THE HAUSER REPORT: Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission executive director Greg Sirb is on the short list of administrators who have a full understanding of how to regulate boxing. Sirb is passionate about the sweet science and recently directed his passion toward the State of Montana.
Section 6303(a) of the federal Professional Boxing Safety Act provides that no person may promote or participate in a professional boxing match held in a state that does not have a boxing commission unless the match is supervised by a boxing commission from another state and subjected to the regulatory guidelines published by the Association of Boxing Commissions as well as any other professional boxing regulations and requirements promulgated by the supervising state.
“Montana started putting a commission together about a year ago,” Sirb says. “But it’s not up and running yet. Montana does not have a working commission in any sense that I’m aware of.”
Under federal law, the Association of Boxing Commissions is supposed to notify the state attorney general in any state where an illegal fight card takes place. Sirb has written to Attorney General Tim Fox at the Montana Department of Justice on numerous occasions to voice his concern.
Most recently, on March 8, 2017, Sirb wrote, “I am inquiring about the professional boxing matches that have occurred in Montana over the past sixteen months. Since Montana does not have a working Athletic Commission to regulate these events, the Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996 takes effect. This law specifically states that, if the state where the boxing is to be held does not have a commission, the event must be supervised by another state commission. This is federal law. Your state has had at least five pro boxing events where there was no Commission to supervise – a direct violation of federal law. It is only a matter of time before some boxer gets hurt.”
Sirb’s March 8 letter to Fox specifically referenced a fight card that was scheduled to take place at the Shrine Auditorium in Billings, Montana, on Saturday, March 25.
Seven fights were contested on the March 25 card in Billings. The main event saw local favorite Duran Caferro (15-1), who has fought one fighter with a winning record in his entire career, take on Cheyenne Zeigler (3-12), who’d lost his seven most recent fights by knockout. Caferro knocked Zeigler out in the third round.
In the featured undercard bout, Eric Hempstead (5-0, 5 KOs) fought for what was described as the “vacant Montana State Heavyweight Title.” Hempstead’s previous five opponents have a career total of one win among them. His adversary on March 25, Warren Brocky, fit that profile. Brocky entered the bout with an 0-2 record, both of his losses coming by knockout. Hempstead knocked Brocky out in the first round.
The fights in Billings were promoted by Silver Wolf Fight Promotions, which is run by 39-year-old Jon Jay Mount. Adding to the questionable nature of the proceedings, Mount fought on the card and knocked out 0-and-4 Andrew Howk in the third stanza.
“It’s an outrage,” Sirb says. “Montana has had a least five illegal cards that I know of. Who referees? Who judges? Who’s performing medicals on the fighters? It’s just a matter of time before someone gets badly hurt.”
Eric Sell is communications director for the Montana Department of Justice. On March 23, Sell told this writer, “There is a boxing commission as defined by federal law under the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, but I don’t know what they’re doing.”
Sell referred further questions to Derek Sherlock (a supervisor for the Licensing Bureau in the Business Standards Division of the Montana Department of Labor and Industry). Sherlock did not return telephone calls regarding the matter.
Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that the Montana Annotated code provides that the Montana Department of Labor “may appoint a representative to act specifically on behalf of the department” at boxing events.
Montana law further states that “the representative may be a volunteer” and that “the department may accept private donations for the costs of administering the boxing program.”
Finally, a doctor need not be present at ringside for fights in Montana. A “licensed physician assistant” or “licensed advanced practice registered nurse” will suffice.
And it’s not just Montana.
Michigan has a proud boxing tradition. Joe Louis lived in Detroit. Thomas Hearns came out of the famed Kronk Gym in Detroit and fought 34 times in Michigan.
“Michigan now sends one inspector to each show,”Sirb states. “One inspector. That’s their entire staff on site. There’s no way you can properly regulate a fight card with one inspector. And in Michigan, the promoter now assigns the referees, judges, and doctors. The only limitation is that the referees, judges, and doctors have to be licensed by the Michigan commission.”
“That satisfies the Ali Act because technically there’s still a state commission in Michigan,” Sirb notes. “But it’s a disgrace. It’s ripe for abuse when a promoter chooses the referee and judges for a fight. And it adds to the dangers facing a fighter when the promoter is choosing the doctors.”
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The pendulum is swinging the other way with regard to the proposed boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor. It now seems unlikely that the fight will happen in the near future.
McGregor didn’t have a moment of clarity and realize that he’d be wiped out whenever Mayweather chose to wipe. Nor did the boxing establishment come to its senses. Rather, UFC, which has contractual control over McGregor’s combat sports outings, is said to have concerns about the fight.
UFC would make money from Mayweather-McGregor. But McGregor is UFC’s flagship fighter. It would damage the UFC brand if the company’s poster boy were publicly humiliated. Moreover, McGregor has spoken openly of his desire to make his fortune and get out of combat sports while he’s young. With the money that Conor made from fighting Mayweather, there would be no need for him to enter the Octagon again. Which means that UFC would lose its star attraction.
UFC – not Floyd Mayweather or Conor McGregor – is the 800-pound gorilla in this narrative. By safeguarding its own economic interests, UFC may well save boxing from itself.
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When John Duddy retired from boxing in 2011, the popular Irish middleweight decided to try his hand at acting.
“I always liked story-telling,” Duddy explains. “When I was growing up, we had a family movie night at home once a week when we watched a movie on the VCR. The first movie I saw in a theater was The Empire Strikes Back. My mother took me, and I loved it. It was like seeing my dreams on the screen or my playing with my toys come to life on the screen. Movies are incredible. Wherever you are in your life, they can take you away to another world.”
Since leaving the sweet science, Duddy has had roles in a half-dozen films and several plays. He also helped Robert DeNiro prepare for the fight scenes in Grudge Match, which led to John landing a bit part as Ken Buchanan in Hands of Stone. But Duddy’s most significant film role to date is in Emerald City, which had its American premiere in New York on March 26.
Emerald City is a simply-made, moving film about a crew of Irish construction workers in New York. To say that it was made on a small budget would be overstating the case.
“Not many people believed we could make the movie,” Duddy says. “But Colin Broderick [who wrote, directed, co-produced, and stars in it] made it happen. Each character has his own story. None of them is as happy as you’d want them to be. For most of them, their lives are work, drink, bed. But they get on with their lives.”
“Working on the movie was an incredible experience,” Duddy continues. “Watching people put it all together on a shoestring budget. Working with young producers, a young director, the other actors, the technical people, every one dedicated to their art. The friendships I’ve made working on this movie will last forever.”
John’s wife, Grainne, also has a role in Emerald City, which will be showing at film festivals in Belfast, Derry, Boston, Cleveland, and New York in the weeks ahead.
As for the future; Duddy says, “No one knows where any of us who worked on Emerald City will go in our lives. I’m still with The Padded Wagon [a moving company in New York]. They’re great about my work schedule being flexible. Whenever there’s an audition, a rehearsal, a performance, they let me off.”
“If Grainne and I can live our lives as actors, that would be great. Right now, just like I did with boxing, we’re starting at the bottom and trying to work our way to the top. To make it in acting, you have to have talent. You have to be dedicated. You have to be dependable. And you need the breaks. But one way or another, I’ll always do this. Acting is amazing to me. You read something. You think you have it in your mind. Then you work on it with other people, you learn from each other, and it grows into something else. I love it.”
Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.
Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at email@example.com. His most recent book – A Hard World: An Inside Look at Another Year in Boxing – was published recently by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.