyone or any organization that might take any steps, overtly or covertly, fairly or unfairly, to criticize your appointment? If so, please explain."
"Is there any other information, including information about other members of your family, that could be considered a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President?"
If I can be so bold, allow me to help some of the potential nominees with those answers.
"Yes", and "yes".
Please take my word for it.
Let's review the list one-by-one, in alphabetical order:
-- Trainer of heavyweight Michael Grant; former trainer for Michael Moorer, others. Personally, I like Teddy, and think he has something valuable to contribute in the way of training fighters, and as ESPN's color commentator who has "been there". But I'm not sure that contribution should manifest itself through a role as the national boxing administrator. After all, whether it's fair or not, Atlas is identified with ESPN, the sports "monster" documented in several chapters of the series as being engaged in business practices that are contrary to the best interests of boxing and quite possibly in restraint of trade. Then, there's that Thomas Williams thing, which still bothers me a little. And if McCain's people have assured him, as is the rumor, that he can have the position in Washington AND keep his job with ESPN - an entity that should be a subject of regulation and (in my opinion) very close scrutiny, then it would reaffirm that the "reform movement" of McCain and government Nahigian is a complete and total sham.
References - Chapters
-- Currently runs Texas commission. Formerly an all-around political operative of Jose Sulaiman and the World Boxing Council, not to mention its "junior organization", the North American Boxing Federation. Served as ratings chairman of both the WBC and NABF. During this period of time, operated an insurance company in which he accepted money for boxing insurance policies from clients who were also boxing promoters. These promoters would, in the normal course of doing business, lobby him and his colleagues to have their fighters rated favorably. That's a conflict of interest, but seemingly nothing that was ever self-policed. His son, Lawrence Cole, a referee who inherited the agency and who also accepts money from promoters on whose shows he officiates, and who aspires to some day run the NABF (maybe it's his birthright), is perfectly ready, willing, and able to carry on the family tradition. Dickie have a powerful ally in his corner, as he was appointed to his current position through the administration of then-Texas Governor George W. Bush.
References - Chapters
-- Chairman of the IBF's Championship Committee. Former judge and chief inspector in New York. Former police officer in New York City. Dwyer helped to supply some much-needed credibility to the IBF in the wake of the Bob Lee scandals. That was no small feat. However, he comes from a sanctioning body, and in this atmosphere, where everyone in Washington and in the ABC seems to be decidedly "anti-sanctioning body", that could work against him. Also, Dwyer makes it clear to anyone who asks that he was not put on this earth to be manipulated. While that may be a great quality for the purposes of "Operation Cleanup", it may not be what the Ken Nahigians of the world are looking for. Understands that the concept of selecting officials for championship fights can work effectively as a "give-and-take" process. Dwyer is the only candidate on this list I could possibly recommend. I hope that isn't the kiss of death.
-- Current president of the Association of Boxing Commissions. Known associate of Kentucky's "Minister of Maim", Jack Kerns, with whom he serves on the ABC Board of Directors. Supported Kerns' inclusion on the board, and his retention even after evidence surfaced about Kerns' disregard for safety and possible criminal neglect in the Greg Page case. No word on whether he would continue to consult with Kerns if he assumed a new office. Opposed to the concept of neutrality in officiating. Nice guy. Law enforcement investigator. Another one of those commissioners, though, who agreed that it is was "financially inconvenient" to have ambulances at fights - the result was a $13.7 million judgment in compensatory damages for a fighter against a Missouri hotel when he suffered brain damage as a result of the lack of available ambulance service. Only afterward was Missouri law changed to require ambulances. Learning on the job. Did an admirable thing standing up to WBC in the Indiana matter. But has taken it to the other extreme, threatening fairness in the officiating of championship fights. An increasing number of fighters and fighter advocates are unhappy about his seeming indifference toward taking on possible Ali Act violators. Could have taken more of an activist role, but hasn't. And Kerns hangs around his neck like an albatross. Hasn't been around the game that long.
References - Chapters
DR. JAMES NAVE
-- Was on Nevada State Athletic Commission for years. Also served as its chairman. Was known as an extremely "hands-on" commissioner, although we don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Former president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Notable, in that he was the only Nevada commissioner to vote against Mike Tyson when the state reinstated Tyson's boxing license in 1998. Very political. Also reportedly very cozy with Jose Sulaiman, president of the beleaguered WBC. Some may view him as being too close to the culture of sanctioning bodies, which as we mentioned, doesn't work well in this atmosphere. McCain, Nahigian & Co. really don't want him, but his appearance on this list no doubt reflects an attempt to include a "compromise candidate" to appease Nevada Senator Harry Reid, who can effectively stand in the way of the passage of McCain's legislation. Whether Nave is a "knave" remains to be seen. Let's see - do I want a veterinarian or a boxing guy to be the national boxing "czar"?
-- Administrative head of the Pennsylvania commission. On the positive side, I like his practice of conducting an "interim" weigh-in between the official weigh-in and the fight, as a way to prevent fighters from putting on too much weight during that period. "Past President" of the Association of Boxing Commissions, a position that was created for him, seemingly out of thin air. Known associate of Kentucky's "Minister of Maim", Jack Kerns, with whom he serves on the ABC Board of Directors. Did not contest Kerns' retention on the board, even after evidence surfaced about Kerns' disregard for safety and possible criminal neglect in the Greg Page case. Though he controlled the floor, did not voice an objection or even a caution about Kerns' candidacy for First Vice-President of the ABC at the 2001 convention. Has demonstrated a tendency to misinterpret the federal laws governing boxing, and has also circumvented them on occasion (okay, we're getting a little ahead of our story 'queue' there). Opposed, strongly, to the concept of neutrality in officiating. To this day, is the only commission director I've ever seen who has actually hugged the hometown fighter in the ring after a fight (what kind of message does THAT send?). Cozy with Russell Peltz, the ESPN operative/promoter engaged in very questionable business practices at the network. Has Ken Nahigian's ear, which may explain why nothing in the new legislation has offered anything in the way of a check on the activities of Peltz or others like him. Very political. Insiders associated with the ABC are concerned that he vacillates on too many issues.
5 , 18
Good thing for Nahigian - his bill won't likely pass too soon, so he'll have a lot of time to get it right.
And if it's any consolation to him - we only have about 40 more chapters to write about it :))