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Articles of 2002

GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT

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When I tell you – time and time again – that it's not so much a matter of the LAW you put in place as it is the PEOPLE who are going to be charged with upholding that law, I'm not just blowing smoke. The examples set in Kentucky can illustrate this perfectly:

You know, the revised Professional Boxing Safety Act has been in effect since October 9, 1996 (there's a 1995 version as well). This is a federal law, passed through the House and Senate, signed by the President, preceded by a lot of hearings and pre-interviews, glad-handing and press releases from various politicians, including John McCain, Mike Oxley, and others that no doubt insisted, “This is a positive step forward for boxing reform”.

Sounds just like what we're seeing and hearing now, doesn't it?

Section 5 of the Act, titled “SAFETY STANDARDS”, reads like this:

“No person may arrange, promote, organize, produce, or fight in a professional boxing match without meeting each of the following requirements or an alternative requirement in effect under regulations of a boxing commission that provides equivalent protection of the health and safety of boxers:

(1) A physical examination of each boxer by a physician certifying whether or not the boxer is physically fit to safely compete, copies of which must be provided to the boxing commission.

(2) Except as otherwise expressly provided under regulation of a boxing commission promulgated subsequent to the enactment of this Act [enacted Oct. 9, 1996], an ambulance or medical personnel with appropriate resuscitation equipment continuously present on site.

(3) A physician continuously present at ringside.

(4) Health insurance for each boxer to provide medical coverage for any injuries sustained in the match.”

Terrific.

Unfortunately, there's nothing in that law prohibiting imbeciles from operating boxing commissions. I checked.

I ask you – did that law prevent Jack Kerns, the FIRST VICE-PRESIDENT of the Association of Boxing Commissions, in his capacity as chairman of the Kentucky Athletic Commission, from ensuring that three of the four aforementioned provisions would NOT be in effect on the night Greg Page met with his unfortunate ring injury in Erlanger, Ky.?

Quite obviously not. And to add to the insult, there hasn't even been a lesson learned from it. From glancing over the interrogatories associated with Page's lawsuit against the commission, Kerns, and others, is the official position of Kerns that since there was no provision in the Kentucky law to have oxygen, EMT's, an ambulance, or in fact anything beyond a stretcher (which incidentally was not available either) at ringside, that HE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE.

It is his official position that since it is the “promoter's responsibility” to have the oxygen, the ambulance, the stretcher, the insurance, that the fault should be placed squarely on the shoulders of the PROMOTER, and the commission should be free of any liability.

It is his official position that if the fighters do not register a protest and demand that a fight be canceled, that it is perfectly within his rights, and the commission's rights, to allow that fights go forward, even after the discovery that the safety provisions required by law are not present.

It appears to be his official position that a ringside physician, appointed by the commission, does not have to be licensed in his state to practice medicine.

It is not known whether Kerns or his lawyers consulted with his colleagues on the Board of Directors of the Association of Boxing Commissions before formulating this “strategy”. But it should be noted that JACK KERNS IS PART OF LEADERSHIP THAT IS BRINGING YOU THE PROFESSIONAL BOXING AMENDMENTS ACT OF 2002.

Apparently, to this day, there is no acknowledgement on the part of Kerns, or fellow imbecile Nancy Black, the commission's executive director (who had never been to a fight before), that the federal law – the Professional Boxer Safety Act, and specifically Section 5 – completely overrides his own state law, unless that state law provides for “MORE STRINGENT” safety standards.

Black herself admitted to me that she didn't know what was in the federal law; as for Kerns, he hasn't spoken in public about it but one must assume he is claiming ignorance about it as well.

For Kerns, claiming ignorance as easy, though I doubt that's not going to provide any legal relief for him.

Even allowing for the possibility that Kerns can't read (I leave ALL possibilities open when it comes to boxing commissioners), there is a lawyer specifically assigned to the Kentucky Athletic Commission by the state attorney general's office. His name is Rob Jones. Evidently, Jones never schooled Kerns on this law, quite possibly because he doesn't even know it himself. That's HIS fault. We've established that Black, who is also an attorney by trade, didn't know it. That's HER fault. None of Kerns' fellow commissioners know the law, or bothered to learn it. That's THEIR fault.

I can break out transcripts from meetings held at ABC conventions in which the federal law was specifically discussed. Kerns, who loves to take trips like this, was at these meetings, and Black is known to have been present at some of them as well.

So excuse me if I don't want to hear any bullshit from them.

The point is this – you could pass TEN THOUSAND LAWS and if regulators like Jack Kerns and Nancy Black don't feel like enforcing it, what's the use? So where's the problem – the LAW or the PEOPLE implementing it?

I mean, here you have a conspiracy of idiocy between Kerns, Black, Jones, and the rest of the Kentucky commission structure. Stupidity is a powerful thing. Consequently, it's pretty hard to overcome that kind of conspiracy.

Sure enough, they'll learn in the end – because their wallets will tell them so – that it was NOT Greg Page's responsibility to educate them on federal law – it is THEIR responsibility to know it.

But that realization will not come as a result of any mechanism that is provided for by “reform legislation”; it will come through a civil proceeding.

And by the way – as you can probably guess, Kerns is hardly the only commissioner in the United States who has ignored federal law.

The real absurdity is that, even though the law exists on the books – and it is actually not a bad part of the law (although it doesn't go far enough) – I'm not sure there is any provision included in it to guarantee its enforcement, i.e., there is no prescribed punishment for an individual or entity who violates the law.

I wonder – where were the Greg Sirbs of the world when the “do-gooder” politicians were soliciting input for this bill back in 1996? Nowhere to be found, I'm willing to bet.

Couldn't someone – ANYONE – have mentioned that an ambulance should not be an option, but a NECESSITY at a fight? Couldn't anyone have devised a way to punish a commissioner who openly flouted the law? Couldn't someone have explained to them that fighters' lives could be at stake?

No – my guess is that these guys were too busy kissing some politicians's ass to notice.

Yet, Ken Nahigian, on behalf of McCain, is ready to hand the keys to the kingdom to people like Sirb, Kerns, and the rest of the ABC's brainless-trust when it comes to establishing standards for safety, the ranking of fighters, the selection and appointment of officials, and a whole lot more.

That's a tragedy.

fightpage@totalaction.com

Copyright 2002 Total Action Inc.

Articles of 2002

New Year's Resolutions

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A new year is upon us, which means it's time for new years resolutions. Yeah, never mind that most resolutions are broken, oh, around the third week of January; everybody still makes them.

Here are my resolutions that I'd make for some of the luminaries in the sport of boxing.

* Floyd Mayweather: No more excuses. Anyone else sick of listening to 'the Pretty Boy' whine about what ailments he came into the fight with? Whether it's his fragile hands, a bum shoulder or his squabbles with his promoter Bob Arum, he always has an alibi. Hey Floyd, nobody cares, you get paid plenty to perform and those that buy tickets don't care that you might have a hangnail; they want nothing but the best effort out of you.

Mayweather reminds me of former Los Angeles Dodger slugger Mike Marshall, who's second home seemed to be the disabled list. The bottom line is this guy is lucky to be a boxer where he only has to perform once every 6 months- he simply couldn't handle the rigors of an NBA, NFL or baseball season. Ask any athlete if they are ever 100-percent healthy after the first day of training camp or spring training and they'll laugh at you.

Injuries and ailments are a part of the job, overcoming them is what makes a true professional. Mayweather still hasn't grasped that concept.

* Jim Gray: Respect. I guess this little weasel is whom Aretha Franklin was talking about in her song. Think about it, have you ever seen a guy be so disrespectful to fighters in post-fight interviews like this guy. Don't even mention HBO's Larry Merchant- he isn't afraid to ask the tough questions like a true journalist and he's consistent. Gray looks at boxing as a secondary gig and looks down on boxers in general.

Don't believe me? Just compare and contrast his softball interviews that he does for NBC and the hatchet jobs he does on Showtime.

* Max Kellerman: No more over-hyping New York boxers. Look, I get along and respect Max, but when you look up the term 'East Coast Bias' in Webster's, his picture may be used as the definition of it. From Zab Judah to James Butler and to Tokumbo Olajide, he'll have you enshrined in Canastota if you come out of the Big Apple.

What's worse are the excuses he'll come up with for his New Yorkers when they fall on their faces. Max is great for boxing but he's gotta realize New York hasn't been a player on the boxing scene for at least 20 years.

* Crocodile: A new catchphrase. You know Crocodile, right? He was Mike Tyson's hype-man for all these years…the guy with the menacing shades and the army fatigues who used to scream, “GUERILLA WARFARE” at the top of his lungs over and over again.

I've heard that enough and it's about as played out as 'Whoop, there it is' and it's time he came up with a new one. All the great ones can add to their repertoire.

* HBO: Admit they acknowledge the titles. Stop being the Hypocritical Boxing Organization and just stop saying that you don't recognize these organizations. The latest example of their double-talk? Well, for years they dogged John Ruiz and his WBA title, suddenly Roy Jones challenges Ruiz and HBO is hyping this up as some sort of historic challenge of a light heavyweight trying to capture a heavyweight title.
Yeah, the same title they had basically trashed for years.

* Joe Cortez: No more over-officiating. His line is that,' He's firm but he's fair'. I'd argue about that the last couple of years but my biggest gripe with him is that he seems to make himself waaaaay too visible during fights and gets too involved. Nobody is there to watch him and he should just let the fighters fight.
Too often I see these fights with Cortez lose their flow as Cortez continually interrupts the action with his admonishments and warnings. Joe, take a step back and let us watch what we came to see.

* Don Turner: Stop living off of Holyfield-Tyson I- If you ever talk to this guy, he'll talk as though he invented boxing. And his big coup was co-training Evander Holyfield against Mike Tyson. 'The Real Deal' upset Tyson and suddenly Turner was being hailed as the new Chappie Blackburn and he became a media darling.

My question is this, did he suddenly teach Holyfield how to fight 35 fights into his career? Also, I contend that my mother and I could work Holyfield's corner and he would whip Tyson everyday of the week and twice on Sunday. And ask yourself this, when was the last time he was in the winning corner for a big fight?

* Newspaper writers: Start crediting the Internet. Ok, this is a sore subject with me, but too many times I've seen stories from the major newspaper scribes who amazingly have stories that are eerily similar to stories that I've read on the internet (or that I've written myself) and use quotes that I got in one-on-one interviews and they don't attribute their sources- the internet.

When I take quotes or info from a story I make a point to give credit where it's due. Now, I just wish these guys would do the same.

* Roy Jones: no more hip-hop entrances. Roy, you're a magnificently gifted prizefighter, you can also play just a bit of hoops, but your rhyming skills are that of Shaquille O'Neal. In other words, you're doing street nursery rhymes not Nas.

Please, oh please, stop embarrassing yourself and the sport with your cheesy as nacho's attempt to become a hip-hop performer. His last entrance/performance reminded me of one of those really bad Sir-Mix-Alot videos of the early 90's.

* Panama Lewis: an exit out of the game. You remember Lewis right, the guy who gave Aaron Pryor the mysterious white bottle before the 14th round of his bout against Alexis Arguello, which seemed to give 'the Hawk' a sudden burst of energy that enabled Pryor to brutally KO Arguello. Afterwards, Pryor would skip out on his post-fight drug test.

Then there was the fight with Luis Resto, where he would tamper with his gloves between rounds, and bearing the brunt of this tomfoolery was Billy Collins who's faced was turned into a bloody mess. Collins, in the aftermath of this brutality committed suicide. For this, Lewis was banned permanently from working a corner. But that doesn't mean that he can't go into the gym and train fighters and even attend fights.

The bottom line is simple, this man has no place in the game of boxing and boxing shouldn't tolerate him in any way.

* Cedric Kushner: no more gimmicks. This guy has tried everything from the disastrous 'ThunderBox' to one-day $100,000 heavyweight tournaments- and all have failed miserably.

He can put on a boxing version of 'Survivor' or 'Real World' if he wants but the reality is, boxing fans want good fights and interesting fighters, nothing more, nothing less.

Stop with the shenanigans and stop with the junk.

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Articles of 2002

$*%@#!

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Walk the dog, stroll through the park, have a picnic at the lake.
There are safer things for IBF cruiserweight champ Vassily Jirov to do this month than defend his title against James “Lights Out” Toney.
Barbecue, play softball, fish, visit the zoo. Thank his lucky stars.
Jirov, who lives in California, won’t be fighting Toney on HBO on Jan. 25.
Something to do with his insides.
Ask Toney why Jirov pulled out of their fight and he’ll tell you it was Jirov’s heart that let him down, his backbone that went soft, not his banged-up ribs. Ask Toney and he’ll tell you about heartbreak and lies and revenge and fighting anybody in the universe if it means another title. Jirov claims he suffered the damage while sparring. Maybe. But it’s the fourth time Jirov has found a reason not to fight Toney. How many times you got to be told to go home before you realize the guy doesn’t want to come outside and play? How many times you got to be bit by the same dog before you realize it wants to be left alone? Jirov has more excuses than a politician caught with a hooker on his lap.
In his own eloquent way, Toney recently described how disappointed he was in the cancellation of their title fight on the undercard of the Vernon Forrest – Ricardo Mayorga welterweight title fight.
“The @#%$%*&#@,’’ Toney said after learning of the postponement on Christmas Eve. “Jirov can @&%$#% and then he can @%$#@#$. He’s nothing but a #$%#@#.’’ That said, it doesn’t brighten up the New Year in the Toney household.
“I’m done with it,’’ said Toney, sounding like a guy who finally gets tried of being stood up by the same girl.
As of Dec. 30, there was still no word of an opponent for Toney, though he’s still making regular trips to the gym.
Merry Christmas, James. Have a Happy New Year.
“Bah, humbug,’’ said Toney’s promoter Dan Goossen. “We didn’t have much of a Christmas. I got the news on Christmas Eve. But you just have to bounce back.’’ Funny thing about fighters. Some make excuses, some fight through them. You get the feeling Toney could have cracked five ribs and his right tibia and still climbed into the ring against Jirov.
It raises a lot of questions. What’s Jirov got against fighting? After a busy 2001, he hasn’t fought since last February. How do you hold a title after you’ve gone into retirement? Just who is this guy and why does he like to hide? Is there really a Vassily Jirov out there, or is he a creation of the IBF, a shadowy figure who won the title and decided it was too big a risk to keep defending it? The bottom line is, Toney may be left with a lot of unexpected free time on his hands if they don’t find him another fight, though he knew better than to mark the date on his calendar in ink. There are no promises in boxing. When dealing with a guy like Jirov, all bets are off. But Toney can still hope. The name O’Neil Bell – the WBC’s No. 1 challenger – has been knocked around, and Toney said he doesn’t care what contender or champion he knocks out on Jan. 25. “#@#$%$#,’’ Toney said.
You can say that again.

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Articles of 2002

Dream Fights of 2003

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Hey, we can all dream, right? Isn't it our God-given right as boxing fans to think about fights that should happen – but often times don't?

And not just fights that have the highest profile or the biggest names – because sometimes those fights, like Lewis vs. Tyson – are nothing more than high-profile mismatches. I'm talking about fights that are evenly matched between the game's best and are the most intriguing inside the ring.

Here are some fights I'd pay to see in the upcoming year; full well knowing that most of these fights are pipe dreams as the business end of the sport would bog these fights down quickly. But hey, we can dream right?

* Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Erik Morales or Marco Antonio Barrera: Name me another fighter that has never won a world title belt that is better than Marquez? You can't and this guys been ducked and dodged long enough. On February 1st he takes on Manuel Medina for the vacant IBF featherweight title and it says here that he should face one of the game's best known 126-pounders, either Morales or Barrera. Marquez is a master boxer with great counter-punching skills and his hand-speed would give either one of his Mexican compatriots fits. There are some in the industry who have been saying for a while that Marquez is already the game's premiere featherweight; I'm not inclined to disagree that strongly.

CHANCES OF HAPPENING?: With Barrera, not good, as Ricardo Maldonado sees no real upside in this match-up and would most likely take an easier fight on HBO for about the same amount of money he could make facing Marquez.

With Morales, the logistics are much less complicated. Both of them are promoted by Bob Arum and there is some talk that they could face each other in May if a Morales-Barrera III isn't made.

* Bernard Hopkins vs. Roy Jones: Not only because it's a match-up of two of the very premiere fighters in the world, but Hopkins needs to resume his career with some meaningful fights and Jones should be fighting guys like 'the Executioner' instead of participating in novelty acts like his proposed bout with John Ruiz.

And don't think for one minute that this would be a blowout. Jones couldn't blowout a green Hopkins in 1993 and won't be able to do it now. Hopkins, unlike most of Jones' opponents, isn't in total awe of Pensacola's finest.

CHANCES OF HAPPENING?: Not good, Sharon and Arafat will find a common ground regarding the Middle East before these two proud and stubborn men find one in contract negotiations.

* Oscar De La Hoya vs. Vernon Forrest: For fans of pure boxing and strategy this is a fight that can't be missed. Both men have strong jabs and match-up well physically. 'The Golden Boy' has the better left hook and 'The Viper' has a more effective right hand. Between these two well-schooled boxers you can expect a tense and tight boxing match with subtle momentum swings round by round.

CHANCES OF HAPPENING?: For 2003, not very good because it looks like Oscar will be fighting once in the upcoming year – a September rematch against Shane Mosley – and Bob Arum has stated that Forrest simply brings nothing to the table promotionally. This can be interpreted as another way of saying that he's not Latin, too dangerous or just another black fighter who can't sell a ticket. The bottom line seems to be that unless Forrest raises his profile in the upcoming years, De La Hoya will be facing guys that make economic sense.

* Floyd Mayweather vs. Kostya Tszyu: This would be a face off of the sport's premier lightweight against the game's best jr. welterweight. 'The Pretty Boy' would bring speed, quickness and boxing ability to the dance. While Tszyu would bring a decided edge in strength, size and punching power. They say styles make fights and you have two contrasting ones here.

CHANCES OF HAPPENING?: Not likely. This is for a couple of reasons. First, Vlad Wharton who promotes Tszyu, is seemingly deathly afraid to take any risks with Tszyu, who's basically his cash cow. Secondly, Mayweather got a reality check from his two bouts with Jose Luis Castillo, who at 135 pounds was able to muscle him throughout their 24 rounds they fought in 2002. And Tszyu is faster, sharper and just as strong as Castillo. I'm not sure Mayweather is in any rush to make the move up to 140-pounds.

* Lennox Lewis vs. Wladimir Klitschko: The industry is always better off when there is action in the heavyweight division. So why even mess around by having Lewis take on 'the other' Klitschko or knock out Tyson again; getting right in there with the man most pundits are claiming is the heir to his throne in Wlad Klitschko?

The time is now, Lewis is getting up there in age and really doesn't have that much left in his gas tank anyway and it would be prudent for him to face Klitschko now before he gets any better. Remember, that's the tact they took in facing Michael Grant when they did – but it has to be noted that Klitschko is much better than Grant.

Lewis would have the advantages in experience and savvy, but for one of the few times in his career he would be facing a disadvantage in size and perhaps power. The two best big men on the planet squaring off, what else could you ask for?

CHANCES OF HAPPENING: Actually pretty good, since Lewis himself has stated his plans to take on both Klitschkos in between his rematch with Tyson. But with Don King now making a full court press to garner the services of Lewis, who knows what direction he goes to now.

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