No offense to Buffalo’s Greg Brady, but the biggest story of last Thursday’s Niagara Falls fight card that featured his coming-out party as a cruiserweight prospect may have taken place outside of the ring.
Brady, who survived a second round knockdown to score his fifth consecutive kayo victory, was thrust into the main event only after the real main event fell apart when both Nick Casal’s partner, Shakha Moore, and Vincent Arroyo’s opponent, Marlon Lewis, failed their prefight physicals.
With Lewis there was last minute concern over a recent MRI. He suffered a one-round knockout his last time out in November. It’s on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jSJILPnw_Q). Lewis takes maybe fifteen punches to the head in the fight and goes down three times. The referee doesn't even give him a chance to recover the third time and stops it. Lewis never comes close to losing consciousness or shows signs of any lingering impairment, but who really knows. The Commission deserves the benefit of the doubt over legitimate concerns over a fighter's brain scan.
Shakha Moore was a different story. Moore was excluded for having undergone LASIK vision correction surgery. LASIK leaves a corneal flap that carries the remote possibility of becoming disturbed from something like a punch in the face. Certainly it wouldn’t be sporting for the man to hurt his eyes, but it doesn’t seem like a life-threatening issue, and – insurance wonks and attorneys aside – that should be the measuring stick for blocking a boxer’s chance to compete two days before a bout with 3,000 tickets sold. I know the Casal camp along with most boxing people in the Buffalo area were incredulous that such a thing could happen.
A Boxing Commission official I spoke to ringside at the Niagara Falls Convention and Event Center couldn’t help but recognize what everyone involved with the card recognized, that things might be getting a little weird for boxing in New York State in the wake of Magomed Abdusalamov’s life-threatening injury sustained in the ring last November in Madison Square Garden.
The Dagestani heavyweight Abdusalamov was never knocked down but took a beating in a ten-round decision loss, suffering injuries from which he will most likely never recover. Last month, his wife served notice that she'd be moving forward with a $100 million lawsuit against the New York State Athletic Commissions, stating he suffered “significant and permanent brain damage” due to “improper, untimely and inadequate medical care and treatment” by New York State.
The official expressed that no new regulations or requirements are on the books for prospective pugilists, but agreed that the interpretation of those books may be changing as the state is obviously being more careful. On fight night, promoter Mercedes Vazquez-Simmons stated that this may give the fight world pause in putting on cards in New York.
How this might effect boxing in the home state of Carmen Basilio, Gene Tunney and Mike Tyson to name just a few, remains to be seen. Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s camp has not committed to Las Vegas for his May fight against Marcos Maidana, saying they wanted to kick the tires on the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn.
Or will this only affect smaller cards that don't have the major financial backing of network TV? The Showtime/Mayweather Promotions card at Turning Stone Casino on Friday night went off without a hitch.
Talking with Nick Casal's father and manager Ray Casal the day after the fight, Ray said they were looking to set up a fight out-of-state as soon as possible. The Casal camp wants to fight in places like Buffalo, Niagara Falls, or Verona (Turning Stone Casino), but going into his 30th month of an expected stall during what should be his prime of athletic life, Casal needs to fight now to get back to to where he wants to be, and his camp is rightfully anxious to get back in the ring.
We will continue to monitor the standards and practices of the Commission, and the Abdusalamov lawsuit.