This is a total misconception. The fact is that there are rounds in fights in which neither combatant imposes his will or skill on his opponent. This is not wrong, nor is it odd, it's boxing. Fighters coast, or plan different strategies in various stages of the bout. Sometimes fighters end up doing this in the same round in order to set up the next round. Why must the judge decide the round if neither fighter stood out in the round. Boxing is not the hardest thing in the world to judge as long as you know what you're watching. It's pretty clear an overwhelming majority of the time who's dictating the round or tempo of the fight. However it's just as clear when neither has distinguished himself during a round and you have to split hairs deciding who to score it for; those you score even. A lot of times in major fights the first round is an even round because the fighters are just sizing each other up. For example, they'll use the jab as a range finder more than to score with, hoping they can gain a sense of their opponent and make it appear to the judges that they're fighting. Why tilt the fight based on the theory I must decide, so Fighter B had the edge because he was pushing his jab out. This penalizes Fighter A, who wasn't even hit most likely but is now down a point. This is NOT shirking out on responsibility. However making a decision on something when nothing has occurred to sway one side over the other is.
It's unfair to the fighters
Why do they force the judges to make a decision on every round awarding it to one of the fighters? Obviously, they don't know that there isn't a winner in every round. It happens sometimes when you have evenly matched fighters facing one another. There is usually a round or two in the course of the fight that neither fighter has done enough to earn the round. Why can't that be scored even? I say make the fighters earn each and every round they are awarded. If neither fighter has done anything to distinguish himself during the course of a round, then penalize them both. Being forced to award the round to one of fighters is unfair to both fighters. Why should fighter A win a round cleanly only to have it evened up by fighter B throwing a meaningless flurry towards the end of a round? Scoring a round for a fighter who you have to anguish over before giving him the round tells you all you need to know that it's most likely an even round. What you've done is put the so called loser of the round behind a point in which you're not even sure that the winner really won the round. By scoring the round even you keep both fighters equally in the fight. Why should one guy benefit from a round in which nothing happened because he threw some meaningless jabs that missed or a couple of hard shots that never came close?
Permit judges to score even rounds
Having the liberty to score rounds even would alleviate some problems and confusion. It would keep the scoring of bouts more in line with what has happened in the ring. If a judge is forced to make a decision on every round, he may have a very close fight scored lopsided. Informing the fighters that even rounds are a possibility would take away their excuses when it comes to griping over the decision. It would also force fighters to fight to earn the round and make it harder for the judges not to score in favor of the fighter who earned it. Oh, and this may provide better fights since more emphasis is being placed on earning rounds. Fighters will know that they can't get by just going through the motions. This takes away the luxury of a fighter coasting or picking spots just to steal rounds, knowing that he may not get the round with out earning it will force fighters to engage more since and even round does neither any good. The rounds will become more important since one fighter can't race out to a big early lead by throwing meaningless flurries or wild hay-makers that miss just to stand out in a round neither fighter had the edge.
Permitting boxing judges the flex ability to score even rounds will allow the judges to do their jobs fairly and accurately, resulting in fewer disputed or unpopular decisions. In other words, stop handicapping them and give them another tool to render a fair decision acceptable to the public. Thus, the fans will not be so quick to yell "fixed" over a bad decision. The bottom line is that sometimes neither fighter has done enough to merit the round. Those are even rounds. Even rounds have been part of boxing as long as the Marquess of Queensberry rules. Give judges the latitude to score them when appropriate. It's not a cop-out!!
Bernard Hopkins’ goal of 20 title defenses as a middleweight is not only possible, it’s pretty much a promise. At least as long as he keeps fighting the Carl Daniels and the Morrade Hakkars of the world.
You knew this fight was doomed shortly after you heard the name Hakkar. You had to look him up, double check the spelling of his name, see where he was from, who he might have fought.
And that’s a bad omen for a championship fight.
Hopkins’ defense for beating up Hakkar is that the Frenchman was the WBC’s mandatory challenger, and Hopkins was just doing what he had to do to hold onto his beloved belt.
That’s the easy way out, but that‘s become Hopkins‘ habit the last 18 months, or since he beat Felix Trinidad in what seems like a lifetime ago.
If you missed seeing Saturday’s beating, congratulations. It wasn’t pretty. It was like watching Rocky Balboa chase down one of those chickens. Hakkar didn’t have a prayer, and no one knew it better than Hakkar. He wasn’t so much a deer in the headlights as a frog in the path of a steamroller.
So how does a guy like that end up fighting for the undisputed middleweight championship of the world? Maybe we should ask the WBC rankings committee. I can almost hear the committee discussing who should be their No. 1 contender against Hopkins.
"Hey Larry. How about this guy Mortimer, er Mora….ah, Marauder? This Hakker fella?"
"I don’t know, Moe. Who has he fought? Anybody we know? And has he won some fights. I think the guy we make the mandatory challenger to Hopkins has to have a winning record. And why don’t we find a French guy? Oh, Hakkar is French? Great. Let‘s go with Mortimer. What do you think, Curly?"
"Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk. Coiiintly."
A top contender was born.
Who did Hakkar beat to become the WBC’s No. 1 mandatory challenger? In his last five fights before the Hopkins’ fiasco, he beat a guy named Alban Girouard who was 11-8; Ricardo Simarra who was 13-7-1; and Eliseo Nogueira who was 9-18-2.
Not recognizable names, even in their hometowns.
In his last two fights, Hakkar split with Cristian Sanavia. Apparently, that was good enough to be the No. 1 challenger against Hopkins.
Hakkar got off easy when the fight was stopped after eight rounds. He had a good payday and he didn’t get hurt and now he can go back and pay for more dance lessons, because he sure showed some slick footwork against Hopkins.
Which brings us back to The Executioner, who looked almost foolish trying to chase down the dancing Frenchman.
What Hopkins has done is taken up where Roy Jones Jr. left off, fighting guys who deliver the mail, teach school or build houses in their day jobs. And he expects the fight world to take notice and crown him as the greatest middleweight of all time.
But the only thing Hopkins is doing is robbing himself of his own legacy.
Great fighters are remembered for their great fights, not the number of stiffs they knocked out once they reached the top.
Mesi then reportedly signed a promotional agreement with Tony Holden.
Mesi had sought to get out of the deal because Leonard's organization had not made good on one component of the contract, which was to deliver a fight on HBO or Showtime by December 31 of last year. As it turns out, there was no December date being discussed, and though a fight was proposed to former heavyweight contender Michael Grant, it apparently was never brought up to Jack Mesi, Joe's father and manager.
Of course it wasn't, because one would have to wonder why in the world Mesi, who is not exactly the biggest heavyweight in the world, would consider a fight against a 6'7" guy with some ring skills to be the optimum career move, especially as there were plenty of other people he could have fought.
A fight with Frans Botha was subsequently discussed, but SRLB was never able to deliver on that fight.
So Mesi decided to walk.
Both sides are compelled to stay silent about the settlement, but it looks like $100,000 was the price tag for Mesi's freedom.
That'll turn out to be a bargain.
We have written at length, both in "Operation Cleanup: A Blueprint for Boxing Reform" and this volume, about what we perceive to be the inherent dishonesty of Bjorn Rebney, president of Sugar Ray Leonard Boxing. None of the claims coming out of the Mesi camp sound foreign. And juxtaposing some of the clauses in the contract against what really happened serves to illustrate what has gone wrong in SRL's relationship not just with Mesi but in every fighter the company has dealt with.
Mesi's contract with SRLB not only guaranteed four fights during the calendar year 2002, but also what kind of fights they would be, and/or where they would be.
For example, the contract specifies that "Bout #2 shall take place on June 7, 2002 at the Turning Stone Casino during the Boxing Hall of Fame weekend on Sugar Ray Leonard Presents ESPN2's Friday Night Fights and shall be a ten (10) or twelve (12) round Main Event bout. The purse for this bout shall be a minimum of $30,000.00."
Well, when he wrote this contract, Rebney, an attorney, had no guarantees or commitments from Turning Stone regarding the June bout. In fact, there were no substantive conversations. Besides, promoter Mike Acri had put on the show at Turning Stone during Hall of Fame weekend for the last six years, with the exception of 2001, when the Ali-Frazier women's fight took place. Did Rebney ever endeavor to contact Acri to place Mesi on this show? No, he did not.
Instead, what he chose to do, after Acri was in place, was to directly approach the Oneida Indian Nation, which runs Turning Stone, and demand a site fee of $118,000 for the ESPN show. He was politely turned down.
That led Rebney on a mad search for a site. The people of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina came to his rescue, with $75,000 in front money to serve as hosts for the June show, which was to include Mesi in the main event. Rebney never produced the card in Myrtle Beach, but never returned the money either, leading to a nasty legal entanglement, which includes a "cease and desist" order from the state of South Carolina.
The point is, though, that Rebney had no reservations (pardon the pun) whatsoever about guaranteeing a site for a fight that he could in no way assure anyone he could produce. Given those parameters, any misrepresentation is believable.
Under the Mesi agreement, the purse for Bout #3 "shall be $35,000.00 or the parties would split the net revenue generated by the event - 60% Athlete and 40% SRLB, whichever is greater (I had to add the punctuation)."
The problem is, it was Rebney's full intention that this "net revenue" would not include the television money realized from the fight - $52,000, or thereabouts, as per the company's contract with ESPN. Rebney told the camp, "Oh no, that's Ray's money", which, translated, means - "We will be absolutely delighted to grab 40% of a live gate figure that Joe Mesi is 100% responsible for generating; an amount of money which, in fact, could have been attained with or without our involvement. In other words, a 40% 'tax' is a small price to pay for being associated with the great Sugar Ray Leonard, regardless of whether his presence means jackshit in the city of Buffalo."
So what gives someone like Rebney the idea that he has that kind of leverage?
Well, perhaps that's something John McCain, the great protector of television interests in boxing, should be clued into. You see, SRLB's strength with Mesi resided almost completely in the fact that it appeared to be the most painless way for the heavyweight to get himself onto ESPN. Mesi, who was 21-0, drawing considerable crowds, and breaking into the rankings before becoming involved with Leonard's group, somehow could not get a date with ESPN on his own.
Instead, he was "encouraged" to get together with one of the promoters who was already "doing business" with the network at the time, i.e., Russell Peltz, Arthur Pelullo, and SRL/Bjorn Rebney.
For the uninitiated, that is NOT exactly analogous to walking into a room and being given the choice of sleeping with Heather Graham, Charlize Theron, or Denise Richards.
There's obviously something wrong with the picture. You can debate the actual abilities of Mesi all day long, but the fact is, he brings something to the table that most fighters don't - a "hometown" atmosphere and strength as a ticket-seller. As long as he was willing to fight opponents the caliber of Talmadge Griffis and David Izon, why SHOULDN'T the network have been willing to do business with him?
I can't answer that question. ESPN probably WOULDN'T answer that question. But no doubt, somewhere down the line, there's going to be a situation where a lawsuit ISN'T settled, and a question similar to it is going to have to be answered in a courtroom.
At that point, McCain, and the others who think like him, may very well get a taste of how foolish they've really been.
Offers for the fledgling sanctioning body have been put on hold - for now. The Moose is loose - and he's wreaking havoc on all those so-called "champions" his group has been placating thus far.
OPERATION CLEANUP has learned, through reliable sources, that not only have two of the IBU's titleholders - Peter Manfredo and Adnan Serin - been stripped by the organization, but there will be more strippings to come, which may spell bad news for Ray Oliveira, Gary Balletto, and others. It is the first step in upgrading the IBU championships to a point where they can be world-class, ready to compete with the likes of the WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO, for the attention of the television networks - HBO in particular - which, judging from its insistence on the inclusion of an alphabet title match on Lou DiBella's recent "Monday Night Fights" pay-per-view telecast, appear ready to re-embrace sanctioning bodies as a "necessary evil".
Lewis is dead serious, indicating that even vacant titles may be stripped, as he is determined to cut a swath through his organixation.
Evidently, the heavyweight crown was taken from the estimable Serin because of failure to meet the mandatory obligation to defend his title. As a result of his unwillingness to meet this obligation, chaos ensued. Jeremy Williams, the #1 contender, was waiting in the wings so long for his championship opportunity that he was forced to take a fight with Alfred Cole (remember him?), which resulted in a ten-round draw in January. Second-rated Ray Mercer hasn't won a fight in over a year, and was waiting, waiting, and waiting, to the point where he has taken a fight with Robert Wiggins just to stay active.
Derek Bryant, the #4 contender, also had to wait, and as a result lost a decision last night to Erick Kirkland. The same problem forced Charles Shufford, the 6th-ranked challenger, into a fight with Lawrence Clay-Bey, which he lost as well. Maurice Harris, who was rated fifth, had to take a bout with Fres Oquendo which yielded much less of a financial opportunity than a prospective bout with Serin, and was knocked out in controversial fashion. Rob Calloway, another top ten contender, lost to Audley Harrison in England. And Corrie Sanders, who was rated #3 on the most recent heavyweight list, had to take a step down to fight Wladimir Klitschko, which resulted in his winning the lightly-regarded WBO belt, although he would have much preferred to challenge Serin. This would present a major problem, except for the fact that Lewis doesn't recall whether he had placed CORRIE Sanders, the South African, or COREY Sanders, the Washington DC native, in his heavyweight ratings.
You can see what kind of confusion this can create across the heavyweight landscape.
Obviously, Lewis wants to avoid this in the future. And he would like to make it clear that despite the name his organization carries, he is not getting into the "boxers' union" business, as groups such as the Boxers Organizing Committee and F.I.S.T. are involved in. But his concept would benefit fighters, for sure.
Ultimately, the goal is to have the two best fighters in each division - without exception - box off for a series of IBU championships, in a series packaged for television, at which point networks would be invited to bid on the series in its entirety. We salute him in this effort.
And because of that, we at TOTAL ACTION may commit our own resources to make the Moose's vision come to fruition.
Growth in the industry - the right kind of growth, that is - has always been our objective, despite what some nay-sayers may contend. That is why the worldwide "Experts Poll", which we detailed in the Chapter 74 of OPERATION CLEANUP and which will be going into effect this coming month, is strongly considering throwing its complete support behind the efforts of Lewis to clean up his own organization, and the entire sport.
And here's the best part - all of the sanctioning fees generated by this relationship will be donated to charity. Lewis (who is no relation to Lennox) has earmarked one in particular - Children's Health Care of Atlanta.
In the context of the overall issue we address here - which is, after all, reforming boxing and making it a better place to do business - this has to be considered a major step forward, certainly one that will please John McCain, Teddy Atlas, Greg Sirb, and everyone else who seems to be just as committed. My only hope is that all of you who are sincere about making improvements to the "sweet science" get behind these efforts, not just with your moral support, but financially as well. Please send your contributions to the IBU's corporate offices at: P.O. Box 550087, Atlanta, GA 30355.
No contribution is too small, as funds are needed to update the IBU website.
This is a scary thing to realize, that the spiritual cheerleader in your corner for all these years isn’t who you really thought he was, that he might have a darker side you never saw before.
This "El Diablo" character wasn’t really what Angel was looking for, though they‘d been through some tough times together.
So after some particularly rough years, Angel jumped to the other side. He put away his pitchfork and his devil image - stomped on them, really - and dove head-first into what might be called a religious fervor. And that’s where he lives now, deep in the web of the Lord.
This doesn‘t mean Angel goes to church every Sunday and tosses an extra 25 bucks when they pass the tray around. It means he’s never out of church. He carries his religious beliefs with him at all times like the rest of us carry our wallet or our keys. It might get a little old, but he’s never more than a short paragraph of quotes away from Jesus Christ. Apparently, Angel (40-6-1, 29 KOs) discovered that Jesus was a much better cornerman than the beast with the horns and the forked tail and the sadistic sense of humor.
He’s pretty sure there will be some extra help in his corner this Monday when he fights Moises Pedroza (23-4-1, 20 KOs) of Colombia in Little Rock, Arkansas. Of course, he’ll probably be the first to tell you that Moises could also have a little extra help. God doesn’t pick sides in a prize fight.
If you’ve never seen Angel fight, you should know that he’s a walking billboard for every tattoo joint in Gary, Indiana, Angel’s place of birth. You get the feeling the students at the Acme School of Body Piercing and Tattooing used him for practice.
He also has a shaved head which makes him look menacing, like someone who is about to rob a pawn shop. But then you remember who he is and what he believes and he suddenly reminds you of a Mongolian monk in shorts.
But if religion works for Angel, that’s fine. Sometimes, when people start to feel themselves slipping into the abyss, they have to have something to grab onto. And Angel was apparently close to falling in when he tried to commit suicide a few years ago after losing a fight to Stevie Johnston. So he grabbed onto religion and pulled himself up and now he still holds it tight. It keeps him from falling in again.
The fight game has never been a popular stopping point for religious zealots. It’s a brutal, violent sport with more than its share of bad guys with bad intentions. You figure God doesn’t spend a lot of time there.
Then you think of Angel Manfredy and you know better.
But what happened a few weeks ago in Germany, where Wladimir Klitschko was stopped in stunning fashion by Corrie Sanders, still stands out in his mind. Merchant, had been one of the biggest advocates of Klitschko. He wasn't just on the bandwagon, he was driving it.
" I've gone from being stunned to accepting," reflected Merchant, on the rise and fall and fall and fall of the big Ukrainian." Once you're away from the arena after a shock like that and you start to try to put things in some perspective."
And Merchant looked back on other heavyweights that suffered devastating defeats, who then dusted themselves off to accomplish some big things afterwards.
" Nine years before, Lennox Lewis, knocked out by Oliver McCall, arguably not even as good as Corrie Sanders," Merchant pointed out." David Tua, losing to Lewis and Chris Byrd. Michael Grant getting knocked out, just like Lewis-McCall and Klitschko-Sanders. We've seen Rahman getting stopped by Tua and Oleg Maskaev and still making comebacks. So when you see it in that perspective and you know that these are heavyweights, stuff happens. So we realize that now we'll find out what Klitschko is made off."
Merchant also points out that in his second run as a heavyweight that George Foreman suffered losses to Tommy Morrison and Evander Holyfield before recapturing the heavyweight title from Michael Moorer in 1994.
Roy Jones made a bit of history by becoming the first middleweight to win a heavyweight title by out-classing John Ruiz to win the WBA belt. No one can deny that Jones' victory is a significant achievement but some have gone overboard in praising Jones. Some pundits like Max Kellerman, for instance, have stated that this win makes a case for Jones being the greatest fighter that ever lived. Yes, a win over John Ruiz is worth THAT much to some people. Merchant agrees that while Jones' win shouldn't be discounted, it doesn't mean that he should automatically be placed in the pantheon of men like Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis, Henry Armstrong, Muhammad Ali and Roberto Duran.
" No, I don't think so," agreed Merchant," but we have to take into account public perceptions. When Lennox Lewis fought Mike Tyson last June, one guys just short of his 36th birthday, the other guys just short of his 37th, it shouldn't have mattered that much in terms of history but the reality is that it did matter a lot to Lewis, to the perception of Lennox Lewis as the best heavyweight of his time.
" And in the same way we'd been urging, goading, prodding Roy Jones for several years to take on some serious challengers- and he did. Even if the guy was just a journeyman, he was a journeyman heavyweight. He did go 36 rounds with Evander Holyfield for whatever that was worth. So that in the public perception was really an important step. Now, the rest will be,' what will Roy do from here on out?' and it will cement his reputation as a great fighter at the lower weights." This Saturday night, Merchant will going back to his Philadelphia roots, where HBO will be televising a doubleheader featuring a heavyweight rematch between David Tua and Hasim Rahman. Also, on that card is the undisputed middleweight champion, Bernard Hopkins, who takes on his WBC mandatory challenger Morrade Hakkar. Hopkins had one of the most interesting and ubiquitous paths in recent memory. His rise to the top, fueled by distrust, anger and paranoia, was capped off by his transcendent victory over Puerto Rican superstar Felix Trinidad on September 29th, 2001. 'The Executioner' cemented his reputation as not only as one of the games best pound-for-pound performers but one of the all-time great middleweights.
But since that point, his stock has fallen as if he was boxing's version of AOL-Time Warner. All the goodwill he had built up in unifying the middleweight division and raising his profile as one the sports true renegades and mavericks has been destroyed with his actions outside the ring. He would slander his former advisor Lou DiBella- who was instrumental in guiding Hopkins into Don King's middleweight tourney- and get sued for over $610,000 by DiBella. Then he would part ways with his long time trainer Bouie Fisher, which would bring about a breach of contract lawsuit against him from Fisher. And then there were multi-fight contracts with HBO and Showtime that he turned down, resulting in him fighting only once in 2002. A relatively meaningless defense against Carl Daniels. His descent has been as stunning as his ascension.
" I think the general feeling is that Bernard's squandered it or blew it after his great victory over Trinidad and the recognition as one of the great middleweights," reflected Merchant, on Hopkins' career direction." In stepping back, I think to myself, the kind of anger and rage that drove Bernard Hopkins to be as good as he can be, to fight the powers that be, to triumph over everybody, it's something that has to come so deep from within someone. That just because you finally showed that you were right, just because you have finally reached the top of the mountain, you can't just throw it away.
" And the appearance certainly is that, that same anger and rage has undermined his ability to fully capitlize on what he did and to maybe even enjoy it."
It should be an interesting night, but just another day at the office for Merchant.
"After careful consideration the World Boxing Organization has denied Team Tua's petition to be considered available to fight WBO Heavyweight Champion Corrie Sanders, while at the same time taking part in an IBF sanctioned elimination bout to choose the mandatory challenger for International Boxing Federation titlist and former WBO Champion Chris Byrd.
According to the WBO Regulations of World Championship Contests, newly crowned Heavyweight Champion Corrie Sanders must defend his title against the best available contender no later than 120 days from the date he won the Championship. Therefore, the bout must take place no later than July 4, 2003. This is due to the fact that Sanders was not the mandatory challenger when he dethroned then Champion Wladimir Klitschko on March 8, 2003 in Hamburg Germany. Klitschko had fulfilled his mandatory obligation when he defeated number one ranked heavyweight Jameel Ben McCline on December 7, 2002.
David Tua was number one in the WBO Monthly Rankings at the time of Sander's victory over Klitschko. He was unavailable to fight for the WBO Heavyweight Title, however, because he was already contracted to face Hasim Rahman in an International Boxing Federation sanctioned elimination bout to be held on March 29, 2003. The winner would then meet IBF Champion Chris Byrd.
The World Boxing Organization cannot freeze its proceedings pending the outcome of the Tua vs. Rahman bout. If Tua wins, and decides to face WBO Champion Sanders, it would take him considerable time to rest and recover from his bout with Rahman and then prepare to face Sanders, thus not complying with the July 4 deadline set by the WBO Rules. If Rahman wins, Tua would lose his position in the rankings and with it the opportunity to face Sanders. It was therefore decided that number two ranked Lamon Brewster was the best available contender to face Sanders in the required time. After contacting all parties involved, a purse bid was announced, as requested by representatives of Champion Corrie Sander and challenger Lamon Brewster. The bid will take place March 28, 2003 at The Crown Plaza Hotel in Hamburg Germany.
Team Tua promoter Cedrik Kushner claimed he was unable to contact WBO President Francisco Valcárcel the week of March 14 to discuss this matter. Yet, even though Valcárcel was in Chicago, Illinois, supervising the bout between WBO Champion Acelino Freitas and challenger Juan Carlos Ramirez, he was in contact with the WBO main offices and could also be reached via his hotel or his cell phone.
"We believe Tua is one of the best heavyweights out there and would like for him to fight for the WBO Title," stated Valcárcel, "But the WBO Rules are clear in this matter. Sanders must face the best available contender before July 4, 2003."
As for the comments made by Tua’s co-manager, Martin Pugh, as to their intention of taking legal action to force the WBO into declaring Tua available to fight Sanders, the WBO President said, "As a practicing attorney in state and federal court for over 28 years, I recognize their right to go to court, but we must uphold the WBO bylaws and play by the rules."
The winning bid for the Corrie Sanders-Lamon Brewster WBO Heavyweight Championship Contest will be announced March 28, 2003."
Following the WBO's announcement, this press release came from the camp of David Tua:
TEAM TUA PLEADS ITS CASE AGAINST WBO TO SENATOR McCAIN
NEW YORK, NY (March 26, 2003) – Cedric Kushner has personally requested Senator John McCain to investigate the World Boxing Organization's (WBO) exclusion of it's No. 1-rated heavyweight contender, DAVID TUA, from negotiating for a mandatory challenge against WBO heavyweight champion, Corrie Sanders. Kushner is Tua's promoter.
"Something is not Kosher with the way the WBO is giving David Tua the bum's rush," said Martin Pugh, Tua's co-manager. "That is why Cedric went to a higher authority – Senator McCain."
The WBO ordered its new heavyweight champion Sanders to defend his title within 120 days of "acquisition of the title, against the Best Classified Contender Available." The problem is, the WBO is violating its own rules by ignoring its "Best Classified Contender Available" -- WBO No. 1 contender Tua. Instead, the WBO has decided that second-best is good enough – Lamon Brewster, the WBO's, No. 2-rated contender.
The WBO released a statement yesterday, which included the following: "The World Boxing Organization cannot freeze its proceedings pending the outcome of the Tua vs. Rahman bout. If Tua wins, and decides to face WBO Champion Sanders, it would take him considerable time to rest and recover from his bout with Rahman and then prepare to face Sanders, thus not complying with the July 4 deadline set by the WBO Rules."
"Now the WBO has added fortune telling to its purvey," countered Pugh. "Who are they to predetermine what David's condition will be BEFORE he fights Rahman?!!!
"The WBO declared Tua unavailable without any formal notice to him, his management or his promoter. Tua is available to negotiate and has always been available to negotiate. If Tua is the No. 1 contender and he's available to negotiate, I think it is safe to say Tua is the ‘Best Classified Contender Available.'"
Tua is scheduled to fight Hasim Rahman, at the First Union Spectrum in Philadelphia, PA, March 29. The fight will be televised on HBO's "World Championship Boxing," beginning at 10 P.M. EST / 7 P.M. PST.
On March 18, Luis Batista Salas, Chairman of the WBO Championship Committee, stated in a letter to Rodney Berman, Sanders' promoter, "We cannot await the results of this [Tua vs Rahman] for considerations of any sort but a Rahman win would not place him in the number one position. The Championship Committee has thus designated now ranked #2 Lamon Brewster for Corrie Sanders next title defense..."
"Salas states in his letter that a Rahman win would not get him rated No. 1, but what Salas conveniently omits is, that if Tua wins, Tua REMAINS the WBO No. 1 contender," said Pugh.
Salas closed the letter stating that the promoters of the two fighters, Berman and Don King [Brewster's promoter] "Must inform WBO if they wish to negotiate within a 30-day period or go to an immediate Purse Bid."
On March 19, Dana Jamison, an executive of Don King Productions, faxed a letter to Mr. Salas of the WBO requesting an immediate purse bid. Later that same day, the WBO issued a Notice of Purse Bid, scheduled for March 28 in Hamburg, Germany.
"THIRTY DAYS to negotiate," continued Pugh. "If the WBO can wait 30 days to negotiate the fight what is the harm in waiting one day to see if Tua is victorious against Rahman on Saturday? I have no problem making Tua's 30-day negotiation period inclusive of the time leading up to the Rahman fight to meet the WBO's deadline. I find it so curious that the WBO goes from a 30-day period of negotiation to a purse bid one day before David's fight against Rahman. David Tua is the ‘Best Classified Contender Available. All we ask is that the WBO adhere to its own rules and respect its own ratings."
I'm not really sure what they were looking for there. McCain doesn't have a good recent history of bringing Ali Act violations to light. Let's put it this way - he hasn't done it yet. So whether he'll do anything substantive in this case may be completely dependent upon whether there are any cheap headlines that can be garnered.
You know, the WBA has mandated Roy Jones to fight Vitali Klitschko in defense of his heavyweight title, while Klitschko had filed a legal action in an attempt to compel Lennox Lewis to defend his WBC championship against him in a mandatory situation. My understanding is that the action was dropped, but what if it was still alive, Jones committed to a fight with Klitschko, and then Klitschko won a legal decision over Lewis? Going into court would seem to be a clear statement of intention on Klitschko's part, and it could be argued that he would have left Jones high and dry.
On that basis, wouldn't the WBA have been justified in granting Jones the leeway - at least for the time being - to fight an optional defense, while the Klitschko situation was being resolved? I'm not sure there's a definitive answer. But it's a damn good question.
There is a certain similarity in the Tua situation. Clearly, in fighting an IBF-sanctioned fight, there is every intention on his part to become the IBF's mandatory challenger in the heavyweight division. But there is no guarantee that even with a win, Tua would WANT to fight Byrd, whose style confounded him the first time around, if there were another way to go. And there is certainly no guarantee that Tua wouldn't perhaps make more coin fighting Corrie Sanders in South Africa than he could fighting Byrd on U.S. soil, because of the live gate possibilities.
Understandably, he wants to have more than one option open. And just as understandably, Don King wants to narrow those options. If King can put Lamon Brewster in the ring with Sanders, as has now seemingly been mandated, and if Brewster wins, King will have two heavyweight champs under his promotional wing - Brewster and Byrd. And he's still desirous of doing extended business with both Lewis and Jones, who comprise the rest of the heavyweight landscape.
The question I have is - since when did the WBO become such a believer in its own rules? As I look at the super middleweight ratings, I see Freeman Barr as the #1 contender - the mandatory challenger for champion Joe Calzaghe. Barr has been sitting in the #1 position since May 1, 2001. That's almost two years. He has done everything the WBO has asked of him, including fighting for, winning, and defending his NABO belt. He has brought up the issue of this mandatory defense for quite some time, and has made repeated requests for purse bids; something I know because Barr's manager, Steve Canton, is a friend of mine and we have been discussing this for about as far back as I can recall. Yet Barr has never received his opportunity to fight Calzaghe.
Well, in this case, it's very simple. Because Frank Warren, one of the promoters who has his hands clutched very firmly around the WBO's collective neck, doesn't want to put the fight on. He claims he can't make any money with it. He says he can't sell it to television, etc.
That could all be correct. But you want to know something? That's Frank Warren's problem, if he wants to handle the super middleweight champion, that is. The WBO should not be making it Freeman Barr's problem. Whether Barr is a worthy #1 contender doesn't matter. The fact is - rules are rules - at least that's what the WBO would have you believe - and if Barr is the top contender, he deserves his title shot as per the WBO rules, every but as much as the WBO contends Brewster does. In fact, even more so, because Barr is #1, and has been waiting for so long.
I fully understand the economics of boxing. But TV networks shouldn't be running sanctioning bodies. And neither should promoters.
And if Frank Warren doesn't want to put his fighter into the ring with Freeman Barr, then Joe Calzaghe SHOULD BE STRIPPED OF HIS TITLE.
Under the circumstances, I hardly think the WBO has a case for hiding behind its own rules, and creating what amounts to a bogus purse bid situation, when it appears to be selectively playing to the advantage of one promoter in particular. And it probably shouldn't be allowed to do business in the United States until such time as it is ready to enforce its rules equally.
And gee, while we're at it, can someone tell me the last time Dariusz Michalczewski faced a mandatory challenger, in accordance with WBO "rules"? I must admit - I haven't done a ton of research here, but it certainly hasn't been any time in the last few years. And to my recollection, he NEVER has. Michalczewski has been permitted to fight a roster of stiffs and has-beens while leaving #1 contenders, most recently Antonio Tarver, waiting and waiting and waiting for him to come to the table.
Please understand that none of this is particularly hard to pull off when your promoter/manager (the Boxing Writers Association remembers him as their "Co-Manager of the Year") is Klaus-Peter Kohl (rhymes with "control"), who is one of the guys in charge at the WBO. That's okay - his head is big enough to wear many hats.
While you're whining about such misbehavior, though, please make note of Rule #20 in the WBO's "Regulations"
"20) EXCEPTION TO THE REGULATIONS
The World Championships Regulations shall be amended at any time, with respect to any aspect, through an exception or special case, provided the amendment is approved by the majority vote of the World Championships Committee and the Executive Committee."
That's the rule that applies here - get it?
See, I knew there was an explanation somewhere (for the uninitiated, that's called a "tongue-in-cheek" remark).
Naturally, I'm predisposed to feel a certain way about the WBO, since, after all, one of its officials once made the offer to steer one of my fighters straight into a mandatory challenger's position - in exchange for a layoff of ten grand, of course (something that was detailed in our first "Operation Cleanup" book).
So David, you've got someone potentially even better than Senator McCain on your side.
As you know by now (and if you don't, read the previous chapter), David Tua has taken strong exception to this purse bid, not only because it skips over him as a mandatory challenger, but because it is happening in a rather hasty fashion, seemingly only for purposes of preceding his IBF elimination fight with Hasim Rahman.
Sanders' people are also up in arms, because they obviously see better possibilities for their man - not just against Tua, but perhaps a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko, a unification fight against one of the other "champions", or basically anyone else under the sun aside from Brewster, who is an unknown.
If they want to protest or file suit, God bless 'em.
But they should consider themselves lucky.
Because Corrie Sanders probably isn't entitled to be in this position to begin with.
Before achieving the WBO title fight against Klitschko, Sanders had fought a grand total of three rounds in the previous 34 months. At NO TIME during that period did he appear in the world rankings of the WBO.
Part of the reason, granted, is that Sanders held the world "title" of the estimable World Boxing Union (WBU), an organization that is not permitted inside the U.S., for non-compliance with federal law here.
But even after losing that championship to Hasim Rahman in May of 2000, Sanders did not apparently do anything to merit a world rating by the WBO.
After he scored a one-round knockout win over Michael Sprott, a Britisher with so-so credentials, in November of 2001, he was not inserted into the WBO's Top 15.
When, following a year's layoff, he knocked out a mediocre fighter named Otis Tisdale in two rounds, that was not enough to earn him a world ranking either.
As he sat out time to figure out whether he wanted to retire from boxing or not, Sanders obviously did not receive ratings consideration.
It was only at such time as Rodney Berman, promoter for Sanders, commenced negotiations with Klaus-Peter Kohl, promoter for Waldimir Klitschko, and an opponent, acceptable to television (HBO) was required for Klitschko, that Sanders was conveniently inserted into the #11 position by the WBO, thus meeting the requirement for title eligibility.
The fight was agreed to around February 1st. And Sanders all of a sudden appeared in the WBO's February ratings. Mind you, this is THREE MONTHS after the insignificant win over an insignificant fighter (Tisdale), fifteen months since beating Sprott, and more than five years since his last win over a heavyweight who could even be considered world-class, that is, if you consider Ross Puritty, who was Sanders' sparring partner for the Klitschko fight, to be world-class. If you don't, then Sanders' resume was conspicuously devoid of substance. In fact, COREY Sanders - the one from Washington DC - may have better wins on his record (against Oleg Maskaev, for example).
As we pointed out in the previous chapter, Tua indeed has a legitimate beef. I suppose Sanders does too, but guess what? He should have to wait in line behind several other people besides Tua:
Lance Whitaker, Attila Levin, Kali Meehan, Georgi Kandelaki.........
.....and a guy named Hasim Rahman.
Those five are the guys who were sitting in the ratings, positioned at 11-15, before Sanders entered the ranks, without having fought during the preceding three months, and skipped right over them.
Shouldn't the WBO have to offer an explanation, if asked?
I'll be the first to admit that those first four names are not world-beaters. But there's still no accounting for their downward movement in favor of a fighter who had been so inactive.
And Rahman, of course, is a different case. He STOPPED Sanders in that May 2000 fight. And gee, what had the two fighters done between then and February 2003, when Sanders suddenly appeared above Rahman in the ratings?
Well, let's see - Sanders fought THREE rounds, beating Sprott and Tisdale.
Rahman knocked out LENNOX LEWIS. And his two losses were to Lewis and Evander Holyfield - fighters Sanders has perhaps faced - during many daydreams.
And so it goes - another illustration of the process being primarily controlled by promoters and TV networks, with the sanctioning bodies only too happy to follow the money trail. And the same goes for all of them - whether it be WBC, WBA, IBF, or WBO.
That's a fact of business. And a fact of life.
So why should the Sanders-Tua-Brewster triangle be any different?
Or should we say the Berman-Kushner-King triangle?
When ranking all-time great fighters what's more important in determining who should be ranked above who, the fighter with the better career accomplishments or the fighter who would have won had they faced each other on their best night? I don't believe there is an absolute way to justify one over the other, it's up to whomever is doing the ranking. Regarding who would have won if the fighters faced each other at their best is highly subjective. In weighing overall career accomplishments, many other variables come into play, such as title tenure, quality of opposition, how good were the best fighters they beat and who did they lose to. Whatever you place a greater value on, who would have won or who accomplished more, the debate will rage on as long as there are people and boxing.
Let's take a capsule look at two former heavyweight champions who show up on most lists of all-time greats. The two fighters are George Foreman from 1969-1977, and Larry Holmes from 1973-1986. I am not taking into consideration the comeback of either champion. Yes, Foreman did win the title back and Holmes fought for it. However, when I picture the best Foreman, it's the one from the '60s and '70s, and when I picture the best Holmes, it's the '70s and '80s version. The Foreman-Holmes comparison represents the perfect contrast. If you think the best Foreman would beat the best Holmes (as I do), does that mean when ranking them that Foreman should be higher then Holmes? Or should Holmes be above Foreman because he was more successful in keeping and defending the title, (obviously if you think prime Holmes beats prime Foreman then the contrast is void). For me, it comes down to what sways me more, the fact that I think at their best Foreman wins or the fact that Holmes was a more accomplished champion and a better overall technician.
George Foreman ( 1969-77 ) After winning the heavyweight Gold Medal in the 1968 Olympics Foreman, turned pro garnering much attention. In his fourth pro-bout he stopped rugged Chuck Wepner who was already a seasoned pro and main event fighter. By the end of 1972 Foreman was the No. 2 ranked heavyweight in the world with a gaudy record of 37-0 (34). On January 22, 1973, as a 3-1 underdog, Foreman stopped undisputed heavyweight champ "Smokin" Joe Frazier 29-0 (25) in two rounds. Foreman put Frazier down 6 times in 5 minutes of fighting in what would have to be regarded as one of the most awesome exhibitions of punching power ever seen. After two successful title defenses over Joe "King" Roman and Ken Norton Foreman loses the title after being stopped in eight rounds by former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali. After a 14 month layoff following the defeat by Ali, Foreman returns to the ring with a 5th round stoppage of hard punching Ron Lyle. Following the Lyle fight Foreman scores four consecutive knockouts over the division's top contenders including former champ Joe Frazier. On March 17, 1977 Foreman, the top ranked heavyweight in the world, loses a 12 round decision to third ranked Jimmy Young. The Foreman who fought Young is a different fighter than the one who fought Frazier, Norton and Ali. He fights Young very passively, not showing his previous aggression. Still affected by the Ali fight, he questions his stamina and lets the fight slip away. Foreman retires shortly after Young with a record of 45-2 (42). The Foreman title tenure lasted just under two years making two successful title defenses.
Larry Holmes ( 1973-86 ) After being defeated by Duane Bobick in the finals of the 1972 Olympic trials, Holmes turned pro. Without the Gold Medal around his neck he labored on undercards and worked as a sparring partner for heavyweight champions Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. On June 9, 1978, five years after his pro debut with a record of 27-0 (18), Holmes wins a 15 round split decision over newly appointed WBC heavyweight champion Ken Norton 40-4 (32). In his decision over Norton, Holmes displays a left jab not seen in the division since the heyday of Muhammad Ali. Over the next seven years, Holmes makes 20 consecutive title defenses, only Joe Louis with 25 made more. During the course of the Holmes title reign, he defeated the best of what would be considered a very mediocre heavyweight division, scoring wins over the Zanon's, Evangelista's, Rodriguez's along with impressive wins over Shavers, and old Ali and the undefeated Gerry Cooney. On September 21, 1985 after compiling a record of 48-0 (34), one shy of the 49-0 record that Rocky Marciano retired with, Holmes loses the heavyweight title when he is upset by light heavyweight champ Michael Spinks by unanimous decision. Holmes would meet Spinks again seven months later losing a split decision, this time in a fight that most media and fans felt that he won. Holmes announces his retirement in his dressing room immediately after the fight with Spinks with a record of 48-2 (34). The Holmes title tenure lasted seven years, making 20 successful title defenses.
When comparing the title tenure of Foreman and Holmes, its quite apparent that the numbers favor Holmes. Holmes held the title five years longer and made 18 more successful title defenses. As heavily as the numbers favor Holmes, they may not tell the whole story. In his title winning effort, Foreman had to beat the just turned 29-year-old Joe Frazier who was undefeated and the undisputed king of the heavyweights. Holmes won the title from the newly appointed WBC champ 34-year-old Ken Norton. Norton had already suffered four defeats, including being stopped by Jose Luis Garcia and Foreman! However Holmes, owning a huge advantage in title tenure and number of title defenses, carries much clout. That being said, can anyone deny that had Foreman fought during the Holmes era, he would have dominated. Foreman's title tenure was stopped by Muhammad Ali who is considered by many to be the greatest heavyweight champion ever, based mainly on his defeat of Foreman. In fairness to Foreman, he won the title from an all-time great (Frazier) and lost it to an all-time great (Ali). If Holmes fought in Foreman's era, would he have beat a prime Joe Frazier, or a prime George Foreman, not to mention a close to prime Ali? This is not to diminish the incredible title reign of Larry Holmes but, it does show that the overwhelming numbers he posted as champion don't tell the complete story! Regardless, career accomplishment must go to Holmes, in spite of the fact that some perceived the era to be mediocre. He did what great champions do, beat everybody who was available to fight at the time. There is a lot to be said for making 20 consecutive successful heavyweight title defenses.
WHO WOULD HAVE WON Foreman 1973-74 vs Holmes 1978-80
Obviously this is very subjective. Most times when great fighters face each other and it's a close call, styles usually play a big role in who wins. I happen to place great importance on the actual head-to-head confrontation. When I evaluate fighters in trying to decide who would win, I take them from what I thought was their very best and try to picture how a fight between them would turn out. Picking the winner in a prime Foreman vs prime Holmes match-up basically comes down to, whether Holmes can make it to the 7th round. If Holmes can extend Foreman to the 7th round and beyond his chances for victory improve significantly because of his better boxing skills and stamina. The very best Foreman was the version we saw in between his fights with Frazier and Ali. The Foreman who fought after Ali during the '70s was a different fighter. After the Ali fight he fought more measured, trying not to go out like a sprinter, he worried about his endurance, thus rendering himself less effective. The Foreman pre-Ali never would have lost to Jimmy Young, he would have tore after Young like he did Ali (some look at the Young fight as to why Holmes would do well with Foreman). The difference is that Young couldn't have endured the same assault as Ali, and I question whether Holmes would've been capable either. The best Holmes was the one who fought between Norton and Ali. Seeing how Norton, Weaver, and Shavers were able to get to Holmes and hurt him, leads me to believe the pre-Ali Foreman, who was bigger, stronger, more aggressive and a much better puncher, would have been able to get to Holmes and hurt him enough to corner him and stop him inside of four or five rounds.
WHAT SHOULD BE A BIGGER FACTOR
This is an individual preference, it isn't an exact science. I just don't think the numbers tell the whole story in every instance. Rocky Marciano retired undefeated, so if Foreman or Holmes fought the fighters that Marciano fought, could they have gone undefeated? Sonny Liston only made one successful title defense, Ezzard Charles made eight, and most historians rank Liston over Charles. How about other sports? Jerome Bettis has rushed for over three thousand more yards than Earl Campbell. Who would you rank higher? From my perspective, when I see a ranking of all-time athletes, regardless of the sport, I believe that No. 1 should be better than No. 2, and 2 should be better than No. 3. If someone ranks Joe Louis above Muhammad Ali, I think it should be because they feel he would've beat Ali had they met on their best night, not because he was champ longer or made more title defenses. Basically, when you must rate one fighter over another, what do you choose from, who had the more accomplished career or who wins if they fought?
It was sent again, immediately subsequent to that event, by Nancy Black, when she conducted an "investigation" that was in fact an insult to anyone with any level of moral sensitivity.
Jack Kerns, the chairman of the Kentucky Athletic Commission, and the man primarily responsible for the severity of the injuries that threatened Page's life, sent it again in his transparent effort to cover up his ineptitude by campaigning for the Executive Board of the Association of Boxing Commissions, refusing to talk to the people who demanded answers for his neglect, but issuing a pre-packaged story to an unwitting Kentucky Post reporter highlighting his "concern for the welfare of boxers".
It was sent by the ABC itself, when it indeed elected Kerns to its board, even after his involvement in the Page fiasco, then a year later, when, armed with full details of his utter disregard for the safety of fighters, and given the opportunity to take a positive step by removing him, refused to do so.
Finally, that message has been recently conveyed by Kentucky promoters, the Kentucky Athletic Commission, and certain individuals in the Kentucky legislature when they voiced objections to the Greg Page Act BASED ON the contention that having an ambulance present at a professional boxing match was NOT COST-EFFECTIVE.
In case you haven't guessed, that message, which has been sent in a number of different ways, is - GET LOST, FIGHTERS - YOU'RE NOTHING TO US BUT FURNITURE.
Well now it's time to send a message back, LOUD AND CLEAR - one that the ABC hasn't sent, that John McCain doesn't seem to want to send, and that Greg Sirb, the wannabe boxing "czar", who was more concerned with gathering votes to stay on the ABC board himself at the 2001 meeting than he was in some real leadership in this matter, has consciously avoided sending as well.
THAT message is - ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. If you are going to produce working conditions that are potentially unsafe, and resist any adjustments or enhancements to bring those conditions to a level that is acceptable, it is simply not going to be tolerated.
It's a message that can be delivered most effectively by one group in particular - the boxers themselves.
And with that, I am, in fact, calling for a full boycott of the state of Kentucky by ALL professional fighters, until such time as the state is willing to establish a requirement that safety conditions be improved to the point where fighters are not taking an undue risk every time they step into a Kentucky ring.
What does that entail?
Well, paraphrasing and/or embellishing on what was in the Greg Page Act:
* An ambulance, with at least one paramedic, to be present at all times * A requirement that the ringside physician be licensed, not just by the commission, but by the state board of licensure, and that the license be in good standing (no suspensions or revocations on record) * Health insurance for all fighters in order to cover injuries suffered in a match
Certainly, we'd like two physicians present at all cards, but we can live without it for now, as long as ringside is never left unattended by a physician while punches are being thrown, and that all those physicians have their proper licensure.
The ambulance, with the paramedic, is an issue on which no one should budge.
Somebody e-mailed me and asked what the big deal was about having the ambulance there as opposed to EMT's. Well, an ambulance isn't necessarily accompanied by anyone but a driver, but if there is at least one paramedic coming with that ambulance, the difference is:
* Even the "EMT 2", which is the more experienced Emergency Medical Technician, has only about 75-100 hours of training. The paramedic has over SIX HUNDRED. Unlike an EMT, the paramedic can make diagnoses, administering all kinds of fluids and medication, with the ability and authority to follow protocols for administering the drugs. In effect, he/she is an extension of the emergency room out in the field.
In short, under certain circumstances, it could be the difference between life and death.
What you've got to understand is that these are two trained people HITTING EACH OTHER IN THE HEAD.
Ambulance + Paramedics = NECESSARY
An atmosphere that includes anything less than the aforementioned safety components constitutes a workplace that is potentially unsafe, a state of affairs that should be of at least some concern to the following organizations, all of whom have represented themselves to be looking out for the best interests of boxing and whom I will prevail upon to offer their support:
THE BOXERS' ORGANIZING COMMITTEE -- Paul Johnson, head of this fledgling boxers' union, has already pledged his support to this campaign. "It's what we're all about," he says. "Who are we if we are not looking out for the fighters' safety?"
RETIRED BOXERS FOUNDATION -- This one, headed by Alex Ramos and Jacquie Richardson, is designed to render assistance to retired fighters, as the name implies, but they'd much prefer it if those fighters retired of their own volition, unlike Page, who had no choice, mainly due to the unsafe environment in Kentucky. Needless to say, the RBF is solidly behind this effort.
F.I.S.T. -- This organization recently aligned with the OPEIU, a union that is part of the AFL-CIO. Since the OPEIU is apparently concerned with "unsafe working conditions", this should be an issue that is right up its alley.
RING 8 -- On this organization's website, it says, "Boxers helping boxers". I'll be happy to explain how they can do that here.
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL RINGSIDE PHYSICIANS -- Exists as a "non-profit organization dedicated to the health and safety of the professional and amateur boxer". It should be noted that Dr. Michael Schwartz, head of the organization, wrote a strongly-worded letter to Kentucky Senator Gary Tapp, advocating for the improved safety measures outlined in the Greg Page Act. He is a advocate in particular of having two doctors present at all fights at all times.
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF BOXING -- In their words, the AAIB is "composed of volunteers who were willing to work to improve the image of the sport, aid in the welfare and safety of its participants, and provide a means for young people to improve their self-image." Perfect.
INTERNATIONAL PROFESSIONAL RING OFFICIALS ASSOCIATION -- Barry Druxman heads this organization, and has told us, "IPRO believes that for the safety of our fighters, every state and commission should see to it that an ambulance and at least one paramedic is at ringside at all times. Otherwise, the fighter's safety is at great risk.". Obviously, if ANY official is mindful that anything less than a safe environment existed, he/she should respectfully refuse to work such a fight.
THE ABC'S MEDICAL COMMITTEE -- I would dare say that if Dr. Paul Wallace, the chairman of this committee, who has been an advocate of ambulance services at fights, didn't come out solidly behind a boycott of Kentucky, I'd have to question the justification for the committee's very existence.
EVERY STATE BOXING COMMISSION -- My first instinct is to send a letter to Tim Lueckenhoof, urging him to distribute it to the ABC membership and collect feedback. If that particular request is refused, I will be happy to send a letter on my own to each and every boxing commission. My objective here would be to (a) create some awareness as to what their colleagues are up to; (b) ascertain how they feel about this issue, by soliciting the feedback myself; (c) hope that we might prompt some action, somewhere, somehow.
EACH MAJOR SANCTIONING BODY -- Naturally, they shouldn't be sanctioning any title fights in Kentucky. Wouldn't it be ironic, after all the bashing the ABC-types like to give them, if these guys threw their support behind a boycott based on this safety issue, while boxing commissions resisted it?
BOXING PROMOTERS -- I'm relatively sure that if you inquired with the likes of Don King, Bob Arum, Cedric Kushner, Main Events, Lou DiBella, Gary Shaw, Dan Goossen, Dino Duva, Mike Acri, Tony Holden, Jimmy Burchfield, Ballroom Boxing, Kingfish Boxing, Don Chargin, and others, they would never even DREAM of conducting a fight without an ambulance present, or go into a state that not only doesn't require it, but discourages it. Or would they? Have they? We'll find out.
Please understand that it really wouldn't matter to me if a promoter came in from out-of-state, for example, and installed an ambulance, with paramedics, at one of its fights. My concern is in disadvantaging the state, i.e., the commission, for its careless ATTITUDE about fighters.
I'm realistic enough to know that we won't be able to get all fighters to stay out of Kentucky. But I'd like to know where everyone's philosophical position on this issue. I want the message to be passed on to fighters. And frankly, I'd like to see who's willing to step out. You see, a lot of organizations created ostensibly "for the benefit of boxing" like to preach, but when it comes time to be strong, they take out their calculators, and start to think about things like, 'Who are we going to piss off?', 'Who's not going to give us money?', 'Who's going to say naughty things about us?', 'Whose friend is upset with us?', etc., etc. And then all of a sudden you've got someone with nothing but excuses.
So I guess what I'm saying is, to use an oft-beaten cliche, I already know who can talk the talk.
We'll find out soon enough who's willing to walk the walk.