Written by Frank Lotierzo
Friday, 21 March 2003 18:00
I have watched the amateur and professional boxing career of Mike Tyson since 1982. I have never seen a fighter who has been afforded so many excuses by the public. Never have I heard more fans make excuses for a fighter after suffering a loss. As of this writing he has been beaten 4 times, knocked out in three of his defeats with each one more severe, and he quit in his other defeat before he was stopped. Against Buster Douglas his fans say he threw the fight or he was drugged, why was it that they couldn't accept him being beaten. I've even heard some say Holyfield waited until Tyson was shot before facing him, which has to be the most uninformed opinion in history! It was Holyfield who was shot when he and Tyson met in November of 96. Most fail to mention that Holyfield is 4 years older then Tyson, and he has faced the very best the heavyweight division has had to offer, which cannot be said about Tyson. Holyfield also has had a much tougher career then Tyson because of him not being blessed with one punch knockout power, many of his fights turned into wars and going the distance. In fact Holyfield resurrected his career off the wins he scored over Tyson. I've even have had fans tell me that Tyson should be rated above Holyfield in the overall ranking of histories greatest heavyweight champions. How can that even be said in jest ? Not only has Holyfield clearly beaten Tyson twice but he had the better career. He's fought fighters that Tyson avoided and has faced and defeated better fighters then Tyson throughout his career, no boxing fan or historian can question this. Holyfield proved he's clearly the better fighter period, why can't some Tyson fans accept it?
How about his defeat by Lennox Lewis? Again some try to convince themselves that Mike was drugged or wasn't himself. Do you realize Frank Bruno put up a better fight vs Lewis then Tyson did. The fact of the matter is, Mike Tyson was never as good as the media or fans thought or wanted to believe he was. He's been a front runner against overmatched opponents and he's been thoroughly beat by the best fighters he's shared the ring with. A review of Tyson's career leads to only one conclusion. However physically talented he may be, he is maybe the most overrated champion in heavyweight history. He has been the loser of the three most important fights of his career, and that is not an opinion it is a fact.
When reviewing the career of Mike Tyson it must start with the exceptional job done by his management team. Tyson managers Jim Jacobs and Bill Cayton did the best marketing job in history with Tyson. Remember how they circulated a highlight tape of the fighters first 5 pro bouts to the mainstream sports media and writers. He was matched so perfectly with opponents that he would not only beat but he would look like something from out of this world in the process. Make no mistake Mr. Tyson can punch with both hands, and he is extremely fast for a fighter who hits as hard as he does. And he is a great front runner.
However, a close examination of Tyson's career reveals several telling facts indicating that he is not all that he was built up to be. His first 20 opponents are probably among the worst of any heavyweight at the start of their career. He actually fought guys who were inactive for three years and had lost their last 8-10 fights by knockout ! He won the WBC title from 32 year old Trevor Berbick in Nov 86 to become the youngest heavyweight champion in history at age 20. This is the same Berbick who was knocked out in one round by Bernardo Mercardo.
Tyson then wins the WBA title in March 87 from Bonecrusher Smith by decision, Bonecrusher was stopped in 12 rounds by Larry Holmes in Nov 84, and Tyson only decisions him 3 years later. He then goes on to win his title-unification bout with undefeated Tony Tucker by unanimous decision in August of 87, however the only fighter who was hurt or shook in the fight was Tyson by a Tucker uppercut. After a 7 round stoppage of 15-0 Tyrell Biggs he stops 38 year old Larry Holmes in 4 rounds in Jan 88. Holmes hadn't fought in two years, trained on a rowing machine and tread mill and only sparred a few times at his own gym, and had no training camp. Holmes said before the fight needed 3 million to pay off a building. The best testament to Tyson's punch is that Holmes was never stopped before or since. After Holmes Tyson goes to Tokyo to fight the human blimp Tony Tubbs. Tubbs is in such good shape he comes in at 237 pounds forfeiting a 50,000 $ bonus for not coming in 230 or below. Tyson does what he should and blows Tubbs out in two rounds.
In his next fight he beats former Lt. heavyweight champ Michael Spinks in one round in June 88, this is what his whole career is built on. Remember this is the Spinks who got a gift decision over 36 year old Holmes two years earlier in their rematch. However impressive Tyson was vs Spinks, in my book beating an old overfed Lt. heavyweight is not a pass to the Hall of Fame. After a brief marriage to Robin Givens he fights china chinned Frank Bruno in Feb 89 and TKO's him in 5. Bonecrusher Smith knocked out Bruno for a 10 count in Feb 84, Tim Witherspoon also knocked out Bruno for the count in July 86. Why is it so monumental when Tyson TKO's him 5 years after Bonecrusher and 3 years after Witherspoon. This is the hysteria I could never understand after some Tyson fights.
In July of 89 he stops Carl "The Truth" Williams in one round, (Quick hook by Ref Randy Neuman), the Truth had been KO'd for the count by Mike Weaver in 86 on Tyson-Ferguson undercard. Once again Tyson is perceived as a boxing immortal off a stoppage of a fighter who's known to have a questionable chin. Then comes Buster Douglas. Going into the Tyson fight Douglas had been KO'd in 3 of his 4 loses. In his title shot before Tyson he was KO'd by Tony Tucker, or as some have said he quit. This is some guy to lose your title against when you are about to turn 24 and in your absolute prime. Yes this is close to Tyson's prime, punchers mature much sooner then boxers do. I guess if I told you going into the fight that Douglas was in the best shape of his life and Tyson was in the worst shape of his career you would've picked the 42-1 underdog Douglas? Tyson should be eliminated from all-time status for that defeat alone. How could he get knocked out by a stiff like Douglas, I don't care how bad a shape he was in, he was in good enough shape to drop Douglas in round 8 with one right uppercut after getting shellacked up to that point in the fight. Maybe if he hung on to lose a decision it wouldn't be so terrible but he was knocked out by a STIFF, not TKO'd but KO'd. Douglas affords Tyson another record, the youngest fighter to lose the heavyweight title.
After being dethroned by Douglas Tyson scores first round knockouts over Henry Tillman and Alex Stewart, obvious confidence builders for Tyson's shattered psyche. Next is Razor Ruddock, the one arm bandit. Before talking about Tyson-Ruddock, let's not forget that Ruddock was KO'd by journeyman Dave Jaco prior to this. Tyson-Ruddock I, Tyson once again is the benefactor of quick hooked referee Richard Steele as Ruddock lives up to one arm bandit billing. However it must be said that other then a brief Ruddock flurry that shook Tyson in the 6th round Tyson was in complete command. Tyson-Ruddock II, Tyson wins a 12 round unanimous decision after dropping Ruddock in rounds two and four. Ruddock actually stands up to Tyson and Tyson accounts him self very good proving that he is the better fighter. Then after serving 3 year jail conviction for rape Tyson is released from prison and fights boxings version of murders row, starting with Peter McNeely, (Remember Ali fought Second ranked Jerry Quarry in his first fight after his exile which was 43 months, Tyson's absence was 47 months) followed by Buster Mathis Jr, Frank Bruno and Bruce Seldon as their names say just about all you need to know about them. Mathis couldn't punch, Bruno and Seldon had no chin. However we can't forget that Tyson paid Lennox Lewis 4 million $ so he didn't have to fight him, thus clearing the away for Seldon.
After the Seldon farce he fights Evander Holyfield in Nov of 96. This is Holyfield coming off the two worst fights of his life. He was KO'd by Bowe in the 3rd match up between them in Nov of 95 and couldn't even put down former middleweight Bobby Czyz in May of 96. After Holyfield is cleared by the Mayo clinic he fights Tyson. Holyfield goes on to knock Tyson down in round 6 and thoroughly kick Tyson's butt before stopping him in round 11. Oh' Holyfield hadn't scored a stoppage over a heavyweight since Bert Cooper in Nov of 91 but he stops Tyson. After one postponement he and Holyfield fight again. Tyson by quitting in this fight says more about him than if he got knocked out again. When Tyson realized that he was on his way to being stopped by Holyfield for a second consecutive time he wanted out. So he hid behind the ref crying about being head butt by Holyfield. Isn't that something, the fighter who made a career out of hitting on the break and after the bell looks to the referee to save him. Tyson is DQ'd in round 3 for biting both of Holyfield's ears. This is after a stern warning from ref Mills Lane to Tyson for biting Holyfield's ear the first time. After Tyson is threatened with disqualification he goes and bites Holyfield's other ear the very next time they clinch, he wanted out of the fight. By biting and acting crazy he saved his career because he convinced the public he was so mad at Holyfield that he wanted to injure him, he even went so far as to push Holyfield after the fight while his back was turned !
As a result of biting Holyfield the Nevada boxing commission revokes Tyson's boxing license. After 6 months of inactivity Tyson returns to the ring and fights six nondescript opponents before facing Heavyweight Champion Lennox Lewis in Memphis. The twice beaten Lewis is recognized as the worlds best heavyweight and true champion. Lewis provides Tyson a chance to redeem himself for the poor showings against Holyfield and a chance to lay claim to again being boxings premier heavyweight. Lewis suffering one punch knockout loses to Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman is thought to be just right for Tyson by some due to his chin which has come under it fair share of criticism. On June 8th 2002 Lewis inflicts Tyson with the worse beating of his career. On this night Lewis bust Tyson's face up knocking him down in round 4 and knocking him out in round 8. A sullen Tyson can only offer praise and respect to Lewis in ring center after the fight while wiping the sweat from Lewis' face with his hand. Since Lewis Tyson has fought one time, scoring a 49 second KO of Clifford Eitenne in what has been a staple of the type fight Tyson returns with following a defeat.
When evaluating Tyson the fighter it must be stated, physically he may be as gifted as any heavyweight champ in history other then Muhammad Ali. He has very quick hands that carry knockout power in both. He was somewhat elusive to hit with upper-body movement, not quite the bob and weaver as Frazier but still effective. Some have questioned his chin, I don't. He's been stopped by non-punchers in Douglas and Holyfield but this was due to absorbing many blows throughout the fight. Tyson has a sturdy chin, its what happens to him inside when he gets hit. Tyson's make up inside is his short coming, those traits identify him more then his physical skills.
I once asked Larry Merchant to compare Frazier and Tyson. He said the difference between Frazier and Tyson is, "Frazier was a mile wide and a mile deep, Tyson is a mile wide and an inch deep". When Tyson has been confronted by an opponent who came to win instead of getting paid he's folded every time !
The true test of greatness is how a fighter reacts in the face of adversity, or how he handles defeat. When Tyson has been in with fighters who caved in front of him he was a wrecking machine. He killed guys like Berbick, Stewart, Tillman, Seldon, and Francis. Who has Tyson defeated among his 50 victories that merit anybodies top ten list ? Tyson has been beaten 4 times, three times by knockout and once he quit before he was stopped. Every time he's been beaten its been worse and has followed form. A game start, however if the opponent stood up to the assault he crumbled.
As mentioned earlier, Tyson was the best hyped fighter in history. The public fell in love with him and wanted to see him register a knockout, the opponent didn't matter, it could've been anybody which is who it was a majority of the time. He's fought set-ups his entire career, not that the outcome was pre-determined but their was always and angle. Fighters were coming off long periods of inactivity, or they where tailor made for him like Eitenne. In some fights the fighters were well past their best days or in the midst of a long losing streaks. One only needs to look at the circumstance surrounding the first Holyfield fight to see that Tyson has always avoided, a true challenge. ! Holyfield was in the middle of the worst rut of his career coming off being stopped by Bowe and an awful showing against Czyz in his two previous fights. Their was no public out-cry or demand for this fight, Holyfield was not considered any more then a faded ex-champ going into his fight with Tyson. The determining factor in putting this fight together was the fact that Tyson deemed Holyfield safe, and Tyson knew Holyfield would be the fighter he would be measured against in his era. Tyson wanted a win over Holyfield, even the watered down eroded version was good enough ! After having everything in place to beat Holyfield, Holyfield proves he's the better fighter and takes him apart.
I ask, is this the body of work of an all-time great? I thought great fighters were supposed to win the so-called signature fights of their career ? The Tyson fans have all kinds of reasons and excuses for his defeats. The bottom line is that you can search all day and you'll never find that signature fight on his resume.
He's been knocked out and has quit in the biggest fights of his career, and he has no excuse other then he was not good enough. The truth is that he's more remembered for his defeats then his victories, what other great heavyweight can you say that about?
Written by Rick Folstad
Wednesday, 19 March 2003 21:00
Franchise is known as the International Boxing Union, though new ownership also purchases naming rights. Re-organizing is highly-recommended. Package deal includes web site, several championship belts, fax machine, three staplers, 12-page record book, two chairs, one folding desk and one semi-dependable desk-top computer (Apple, circa 1985). With purchase price comes opportunity to hold anonymous title fights and implement new boxing rules according to whim.
Recognized by the Association of Boxing Commissions, the IBU boasts upcoming title fights involving world famous fighters such as Richie LaMontagne, Gary Balleto and Scott Pemberton.
Not a bad deal if you’ve got a lot of free time and some extra money laying around. You could become a czar on fight night, king of your own little castle, the guy who gets to make all the rules and pick the sides.
This is nothing against the IBU. It’s probably just as good and bad as all the rest. But if I had the money, I’d buy it. I’d change the name to the Best Damn Sanctioning Body Period, or BDSBP, though it does sound like an acronym for jockey shorts.
The first thing I’d do with my new sanctioning body is rate the best fighters in the world according to how good they are, starting from the best and working my way down. This would be a bold new concept among the alphabet guys. As it is now, the WBA doesn’t rank the WBC champ and the IBF doesn’t mention the WBA champ and the …well, you know how it works. It’s like kids arguing over who gets to be first in line for dessert. Here’s an example: Lennox Lewis is the WBC champ, so he‘s not listed among the 10 best heavyweights in the world by either the WBA and the IBF. Let’s pretend he doesn’t exist while maintaining the integrity of our rankings.
I know. It’s hard to stifle your laughter.
The second thing I’d do is go back to weigh-ins on the day of the fight. They might tell you they changed the weigh-ins to the day before the fight for fighter safety, but that’s a lot of bull.
What’s safe about a fighter putting on 25 pounds overnight and getting into the ring three weight classes heavier than the guy he’s fighting? Yeah. Noon, the day of the fight.
Third, no women fighters. None, zilch, nada, el zippo. They are heartily encouraged to be ring girls, or they can even work the corner if they want. They can be Michael Buffer, promote fights, train fighters, spit in a bucket, sit at the judge’s table or be president of the Elks Club if they want. They just aren‘t allowed to fight in the BDSBP. It’s a men’s only club, lawsuits or not. I won‘t try to jump on a balance beam and I don’t want them getting punched in my ring.
Fourth, five judges instead of three. Then I’d throw out the two extreme scores and keep the middle three. It’s a lot tougher to fool a majority of five then a majority of three. It’s also a lot harder to bribe three judges instead of two. If your score gets thrown out too many times, you’ll be required to find a different line of work.
Fifth, I’d get rid of half a dozen weight divisions, like strawweight and junior flyweight and most of the super weights, like super-bantamweight and super- lightweight. There’d have to be at least seven pounds separating the divisions.
Sixth, I wouldn’t allow any promoter with the last name of King to talk to any legitimate BDSBP title contender without an attorney and a close relative present.
There are other things I’d think about changing, like going back to 15 rounds for a championship fight instead of 12, but that’s just a personal choice and I’d listen to smarter men then me tell me why I should keep it at 12.
So if the IBU doesn’t find any buyers and they decide they just want to leave it someone else’s hands, mine are wide open.
Has a good ring to it.
Written by Steve Kim
Wednesday, 19 March 2003 21:00
It seemed that despite the fact that Mosley was on a three fight non-winning streak( two losses to Vernon Forrest and a no-decision to Raul Marquez), he was more than a bit insulted that he was actually being offered less for the rematch versus 'the Golden Boy' than for the first time out in June of 2000.
Mosley, was offered a sum of $4.25 million for a second go around while he made $4.5 million for the first bout. Mosley thought, incorrectly, that just because he beat De La Hoya the first time that he should be on equal terms with him financially for the rematch. He was so insulted by the offer, he called it 'chump change' on national TV. Again, it was a classic case of a fighter not realizing that there is a huge difference between ability and marketability. And oftentimes those two things have nothing to do with just how much a fighter is worth in the marketplace.
The sad reality is for Mosley was that after his watershed victory over De La Hoya, he would come back with a knockout win over Antonio Diaz at the Theater in Madison Square Garden in front of about 4,000 folks, then he would blast out Shannon Taylor in a small ballroom at the Caesers Palace in Las Vegas that held about 2,000 and then his next bout against Adrian Stone( which turned out to be his last win) was held at an outdoor pavilion that had a capacity of around 4,500.
He wasn't exactly packing them in I'd say.
He became so disgruntled with what he thought was the sub-standard promoting job of Cedric Kushner that he hired the firm of IMG to help market and promoter his career. There was one snag though- he would lose convincingly to Forrest in his next two bouts- and suddenly his marketability, which was questionable when he was undefeated and rolling, plummeted even further.
For the bout against Marquez he would earn an astonishing $1.8 million, a classic case of HBO again, bidding against itself, which was done to ensure that Mosley would be showcased properly before a rematch with Oscar. A rematch was to have been agreed to and signed. But there was discontent even at that point as Mosley made it very clear that he felt he deserved at least eight million bucks for a rematch since he had already defeated De La Hoya. He even questioned the intentions of IMG, who's chairman Barry Frank is long time pals with Arum.
Quickly, the 'deadline' was passed and Arum talked openly of negotiating with the likes of Fernando Vargas and even the retired Felix Trinidad to engage in second bouts with his fighter. Which made great financial sense to Arum, since both of those fights figured to do much better business the second time around than a rematch with Mosley. The first encounter between the Mosley and De La Hoya generated around 600,000 buys. Contrast that to the numbers of De La Hoya-Trinidad( 1.2 million buys) and De La Hoya-Vargas( 900,000 subscribers) and you can see why Arum was so willing to go elsewhere. And here's the kicker, Mosley is still probably the toughest and most difficult fight for De La Hoya at this point. Mosley was giving Arum an opportunity to slip through a backdoor and make a deal for a more lucrative- and easier- fight.
Mosley simply didn't have much leverage. Industry sources forecast that a Mosley bout against Winky Wright would bring him no more than two million dollars at the most. He simply had nowhere else to go but back to De La Hoya for 'chump change'. But he did have a few things go his way. First, while Arum talked of making another bout with Vargas in Novemeber, the Main Event brass which promotes him, made it very clear that they would not be rushing Vargas in to another big fight for awhile. And Trinidad has seemingly convinced everyone that he is indeed, retired, for all intents and purposes.
Still, Mosley was steadfast in his refusal to make a deal. And sources say that Arum was even considering making a pay-per-view match with the relatively unknown Antonio Margarito for September. Arum's thinking being very simple: Oscar sells regardless and if you put him in there with another Mexican, even better.
But to the credit of De La Hoya, he took some bold steps to make this rematch a reality. First, he personally called Mosley and offered a wager that if he should be defeated by him for the second time he would give him a half-million out of his own purse. And if he should lose, he settles for that measley $4.25 million. Then there were reports that HBO was willing to throw in another quarter-million to make sure that Mosley was at least guaranteed the same amount he was for the first time. Then with the aid of noted boxing attorney Judd Burnstein, he would negotiate a lower landmark for Mosley to get pay-per-view upside( from 700,000 to 600,000) and other guarantees of appearances( with guaranteed minimums) on HBO in the future, win, lose or draw.
It was a great deal, especially for a fighter who is not only in need of a big fight, but a win period. It's been nearly two years since he has posted a W on his ledger. And you know what, fundamentally, it's the exact same deal he was offered back a few months ago. Think about it, if he were to win, he's at least as big as he was before he entered the Forrest and in line for more lucrative fights, and if he loses, well, HBO was still going to put him in fights anyway, most likely. The only thing that was really guaranteed to him was the extra $250,000 to his purse.
They sure went a long way, to get exactly where they were to begin with. Let's hope September 13th is as interesting and has as many ebbs and flows as the negotiations leading into the fight.
Written by Frank Lotierzo
Monday, 17 March 2003 18:00
Looking back over history, all of the top tier heavyweight champions possessed two of the three, and some of the all-time greats had all three. Going back no further then Joe Louis you can't help but notice other then Muhammad Ali, most of the respected and feared heavyweight champs carried the Big-Punch! Such as Dempsey, Louis, Marciano, Liston, Frazier, Foreman, Tyson and Lennox Lewis. Why do I bring this up ? Because currently their is an active heavyweight who possesses two of the three physical traits mentioned earlier. He has one-punch KO power in both hands, and he has a cast iron chin. I have yet to see him bothered by a single punch let alone hurt by one. His name is David Tua, and he's fighting Hasim Rahman on March 29th in what amounts to a title elimination bout. This is a rematch of their previous fight on 12/19/98 won by Tua via 10th round TKO.
When thinking of Tua, it's impossible not to think of the natural gifts he was born with. One punch power, and a great chin. These are things that heavyweights would give up ten years of their life to be blessed with. What a head start over most. Then why has the heavyweight with the biggest punch and best chin yet to capture a piece of one of the four heavyweight titles ?
A closer look at the Tua-man reveals possibly why he hasn't yet lived up to the potential and promise he showed coming off his 19 second knockout of former champ John Ruiz on 3/15/96. It's impossible not to notice that Tua has packed on 20 to 30 pounds since Ruiz. Apparently Tua bought in to the myth that added weight meant added power when in fact the opposite is true. The added weight Tua has gained has slowed him. The Tua who KO'd Ruiz had a pretty quick pair of hands which is not the case today. The added weight if it's done anything it's hindered him getting his punches off and maybe even some of the impact. Another factor keeping Tua from realizing his full potential is the fact that he's never learned how to use his short height and reach to his advantage like Joe Frazier did. In four of the more important fights in his career this has been painfully obvious. In his fights with Hasim Rahman and Fres Oquendo he was unable to get inside or cut off the ring . He moved forward following them around the ring with no head or upper body movement being a sitting duck for their jab but, he managed to land the big punch late in the fight to pull it out. His title fight with Lennox Lewis and title elimination bout with Chris Byrd also showed that he does not work the body in order to slow his opponents or corner them to set up his big shots to the head. Tua not being able to land the knockout punch in these fights led to him losing one sided decisions.
David Tua is blessed to have one punch KO power and a concrete chin. These are huge for a heavyweight to possess especially in what would be considered a pedestrian heavyweight division at best. However, he cannot continue to keep looking for the one punch knockouts. He has to learn how to use his power to slow and trap the movers and boxers that he has shown to be vulnerable against. Once again I'll refer to Frazier, he was the ultimate catch and kill fighter. In all three historic fights with Muhammad Ali, Frazier had success cutting the ring in half and bobbing and weaving underneath and inside of Ali's jab. This enabled Frazier to work Ali's body which took his legs and slowed him down to where Ali was forced to fight flat-footed at times which was to Frazier's advantage. I don't believe Tua is as good an athlete, and doesn't have the inside hand speed as Frazier but, I don't see any Muhammad Ali in todays heavyweight ranks where he needs to be as good as Frazier.
Two fighters who Tua knocked out, John Ruiz and Hasim Rahman went on to win a piece of the heavyweight title after being defeated by Tua. For Tua to have any chance to win a piece of the title he must raise his game. He must stop following his opponents around the ring looking for one punch. He must start cutting off the ring taking away the escape routes of the boxers and movers. Tua must learn to bob and weave underneath and inside of the heavyweights who have been able to keep him outside with their long jab. Another thing Tua has to concentrate on is working the body, a lost art today. By working the body he'll accomplish two things, he'll be more in range to take advantage of his short reach, and the body punching will take away the legs and stamina from the fighters who have been able to out speed and maneuver him. Just as important as the before mentioned the Tua-man must get his weight down, at 5' 10" he has no business coming into the ring carrying 245-253 pounds. This adds nothing to his game, it only takes away from it.
In two weeks Tua fights a rematch with former champ Hasim Rahman. Rahman has been screaming for a rematch since their first fight. In that fight Rahman was caught with one of Tua's signature left hooks right after the bell ending round nine and was hurt badly. He didn't recover before the start of round ten and Tua knocked him out early in the tenth round. Up until that sweeping left hook, Tua hadn't won a round. He followed Rahman all over the ring looking for one big punch to end it, while Rahman was landing his left jab at will. All Rahman has to do in the rematch is fight the exact same fight he did last time, using his jab repeatedly while moving to his left away from Tua's hook. (Oh, and keep his hands up after the bell) For Tua to win this fight he has to change his attack plan as stated earlier. Maybe tying the Tua-man to a chair for about three or four hours a day making him watch Joe Frazier in all three of his fights with Ali for a start !
It's been seven years since Tua's destructive KO of Ruiz. Sitting ringside that night I felt certain that he would've won the title or at least a piece of it by now. Tua will be 30 very soon and short, swarming, pressure type heavyweights don't last as long as their bigger counterparts. They pay a price getting inside and by 32, their best days are behind them. Tua needs only to look back to Joe Frazier and Mike Tyson to see how they lost their effectiveness as they aged, time is running ...
Written by Charles Jay
Sunday, 16 March 2003 18:00
For More Information, contact: Don "Moose" Lewis, President
International Boxing Union, Inc.
@ 404/ 365-0177
or fax 775/ 458-8685
Corporate Office Announces International Boxing Union To Be Sold !
(Atlanta, Georgia) (March 17, 2003)- Don "Moose" Lewis, President of the International Boxing Union, known as "the IBU", is pleased to announce that effective immediately bids are being taken for the sale of complete ownership of the corporation.
The IBU, a Georgia "for profit" corporation, was formed in 1995 and incorporated in 1997. Since that time, it has conducted championship fights in the United States, the Bahamas, Finland, Germany, and other countries around the world. Past and current champions include Stephan Johnson, Adnan Serin, Rachid Matumla, Dirk Wallyn, Peter Manfredo Jr., and Ray Oliveira. Upcoming IBU World Championship fights include boxers such as Richie LaMontagne, Gary Balleto, and Scott Pemberton.
"The IBU is making a great impact on the championship boxing scene. With upcoming fights in world renown venues such as Hartwell Auditorium in Helsinki, Finland and Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut along with televised fights on ESPN2 and NESN (New England Sports Network), the timing could not be better for someone to take over and continue the growth of the IBU. The groundwork has been laid in the boxing scene and with the IBU being a sanctioning body recognized by the Association of Boxing Commissions, thousands of dollars and hours could be saved with the purchase of an established entity such as us." states the President of the IBU. "Selling the IBU after all these years is a tough decision" continues Mr. Lewis "but with the opportunity to lead a new weekly syndicated boxing television show into the marketplace, a hard choice had
to be made. Rather than try to maintain partial ownership, I felt that for the IBU to become a player in boxing, a complete divesture was necessary. However, with the new television show, I will still be close to the sport." Operations will continue as usual until a suitable bid is accepted. Offers can be sent by fax, email, or postal mail. Included in the sale is the domain website and all inventory of championship belts and merchandise.
For more information on the IBU, please contact the corporate office.
This proposal, I presume, is open to one and all. As for the price, it's probably like one of those cars you see in the Auto Trader; you know, "$2000 OBO (or best offer)". Before you send a bid - by fax, email, or postal mail, as is prescribed, make sure you carefully weigh many factors, including the "goodwill" created by the organization over the years.
And consider that the "World Heavyweight Champion" is Adnan Serin, who:
* Was 8-1 as a pro when he fought for his "title"
* At that time had scored his pro wins over fighters with a combined record of 14-150
* Won a six-round decision in his most recent fight
* Is currently ranked 262nd in the world by our friends over at BoxRec.com
With those credentials, potential suitors of the IBU could no doubt bring Lennox Lewis, Chris Byrd, Roy Jones and Corrie Sanders to their knees.
Like anyone contemplating the purchase of a piece of property, if you want to be an educated consumer you should understand that the IBU is a little bit of a "fixer-upper". You'll have to make a couple of improvements here and there.
For example, you'll have to sit down and have a long talk with Razor Ruddock. According to the November 2002 ratings, the most recent the IBU has posted in public view, "Jemery" Williams is the #1 contender in the heavyweight world, while the top ten includes such luminaries as Ahmet Oner, Rob Calloway, Julius Francis, and Monte Barrett. If Williams isn't "available" to fight for the heavyweight crown, I'm guessing the call would go out to 41-year-old Ray Mercer, who despite his knockout loss at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko, did not disappoint enough to be dropped from the #2 position.
Where does Ruddock come in, you ask? Well, according to the comments at the bottom of the ratings (which I assume passes for "compliance" under the Ali Act), Monte Barrett's presence is explained in the following manner:
"Monte Barrett replaces 'Razor' Ruddock, who does not wish to be ranked at this time."
"DOES NOT WISH TO BE RANKED AT THIS TIME."
We can't be having any of that now, can we?
On the positive side, you WILL be inheriting some very loyal IBU fans. Sample this message, posted on the IBU "Fans' Forum" after the Jones-Ruiz fight, from someone named "Roman Nikkodem", who obviously has a very unique point of view:
"After watching Jones's performance tonight, I like Serin by mid-rounds KO. Jones may be slightly faster than Adnan, but Serin is quicker than Ruiz and has better footwork. He'll be able to box Jones more effectively in the center of the ring, and when he gets Jones caught on the ropes or in the corner, he's going to be able to keep him there and pile up the points. By about round 4 Jones is going to realize what kind of trouble he's in, and by round 6 or 7 this fight is going to be over -- and we will have a new era in boxing."
Another avid poster, who went by the name of "Julius Horvath", made these points:
"Jones has just stepped up to the division, so I think it would be somewhat early for him by now to fight the undisputed king of heavyweights. I would suggest first some tune-up fights against other well-recognized fighters, like for example Dirk Wallijn or Jukka Jarvinen, and if he can beat them, then a unification match with Serin can come to reality. Still, I don't think Jones could cope with the champ's superior talent, speed and intelligence, so my pick is Serin by KO in 5-6 rounds.
A case can certainly be made that Roy should have to battle his way to the top. Jones vs. either Wallijn or Jarvinen would be a spectacular fight, and a stern test of Jones's mettle. If Roy can make it past both Rambo and the Sledgehammer, then there should be absolutely no doubt that he's qualified to take on the biggest of the big guns of the division."
So you see, as an added bonus, you'll get insight on the boxing game you certainly can't find anywhere else.
Consider also that the IBU quite obviously complies with all of the age discrimination laws. It must, because fighters over the age of 40, or approaching it, are strategically placed in the upper levels of the rankings, in easy reach of championship opportunities. Let's see, besides Mercer, we've got Uriah Grant (age 41) as the #3 cruiserweight, 40-year-old Vinny Pazienza as the #4 super middleweight, with 39-year-old Tony Ayala Jr. right behind him, 42-year-old Manning Galloway in the #5 junior middleweight slot, Julio Cesar Chavez (soon to be 40) clinging to the #2 position at 140 pounds, and Jesus Salud (age 39) as #3 at junior featherweight.
Tony Tubbs, at age 44, was the #3 heavyweight in the "Intercontinental" ratings, based on, in the IBU's words, "A strong win against Michael Shanks."
Shanks, who is from my area, was 1-7 as a professional when he fought Tubbs. He's currently 2-12.
Guty Espadas is the #6 featherweight, although it's not specified whether that's Guty Espadas Senior or Junior.
At any rate, this process undoubtedly comes with AARP approval.
Here's the downside, though - if you indeed inherit the IBU, you just might have to deal with the protests of Larry Holmes, Thomas Hearns, Donnie Lalonde, Tim Witherspoon, Gene Fullmer, Max Schmeling, et al, who could argue that they too should be able to qualify for rankings based on this criteria. So don't disregard at least some possible legal expense.
There are a couple of other things potential buyers may want to take into account:
In the Intercontinental cruiserweight rankings, Ghana's Joseph Awinongya is listed as both the #1 AND #4 contender. I haven't read the IBU rules in their entirety, but I imagine that if Mike Peak (#2) and Damon Reed (#3) were unavailable, Awinongya could conceivably fight HIMSELF for the title, which is listed as "vacant". That's bound to be an attraction, not to mention a great publicity tool, in ANY corner of the civilized world. Imagine - the most significant shadow-boxing session in the history of the sport. That's box-office magic.
Oh, another thing - the junior featherweight and junior bantamweight rankings are EXACTLY the same. You may want to deal with that.
No biggie. Just put it on your "to-do" list.
Before you do that, though, digest this: according to the IBU website, "All rankings are based on the best available computerized data." That is not a misprint. I just don't know how old their computer is. All I can tell you is that it's called the "Commodore 64". Perhaps there's some patented ratings formula we've failed to recognize. That might make this deal REALLY special.
I hate to give you the hard sell, but there's a value-added part of this deal that deserves to be mentioned - something called the "Den of Carnage", a gym run in conjunction with the IBU's "sister" association, the International Wrestling Union. Listen to the description:
"Come join the only professional wrestling training center that matters -- The IWU/IBU Den Of Carnage. In the Den, our trainers will push you beyond your limitations in order to make a champion out of your pathetic carcass. Your weaknesses will became your strengths and your strengths will in turn, make you a winner. Do you want a career in boxing instead? No problem- our trainers will try to make you the next Holyfield or Lewis-provided you have the talent and internal fortitude."
You see, with control of the gym and the ratings, you can provide both training AND job placement to any boxer under your auspices.
This is simply to attractive to pass up.
If you need more enlightenment to aid you in your buying decision, let me offer the following:
In the state of Georgia, where the IBU is incorporated, it costs $15 to renew your corporation on a yearly basis.
Since we are about one-quarter of the way through the calendar year, it might make sense to pro-rate the figure, I guess, to the point where the more accurate value to place on that corporate status is $11.25.
So if you're getting ready to enter the bidding for the IBU, at least you've got someplace to start.
Written by Rick Folstad
Wednesday, 12 March 2003 21:00
More important, we thought he was unstoppable and unbeatable. King Kong on a mission, Godzilla with a one-track mind. Superman with hate in his eyes.
It was only a matter of time before the Big Bash arrived, before Wladimir and Lennox Lewis finally got into it in an all-overseas heavyweight championship fight, the young, hungry Ukrainian on the rise meets the old and fading Brit on the downside of a great career.
Then Corrie Sanders shows up. He comes from out of nowhere with nothing going for him but a big opportunity and a left hand that could buckle an elephant’s knees.
But still, he’d fought something like nine rounds in the last three years. Card girls had more ring experience then he's had in the last 35 months. Besides, he was fighting a Klitschko. The better Klitschko. He had as much chance of winning as Donald Duck.
Now he’s the WBO heavyweight champion of the world, though the WBO is still a minor-league club pretending it’s in the big leagues.
The fight was over after the first knockdown, though the record books will say it wasn’t stopped until the second round. That’s just the official version. The real demise of Wladimir occurred just about the time I sat down and popped open my first beer.
That’s when I saw this big white guy throw a wicked left hand and saw this other big white guy stumble to the canvas, trying to remember where he was and how his feet worked, trying to find a place he could go to get away from that crazy ringing in his ears.
"Hey," I thought to myself. "Sanders is already on Dizzy Street. That sure as hell can’t be Klitschko down there getting his trunks dirty. It’s got to be Sanders."
But I knew.
From that point on, it was like watching a televised mugging.
Klitschko claims he just got hit with a lucky punch, but that’s not completely true. Heavy hitters like Sanders don’t throw lucky punches. They throw crippling punches and occasionally, they land one. It’s like saying you got shot with a lucky bullet.
"I have never been hit like that," Klitschko said. "I was very surprised."
So was the rest of the world.
Ever hear of George Foreman landing a lucky punch? Ernie Shavers? Rocky Marciano? Do you think it was a lucky punch that crumbled Cliffton Etienne in Memphis last month?
"Yeah, that Tyson guy. How does he keep landing all those lucky punches?"
Hasim Rahman can land a lucky punch. Mike Tyson doesn’t understand the concept.
But to Klitschko’s credit, he’s handling the loss very well considering the money it cost him and how bad he looked in front of his hometown crowd.
He gave some kudos to Sanders and aside from calling it a lucky punch, he didn’t make excuses. He just asked for another chance, a rematch in four or five months.
"It was a good lesson for me," Klitschko said. "But I warn you (Corrie). In the rematch I will show boxing fans that I am the true champion. A true champion always comes back."
Here’s a little warning for you, Wlad. The next time around, you’re going to be facing a much more experienced fighter than you did this first time. Sanders now has almost 12 rounds of boxing under his belt in the last three years.
Written by Steve Kim
Wednesday, 12 March 2003 21:00
Klitschko's promoters at Universum and HBO- which had just inked the hulking Ukrainian to a nine-fight deal- were hyping him as boxing's next superstar. And even those who don't have any real financial stake in him were signing his praises and forecasting a bright future. 'the Ring' magazine, recently put out a special issue that had a grinning Klitschko on the cover with the title cover,' Ali... Leonard.... Tyson... Klitschko?' I don't think that question needs to be asked anymore.
Now, that isn't to say that Klitschko can't rebound to have a very productive and lucrative career, because the bottom line is that the heavyweight division right now is filled with 'has been's and 'never were's and just take a look at the career path of Lewis, himself. Like Wladimir, Lennox, has impressive physical tools and a big right hand- but a suspect chin. Lewis, has comeback from not one, but two, disastrous knockout losses to Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman, to have a Hall-of-Fame career.
And to Lewis' credit, he avenged both of his losses, what's interesting to me is that Klitschko never got around to fighting Ross Purrity, who handed him his first professional defeat back in 1997. In fact, he had his brother, Vitaly, do the dirty work for him. And when Vitaly, would quit-aly against Chris Byrd, it was big Wlad, who went Byrd hunting and avenged that loss. After this most recent Klitschko family setback, it was Vitaly who caused a stir by going up to the victorious Sanders and proclaiming that the WBO belt would soon be coming back to his family. I've heard of brotherly love, but this is ridiculous.
Wladimir, has made it crystal clear that he would like an immediate rematch with Sanders and with the cozy relationship his promoter Peter Kohl and WBO president Paco Valcarcel have, making the rematch should be a mere formality. If Wladimir gains revenge on the southpaw South African and then proceeds to mow down a few more name brand big men, all will be quickly forgotten. If he loses, well, his days as a blue-chip, world-class heavyweight our over. He will be gone and long remembered as another straight up and stiff European who didn't quite have it.
It never fails, everytime a high-profile fighter or young prospect gets upset, you get a slew of emails from fans saying, ' I told ya so' or ' I knew it all along' Yes, hindsight is 20-20 and boxing fans can predict fights- a day after they occur- like Nostradamus.
I'm not here to gloat or pat myself on the back, well, maybe juuuust a lil' bit, but this is what I said in January 2002 edition of 'the Ring' where 20 supposed experts gave their thoughts and forecasts on Wladimir Klitschko.
" Klitschko has the ability to make some noise but I'm not really a believer in the Klitschko's. Both Klitschko brothers have shown they're both frontrunners. As for Wlad, I wonder what would really happen if someone got within his reach and up in his chest. To a large degree, both Klitschko brothers have been protected by some of the guys they've fought in Europe. They're also stiff and mechanical, like Herman Munster."
Hey, even a blind squirrel can get an acorn once in awhile, I guess.
I guess world-class trainer Emanuel Steward see's the end of the road with Lennox Lewis, as he has agreed to train a pair of young and flawed jr. welterweights in Ricardo Williams and Hector Camacho Jr.
I can see him working with Williams, who has a lackadaisical approach to working out but will never shy away from a real fight once you get him inside the ring. As for 'Not-so-Macho' Camacho, this one leaves me shaking my head. Junior, simply doesn't have the required work ethic, desire, discipline and plain old toughness and grit to succeed in this sport.
We got an inkling of that when he found a way out against Jesse James Leija and his 'performance' against Omar Weis last March should have erased all doubt about this guys gumption.
Don't count on a rubber match between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward. According to one of my sources, Main Events which promotes Gatti, is only offering Ward about a third of the total money and Ward has made it clear to his management that he will not be accepting those terms.
So now it looks like Main Events, with HBO's blessing, will look at a rematch with Angel Manfredy, who beat Gatti in 1998 in an entertaining slugfest.
Just my opinion, but I think Gatti-Manfredy II is a physical mismatch that favors Gatti at 140 pounds.
The much embattled IBF took another backward step when they fired Joe Dwyer who was head of their championship committee and their rankings. 'Officer' Joe was as honest and upfront as they come in the sport and gave much needed credibility to the IBF the past few years.
So why was he let go by this organization? It seemed like he had this real disturbing habit of actually playing and abiding by the rules and not bending them when it was convenient.
The nerve of this guy. Didn't he know any better?
Written by Charles Jay
Wednesday, 12 March 2003 18:00
F.I.S.T. ANNOUNCES AFFILIATION WITH OPEIU & AFL-CIO
By Joe Sano, F.I.S.T. and Executive Director of OMCE
On February 11, 2003, the F.I.S.T. Board of Directors voted to approve an affiliation between F.I.S.T. and OPEIU, Office and Professional Employees Union, Local 153, AFL-CIO (http://www.bway.net/opeiu-153/), thus making F.I.S.T. a not-for profit guild-The Boxer's Guild. Guilds throughout time have focused on upholding fair and equitable standards for the profession while providing mutual aid and promotion of its members' common interests.
This is a bold step! Immediate benefits to F.I.S.T.'s members will be:
- F.I.S.T. members will receive all services and benefits of OPEIU, OPEIU #153 and AFL-CIO members including the $3000 death benefit, $225 disability payment as well as all Union Plus benefits, scholarships, Labor Council membership and official eligibility of our members for Consortium for Workers' Education benefits
- Access to a Health Insurance plan NYC Metro area (HMO) includes dental payments, eye care and prescription drugs (through HIP- Health Insurance Plan of New York cost is $255.18/mo individual, Individual & child(ren) $466.03, Individual and Spouse $500.32 and Family $759.99
- Members actively fighting get a FREE review of a boxer/manager contract. Such contracts will be compared to the contract principles drawn up by the Muhammed Ali boxing bill and the model contract of the Attorney Generals' Task Force on Boxing.
- Active boxer members will be able to use the OPEIU counsel for any litigation arising from these contracts at a set rate of $150 per hour.
- As stated in the by-laws of F.I.S.T. a variety of memberships will be offered to active, retired and friends of boxing. Dues will be set to include per capita payments to OPEIU international, Local 153 and to F.I.S.T. as determined by the Board of F.I.S.T. Initial dues are projected at $10 per month.
The OPEIU and the AFL-CIO have dedicated themselves to reaching out and encouraging non-traditional working people engaged as independent contractors to join the labor movement.
F.I.S.T. is proud to be part of OPEIU - one of the leading unions in the AFL-CIO
A formal announcement will be made at a New York City press conference on March 11th.
Well, the press conference was indeed held on Tuesday, and as promised, it was to announce the formation of what was referred to as a "boxers' guild".
When it comes down to it, this association will have the full force and effect of a union, at least to the extent that it can represent individuals who are independent contractors.
It should be clear that no one is inviting a bunch of fighters to come aboard for a free helping of the benefits of membership in the OPEIU. There are union dues to be paid. There are union rules that no doubt have to be adhered to. Indeed, these kinds of "benefit packages" as was listed in the press release are a key membership recruitment tool; part of an overall strategy for union organizing, as outlined at the following URL: http://126.96.36.199/frames/index.html
According to Article II of the OPEIU Constitution, “The International Union shall be devoted and dedicated to promoting, protecting and championing the legitimate struggles of professional, technical, office and clerical employees toward achieving economic well-being, their general welfare and rights as workers and citizens.”
Yes, this is a de facto union effort. But I don't wish to get into semantics here - I really wouldn't care whether this group called itself a union, a guild, an association, or an exaltation of larks. Let's call it something we can all agree on - a SUPPORT GROUP FOR ACTIVE BOXERS. For purposes of making the points contained herein, I'm more concerned with FUNCTION than anything else.
According to a MaxBoxing article, at the press conference, Gerry Cooney, the founder of F.I.S.T., said, "We respect the fighters' individuality, and the fact that they are independent contractors. We also represent the boxer's right to fair and equitable contracts modeled on the Muhammad Ali boxing bill, and the model contract spelled out by the Attorney General's Task Force on Boxing."
And Joe Sano, the current F.I.S.T. president, said, in referring to active boxers that might join the organization, "That active boxer needs our assistance in reviewing a contract, if there's a problem in litigating that contract. Then we feel that that's the best way to put our efforts at this time. That's where the industry is at."
Sano also indicated to us on Monday that an active fighter with membership in F.I.S.T. would also simultaneously have membership in the OPEIU - a union - and that, in the event a fighter within the membership was victimized by someone in violation of the Ali Act, the union would put itself in a position to offer advice and counsel to that individual, not to mention making the OPEIU union attorneys available (for a fee).
So while there is not necessarily a collective bargaining component involved, there would appear to be little doubt that the OPEIU, by definition, represents itself as an entity that would support the rights of individual fighters, if requested, in certain dealings with their so-called "employers", e.g., promoters, where there was a grievance or a certain issue of principle at stake.
I think it's important for that foundation to be established.
Not that there's anything wrong with any of that. In fact, it would appear to be a good thing indeed that fighters might have access to benefits they wouldn't have otherwise.
As far as I can tell, F.I.S.T. is a good, worthwhile organization, with the very best of intentions. Steve Farhood, one of the founders along with Cooney, is a high-quality individual who has worked hard on F.I.S.T. fund-raisers in the past.
But I wonder if any of these guys fully realize what they've potentially gotten themselves into.
The problematic aspect of this "association" starts with the F.I.S.T. Board of Directors. It includes, among others, Jay Larkin, executive producer of Showtime's sports and event programming; Ross Greenberg, president of HBO Sports; Kery Davis, vice-president of HBO, also in the "boxing department"; Bobby Czyz and Farhood, both employees of Showtime; and Lou DiBella, a promoter. Maybe I'm just guessing, but I would imagine all of these people have given financial support to F.I.S.T., or have lent their names to an effort to raise funds. And ALL of them, as indicated on the F.I.S.T. press release, had an opportunity to vote on F.I.S.T.'s association with the union.
What do these people have in common? Well, they could all, at one time or another, find themselves on the opposite side of the table in any given instance where a fighter who has signed up with F.I.S.T. - and becomes a member of the OPEIU, affiliated with the AFL-CIO - might be looking for someone to "support" his/her rights in a grievance. Obviously we're talking about grievances that involve those principle which represent something any active boxers' support group would - and should - be standing squarely behind.
Considering some of the composition of the F.I.S.T. board, this could easily represent a very clear conflict of interest, although I'm sure this must have been something unforeseen by the F.I.S.T. administrators.
But let's put it this way - if I were an operative of a "support" group for active fighters, especially one that is associated with a union, one of the most important issues on my slate would involve the principle of financial disclosure. I'd be wanting to know how much network money there was on the table for any fight involving one of my members, not only because that provides that particular fighter/member with optimum bargaining power, but because it's at least implied in the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act.
Let me show you:
"SEC. 13. REQUIRED DISCLOSURES FOR PROMOTERS.
`(b) DISCLOSURES TO THE BOXER- A promoter shall not be entitled to receive any compensation directly or indirectly in connection with a boxing match until it provides to the boxer it promotes--
`(1) the amounts of any compensation or consideration that a promoter has contracted to receive from such match"
Now, there may be differing opinions on this, but if I am involved with a boxers' support group, and I am doing the right thing by my members, my position is going to be that this includes ALL compensation or consideration, including money that comes from television networks. Sure, it's never enforced, but my posture, and an inflexible one at that, would be to do everything possible to make sure it is, wouldn't it? In fact, I would be shucking my responsibility if I didn't.
And we're not even talking about all those states which tax promoters on the television revenue they receive (the amounts vary). Those agreements obviously have to be registered with the commission to ensure that they would know how much tax to assess, and as such they should be public record. In some states, however, like Nevada, they curiously are not.
Read this, from the Nevada Statutes, and take particular note of Paragraph #4:
"NRS 467.137 PROMOTER AND NETWORK TO FILE COPY OF CONTRACTS FOR TELEVISION RIGHTS; RECORDS OF ACCOUNTS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS; ASSESSMENT OF FEE FOR LICENSE; CONFIDENTIALITY OF CONTRACT.
1. A promoter and a broadcasting network for television shall each, at least 72 hours before a contest or exhibition of unarmed combat, or combination of those events is to be held, file with the commission’s executive director a copy of all contracts entered into for the sale, lease or other exploitation of television rights for the contest or exhibition.
2. The promoter shall keep detailed records of the accounts and other documents related to his receipts from the sale, lease or other exploitation on the television rights for a contest or exhibition. The commission, at any time, may inspect these accounts and documents to determine the amount of the total gross receipts received by the promoter from the television rights.
3. If a promoter or a network fails to comply with the requirements of this section, the commission may determine the amount of the total gross receipts from the sale, lease or other exploitation of television rights for the contest or exhibition and assess the appropriate license fee pursuant to paragraph (b) of subsection 1 of NRS 467.107.
4. Each contract filed with the commission pursuant to this section is confidential and is not a public record."
As a support group, presumably interested in the welfare of active fighters, I would be campaigning for ALL that information to be available to my members, particularly if one of them came to me for some help.
But would I be campaigning so hard IF I were, at the same time, beholden to ANY board members who were boxing promoters, or boxing-related executives at television networks (sometimes referred to as the REAL promoters)? And just as importantly, if I were one of those board members who had very clear interests in this regard, would I be promoting that brand of "support" among any of the F.I.S.T. membership or administration?
The answers to those questions, my friends, are: absolutely not, and absolutely not. In fact, recent history demonstrates that networks fight as hard as they can AGAINST that kind of disclosure.
Let's take the case of Bones Adams, the former World Boxing Association junior featherweight champion who a couple of years ago filed a lawsuit against the WBA for stripping him of his title. The WBA's contention was that taking Adams' title did not necessarily diminish his ability to earn. To illustrate that, the WBA attempted to compel a third-party witness to testify. That third-party witness, coincidentally (or perhaps not) was Kery Davis, vice-president of HBO, and a member of the board of directors of F.I.S.T.
It was the WBA's claim that HBO did not necessarily pay Top Rank (Adams' promoter) any less money for the rights fee for the Adams-Paulie Ayala fight, just because Adams did not hold the WBA title. But HBO did not want Davis to testify. According to the court documents, "HBO resists this disclosure on the grounds that the information is confidential and proprietary and that its disclosure would place it at a competitive disadvantage."
HBO won that battle - primarily because Adams' attorneys did not advance the claim that, just because he didn't hold a title, he was prejudiced financially with regard to the fight with Ayala. But it was clear that HBO was not desirous of revealing that information in any manner in which it might become public, under any circumstances.
Adams tells us that despite the fact that Top Rank was his co-plaintiff in this action, he still does not know how much the promoter was paid by HBO.
It is no secret that the networks are offering strong resistance to Senator Harry Reid's contention that they be subject to licensing and regulation, and all that comes with it. They simply do not want to grant fighters access to rights fee information, and naturally, neither do promoters. In that sense, they are very much on the same page. That page just happens to be very different than that of the fighters, or anyone who would propose to advocate for them.
So, in order words, if we assume that it would be in the best interests of a fighter, for negotiation purposes, for such disclosure to be made, and networks and/or promoters feel that it would be against THEIR best interests to make those disclosures, the interests of the two parties are, by definition, in CONFLICT.
If those network executives and/or boxing promoters are board members of a "support" group for active fighters, whose interests do you think will be served in the end? It certainly wouldn't be any shock if fighters came in second place, once again. I think you'll agree that the last thing they need is to fall victim to another conflict of interest in boxing. And it would defeat the purpose of what F.I.S.T. is purporting to do.
Let me put it in plain English - if you're a fighter who is a member, whether it's as an associate or otherwise, in a union - promoters and networks are the potential ADVERSARY. And those closely involved with a union - or whatever designation it wants to use - can't be sitting on both sides of the table at the same time.
To dismiss this as being no conflict at all is tantamount to ignoring what would be a very legitimate concern for fighters. Period.
In fact, the very act of allowing the people in question to VOTE on an association with a union represents a conflict of interest, in and of itself. The proper thing, if F.I.S.T. is going to become involved on this level, might be to ask all those board members with connections to network boxing or boxing promotions to step down.
DiBella understands this, and would act accordingly if the need arose.
"Let me be clear that I am absolutely not against the unionization of fighters. That has the potential of being good for the game," he said. "But if it (F.I.S.T.) turned into something that was a de facto union, I would resign, citing a conflict of interest."
Perhaps the most appropriate thing F.I.S.T., now working on behalf of active fighters, could have done at that press conference would be to respectfully request, in the interests of boxing - and boxers, both now and in the future - that its board members take the lead in the area of financial disclosure to the constituency it represents.
How likely would that be?
In the way of conclusion, I'd also caution other groups who would propose to offer anything in the way of support for the active professional boxer to look before leaping - consider all circumstances and contemplate all associations before you jump into those philanthropic waters. Even if it's by accident, you may find yourselves potentially hurting the very people you intend to help.
Written by Charles Jay
Monday, 10 March 2003 18:00
The Greg Page Act, which was designed to improve safety conditions for fighters in the state, thus doing taking a step toward bringing this braindead commission into the 21st Century, died in that committee last Friday. It died of neglect, the same way, apparently, that a fighter must die before the issues addressed in a bill like this will ever get the kind of attention they deserve.
You would think the tragedy that happened to Page, the former WBA heavyweight champ, would have taught a useful lesson to people in elected positions. But it obviously did not. And a state that represents perhaps the worst that boxing has to offer has given every indication that it plans much more of the same.
Considering that the latest federal bill covering boxing is named after a world-renowned icon from the city of Louisville, it is a vulgar insult that people in Kentucky would take such a cavalier attitude toward something so critical.
Although some of our investigative efforts were used to compile background material in preparation for the formulation of this bill, I did not get an opportunity to read the proposed piece of legislation before it was introduced. Therefore, I guess I've got some good news, some bad news, and some tragic news to pass along to you.
The GOOD news is that the bill has some very useful provisions. It calls for:
* Two physicians to be present at all professional cards, which should be national standard
* An ambulance to be present at all times
* A requirement (which in part existed already) 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)
* The authority on the part of the ringside physician to direct a referee to stop a fight
* Weigh-ins to be conducted anywhere between eight and 24 hours before a match is to take place
* Health insurance for all fighters in order to cover injuries suffered in a match
* A requirement for malpractice insurance to cover injuries due to a physician's neglect
* A requirement that all ringside physicians have training in "ringside medicine"
* Urine tests, and tests for communicable diseases, administered to all fighters
* A more comprehensive pre-fight physical
I wish I would indeed have gotten a chance to see this bill before it was put before the Kentucky House of Representatives, because now we have the BAD news - the bill was written in a clumsy fashion, and left some holes which would have had the effect of potentially defeating its purpose.
One of the Subsections would, in effect, prohibit anyone from filling the role of trainer and manager of the same fighter. That certainly needs to be rewritten. And weigh-ins of contestants seven days in advance of a fight are prescribed - something that would be logistically impossible to oversee or enforce.
But the most glaring oversight involves paragraphs contained within Subsections 2 & 3. In Subsection 2(b) it is ordered that fighters who suffer a TKO in the past 30 days be prohibited from fighting, and in 2(c) that those who "received a knockout or suffered serious injury in the past sixty days" be prohibited from participating as well.
That's all well and good. But Subsection 3 reads like this:
"(3) A contestant whose license is suspended or revoked in any jurisdiction or who is precluded from participating in a professional match under paragraphs (b) and (c) of Subsection (2) of this section, may participate in a professional match if the commission determines the contestant is physically and mentally fit to compete. The determination of the contestant's fitness to compete shall be made only after the contestant submits proof to the commission that he or she has undergone a physical examination and any other medical and diagnostic procedures as the physician or the commission may require, and the results indicate there are no physical or mental reasons
why the contestant should not fight."
The way that is written, it actually gives the Kentucky Athletic Commission the latitude to allow a fighter to compete during a suspension period imposed by any another jurisdiction, regardless of the rules of the suspending jurisdiction, so long as the fighter passes a physical and/or mental examination that meets with Kentucky standards.
First of all, that is in conflict with federal law, which requires that (1) every commission honor medical suspensions imposed by other commissions, to the letter, and (2) only the suspending commission can remove a fighter from the suspension list, this happening only after it is notified by whatever state is contemplating licensing that fighter, and satisfied that of all of its requirements for removal are met.
Furthermore, now that we are familiar with the level of competency of the PEOPLE involved with the Kentucky commission, it can't be anything but dangerous to leave those kinds of matters completely up to their discretion, even if no federal laws stood in the way. Do you want Nancy Black (The KAC's executive director), who has been to just a handful of boxing events in her life, and has no experience whatsoever in the sport, to be able to make a judgment as to whether a fighter who has been knocked OUT can fight, say, twenty days later? Do that and you're just inviting another tragedy to happen.
That clause would have been enough for somebody to raise a legitimate objection to this bill. I must say that in all fairness, even though I would love to see some of the safety standards be implemented.
However, nobody to seemed to catch that glitch. And that leads us to the TRAGIC news - the REAL objection to this bill had nothing to do with the way it was worded, who introduced it, or who it is named after.
No, the objection lodged by the promoters, the Kentucky Athletic Commission, and even some of the politicians, was that it was TOO EXPENSIVE to require an ambulance at a boxing show; that it was TOO EXPENSIVE to require two physicians to be at a show - one to administer to injured fighters in the dressing room and the other to preside over the fights; that it was TOO EXPENSIVE to require the additional medical tests. It just goes to show you that jerkoffs are jerkoffs, and they will never learn, even if you brought in Spongebob Squarepants to explain it to them in the language of a three-year-old.
Is it true what they say about in-breeding?................
One of those people who will never learn, apparently, is one James Doolin, the former trainer for Greg Page, who was the first one who complained to the commission about the lack of a stretcher or oxygen equipment on the night of the fateful Page-Dale Crowe fight. Doolin is an opponent of the safety enhancements put forward in the Greg Page Act. All of a sudden a safer atmosphere is too expensive for him. Why? Because now Doolin's working for some asshole promoter in Louisville, that's why.
Needless to say, his testimony won't be worth much in Page's lawsuit against the Kentucky commissioners.
Meanwhile, State Senator Gary Tapp, who chairs this Committee on Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations, suggested that the proponents and opponents of this bill get together and "work out a compromise" in time for next January, which is the earliest these safety measures can be proposed again.
Let me give you a compromise that's perfectly appropriate.
Sure we'll wait until January.
But let's ban professional boxing in Kentucky in the meantime.
Copyright 2003 Total Action Inc.
Written by Charles Jay
Thursday, 06 March 2003 18:00
The Honorable John McCain
United States Senator
241 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
I was disappointed to learn of your recent letter to Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn regarding members of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. As you know, Nevada's Commission has been regarded as the authority on professional boxing for the last 20 years. It has led the country, in fact the world, in implementing terms of boxing safety and ethical treatment of fighters, promoters, and ringside personnel. Appointments to the Commission are made by the Nevada Governor with the deepest sense of duty and obligation to protect the integrity of boxing.
Dr. Tony Alamo's outstanding credentials and deep commitment to the sport of boxing are what led Governor Guinn to appoint him to the Commission in 2001. He was appointed Vice-Chairman in January of 2003. His voting record speaks to his integrity, judiciousness and intelligence, and he continually consults with the Nevada Attorney General's office and follows their directives.
Before serving as a Commissioner, Dr. Alamo served as a ringside doctor. Dr. Alamo has made it known, both in words and actions, his priorities are the health of boxers, the State of Nevada, and the state of boxing. I think you and I share his priorities, and I am personally grateful for his service.
The fact that Dr. Alamo's father, Tony Alamo Sr., is a Senior Vice-President of Mandalay Resort Group has no bearing on decisions he makes as a Commissioner on the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Dr. Alamo has no financial or other interest in the Mandalay Bay. Additionally, Dr. Alamo reads a disclaimer before functioning in his role as a Commissioner anytime Mandalay Bay is the site for a fight. At the time of Dr. Alamo's
appointment to the Commission, Governor Guinn was aware of his father working at the Mandalay Bay, yet after careful review, he concluded there was not a conflict of interest and, as I have indicated, Dr. Alamo's service on the Commission has been exemplary and beneficial to the honor of the sport.
I do not know if the intent of your letter is to bolster support for your bill to create a national regulatory commission to oversee the sport of boxing. However, I already have expressed my desire to create a national commission by authoring the National Boxing Commission Act of 2001, a bill you co-sponsored. Soon thereafter you introduced your own bill to create a national commission, and we are in agreement on the importance of such a panel.
I am confident the Nevada State Athletic Commission, under the outstanding direction of Marc Ratner, will continue to be the best commission in the sport of boxing. Our Commission not only serves as a model for a national commission but offers its support in the creation of such. And as we agree, a national commission is necessary for the future of the sport.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you wish to discuss this matter further.
United States Senator
When reading this letter, I found it most interesting that Senator Reid went out of his way to single out Tony Alamo Jr. for praise, while conspicuously leaving Luther Mack's name out of it. It's not unreasonable to be highly suspicious of that, considering that thus far, only Mack has been directly accused of any wrongdoing by the "investigative team" at ESPN.
I was curious as to what Mack thought of all that. Unfortunately, we have yet to get a response from him.
Of course, an explanation for the direction of Reid's letter may reside in the fact that just thirteen days before it was written - on February 14, to be precise - a big political fund-raiser was held for Reid at - you guessed it - Mandalay Bay. Everybody got a dinner, and everybody went to the show. For Reid, who has received a significant level of support thus far from trial attorneys but may very well need a lot of casino dollars to get re-elected next year, the opportunity to embrace this kind of issue couldn't have come at a better time.
Pandering to Alamo Jr., the son of Mandalay Bay executive/licensee Tony Alamo Sr., is the politically prudent move, especially as the Mandalay Resort Group has been known to heavily back the [political campaigns of eventual winners, including Governor Guinn himself, who, as has been highlighted in one of our earlier stories, once accepted $300,000 from the group (formerly known as Circus Circus Enterprises) in one day, through a number of subsidiary corporations.
Aside from the last two paragraphs, Reid's letter contains nothing that wasn't essentially a regurgitation of what the Governor and Attorney General have already written about the boxing commission.
But in fact, toward the end, Reid confirmed the same suspicions we've had all along - that McCain is really using this issue to push his own piece of legislation over Reid's.
Maybe this is my political naivete showing, but when Reid reminded McCain that he had co-sponsored the National Boxing Commission Act before coming out with a bill of his own, wasn't he intimating a little bit of a double cross?
It's clear McCain couldn't care less about "conflicts of interest" in Nevada except tot he extent that it helps him politically, otherwise he would have launched an "investigation' into two of the parties he seems to be offering moral support for -
ESPN and Teddy Atlas.
As far as Reid's own political motivation is concerned, I'm highly skeptical. I know he introduced the bill for the 'National Boxing Commission' some time ago. I prefer it to McCain's bill, because it sets up a committee structure on top, instead of a single boxing "czar". But I wonder whether Reid really cares about pushing his bill forward at this point, or whether he's just using it as an instrument to thwart McCain's proposed legislation. This letter only adds to my suspicions.
After all, Reid's bill has never gotten very far after he referred it to the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. And he hasn't made an attempt to introduce it in another committee, which he actually might be able to do.
It's clear that most people around boxing in Nevada do not want to see ANY boxing bill designed to create a national commission to regulate the sport. They figure they are well-organized enough to where they don't need any federal overseer to set "standards" for them. Then there are certain libertarian (small "l") principles at work also - things like, 'Keep your hands out of our casinos', 'Keep your paws off our commission', and 'Keep your nose out of our business'.
In a sense, they're correct. States like Kentucky, for example, would appear to require the existence of a federal law to force them into taking certain safety provisions that just make common sense. That's not really the case in Nevada.
Up to this point, we have been led to believe that Reid's "pet issue" is the regulation of the TV networks. Indeed, that would appear to be the dividing line between him and McCain - understandable since McCain apparently has more than just a passing financial interest in one of the television networks Reid has talked about regulating (the details of which will be revealed by one of my internet colleagues).
But would Reid be willing to ditch all that for the sake of his own re-election campaign? In other words, would he be happy enough if there were no new boxing bill at all - whether it was his or McCain's - if it meant he could beef up financial support from the casinos as a result?
I'm not going to say that the things Reid says in his letter are falsehoods, but when he makes statements like "They pick on (Bob) Arum and (Don) King. They are small potatoes compared to HBO and Showtime.", as he did to the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Royce Feour a couple of days ago, he strains credulity to a certain extent. Remember, Reid's detractors have long pointed out the generous support of interested parties like Arum and King to his campaign fund.
His message may have some level of credibility. But he is not the most credible person to be conveying that message. His allegiances are too clear to see, and like McCain, his motivations too obviously self-serving.
Copyright 2003 Total Action Inc.