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Articles of 2002

Q: IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE? A: YES, BUT NOT THE RIGHT KIND

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The 6th Round

A couple of months ago I got this letter from a Dr. Michael Schwartz, who represents something called the “American Association of Professional Ringside Physicians”. The good doctor, who apparently was miffed that we had not devoted a chapter, or two, or three, in our “Operation Cleanup” series to him and his organization, expressed himself thusly:

“Dear Mr. Jay:

I have enjoyed your series on “Operation Cleanup”. Especially the last chapter entitled, “Boxing Bill”. However, don't you feel you're being hypocritical criticizing Mr. Ken Nahigian for not responding to your requests? We, too, have sent YOU many e-mails and press releases concerning the wonderful work done by the American Association of Professional Ringside Physicians(AAPRP), however, you have never even had the courtesy of responding to us. We invited you to attend our Annual Medical Seminar in Baltimore next week, yet you didn't even have the courtesy to even respond with a “no thank you”. You have never printed or commented on our certification program to
insure that no “Kentucky” disasters occur again with unqualified ringside physicians working at boxing matches. In addition, you haven't even discussed our many educational programs intended to improve the quality of the ringside physician. Finally, not once have you discussed the excellent work done by the many ringside physicians across the country; those who work for little pay (sometimes less than the ring girls),the fact that they have an enormous liability potential and don't have additional malpractice insurance for these events and normally gets criticized for stopping a fight or letting one go on too long!

Next week, I will address over 75 ringside physicians in Baltimore. What would you like me to tell them when I state that reporters like yourself claim to care for the sport but rarely report on the good things these individuals are doing to save lives. I would appreciate a response at least in this instance; even if you disagree with my comments.

I actually see some good coming out of your columns. Now try to actually work with an organization of over 250 doctors that work to save these athletes and promote respectability and credibility in the sport.”

Eagerly Awaiting Your Reply,

Sincerely,
Dr. Michael Schwartz
Chairman – AAPRP

I promptly returned his correspondence, indicating that I would be happy to respond to any of his concerns. I even tried to make it to his seminar, or at least to the pre-seminar party, which was held at a Ballroom Boxing event outside Baltimore, but I was too ill to travel.

I was supposed to be contacted by him after the convention was over.

Glad I didn't hold my breath.

He had apparently schmoozed Ken Nahigian (John McCain's errand boy) well enough at his get-together – and so your humble reporter quickly became irrelevant.

Well, if he had ever bothered to contact me again, this, in substance, is what I would have told him:

The reason I never bothered to respond to any of your PRESS RELEASES, Dr. Schwartz, is based, in part, on the nature of your first correspondence to me. It begins,

AAPRP ANNOUNCES 2002 AWARDS

Darien, Connecticut – July 11, 2002 – The American Association of Professional Ringside Physicians (AAPRP) announced today the 2002 AAPRP Award Recipients. They are as follows:

Ringside Physician of the Year – Dr. Barry Jordan

Administrator of the Year – Mr. Tim Luekenhoff (sic)

Outstanding Contribution to Boxing – Senator John McCain

I won't even go any further with the rest of the nonsense contained in this announcement.

I wonder – has it ever occurred to you, Dr. Schwartz, that if the likes of Tim Lueckenhoff and John McCain were doing not only what they SHOULD be doing, but what was WITHIN THEIR POWER to do, there might never have been the necessity for a series like “Operation Cleanup” in the first place? Can you possibly understand the logic behind that notion?

Can you understand that after six years of laws in effect to “reform boxing”, what we have is a situation that is essentially no more orderly than it was before, because no one has ever taken enough care that even the more useful components of these laws might actually have to be ENFORCED? Does this constitute an “outstanding contribution to boxing”, but rather, an INCOMPLETE and SLOVENLY contribution to boxing, almost as bad as if there were none at all?

Can you understand that because of the ineptitude of the “effort” to enforce the Ali Act and the Professional Boxer Safety Act, that some of the blame must fall at the feet of the organization Mr. Lueckenhoff presides over – the Association of Boxing Commissions – for not considering it important enough to educate attorneys general across the country as to what these laws are, and what they mean, especially as it concerns the area of fighter safety?

And do you know how many fighters who have suffered wrongs have turned to the ABC, since there was nowhere else to go, and because a provision of the federal law may have been violated, and have been met with either a refusal to take action, an inadequate action, or simply no response whatsoever?

No, Dr. Schwartz, I haven't commented on your certification program “to insure that no 'Kentucky' disasters occur again with unqualified ringside physicians working at boxing matches” because you have NEVER sent a stern letter to the Kentucky Athletic Commission protesting such disregard for ring safety and inquiring as to WHY IN THE WORLD they would ever certify a physician to work a fight who was not licensed in that state to practice medicine. I have no evidence before me that you have EVER made an inquiry with either the Ohio or Kentucky medical boards about this physician (Dr. Manuel Mediodia), or registered a complaint with them, on behalf of your “organization”, in which it is duly noted that he cannot and SHOULD NOT be permitted to represent the sport of boxing in any way, shape, or form, and in fact should be drummed out of the practice. I have NEVER seen anything in the way of complaint or protest to the American Medical Association regarding Dr. Mediodia either.

Can you show me documentation of such?

When I see you awarding Tim Lueckenhoff with “Administrator of the Year”, I consider that a tacit approval of his “stewardship” of the ABC, and of the actions he has performed while at the helm. These actions included his apparent support of
the retention of Kentucky commission chairman Jack Kerns as a First Vice-President and member of the ABC's Executive Board, working right alongside him, despite the fact that Kerns is largely responsible for, as you put it, the “Kentucky disaster”.

If this helps one's qualifications as “Administrator of the Year”, couldn't we have put Kerns' name on that list of nominees as well?

Kerns has put fighters in imminent danger time and again. Have you EVER raised a voice of protest to your “Administrator of the Year” or demanded to know why is allowed to continue in his position with the ABC?

Is there a reason on earth why anyone who is sincerely concerned with the issue of true boxing reform shouldn't be insulted and outraged at your pitiful choice of honorees?

And am I not fully entitled to an explanation of these choices before attributing one iota of credibility to your “organization”?

You bet your ass I am.

As far as I'm concerned, I'd like that explanation – in writing – for your “2002 AAPRP Awards” before I will give you or your club any consideration whatsoever.

But then again, you and I both know the rationale behind your choices, don't we? You want control of the nationwide medical databank that would be established if the United States Boxing Administration were to come into existence. You want to be empowered with controlling the process by which ringside physicians are certified and trained. You have heretofore been unsuccessful in those pursuits, and apparently you feel you can't get there without the approval of McCain's office and at least some cooperation with Lueckenhoff, Kerns and the ABC.

So let's be perfectly honest, shall we? The “awards” you give out are, in essence, for the sake of political expediency, are they not? When it comes right down to it, yours is just one more organization that is engaged in the practice of selling
yourselves out for the sake of politics.

And you're wondering why you've never gotten the time of day from ME? Are you kidding?

Hey – while we're at it, let me ask you a couple more questions —

Aren't you the fellow who recommends that chiropractors, dermatologists, dentists, psychiatrists, and other practitioners of unrelated disciplines be allowed to work at ringside for professional boxing shows?

Is it not a fact that your “Vice-President/Assistant Secretary”, Dr. Paul Wallace, is currently the subject of an inquiry in the state of California for insurance irregularities (egregious over-billing) as it relates directly to the treatment of fighters? And didn't you bestow your 2001 “Ringside Physician of the Year” award on him, during the very time he was engaging in the activities that have prompted this inquiry?

Your only saving grace is that you have a nice guy like Dr. Alan Fields on your board. But that's not enough to make up for everything else.

I'm not interested in phonies, fakers, or sellouts, Dr. Schwartz. I've invested too much in this. If your chief concern does not involve making a sincere statement about the betterment of boxing, but in becoming a stooge of the political system, simply take a number and wait by the door.

My office is crowded – I'll get around to you sooner or later. Or maybe not.

Anyway, Dr. Schwartz, thank you for “actually seeing some good” coming out of my columns.

I'm confident some good will come out of this one too.

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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