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Articles of 2002

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE ABC:

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To Tim Luckenhoff, President, Association of Boxing Commissions

: According to Section 11, Paragraph “c” of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act – “NOTIFICATION OF CHANGE IN RATING”,

“A sanctioning organization shall not be entitled to receive any compensation, directly or indirectly, in connection with a boxing match, until, with respect to a change in the rating of a boxer previously rated by such organization in the top 10 boxers, the organization –

(1) posts a copy, WITHIN 7 DAYS OF SUCH CHANGE, on its Internet website or home page, if any, including an explanation of such change, for a period of not less than 30 days.”

On June 9, 2002, Golden Johnson had been officially stripped of his welterweight championship by the North American Boxing Federation.

As of June 19, 2002, a fight for the vacant NABF welterweight championship had already been arranged, sanctioned and announced – a bout between Teddy Reid of Washington, DC and Germaine Sanders of Illinois.

As of June 30, 2002, the NABF website, located at

http://www.nabfnews.com

, had ratings changes listed only through “April-May 2002”, and which still do not offer an explanation as to why Johnson was stripped of his title, nor why Teddy Reid could be moved into the #5 spot at 147 pounds without beating anyone since an unsuccessful NABF title fight at 140 pounds, ahead of other fighters who were already in the welterweight ratings.

In the “newsletter” section of the NABF site, there was still a notation that Johnson was scheduled to fight against Germaine Sanders, despite the fact that Johnson had long since been taken out of that fight in favor of Reid, a fighter signed to a promotional contract with Arthur Pelullo's Banner Promotions. There is no mention of Teddy Reid in connection with that fight, which had already taken place last Friday.

I took the liberty of making a hard copy of all this, time-stamped from June 29, which I would be happy to forward on to any interested party, including yourself.

So what we're talking about here is a period of ten days and counting since the announcement of an NABF title fight with new contestants; 21 days, and counting, having passed since the organization's action against Johnson, and 37 days and counting since May 23, when Johnson was notified of the organization's intentions.

And as of July 1, when this story is being completed as part of the “Operation Cleanup” series on TotalAction.com, there has still been no explanation posted on the website, as prescribed by Federal law. In fact, the NABF is still trying to explain how it dropped both Jose Luis Rivera and Danny Perez from the ratings two months ago, and it is removing fighters due to “inactivity”, while at the same time apparently preparing to insert Reid near the top of one division despite an 0-0 record in that weight class, five months of inactivity, and nearly TEN months since his last win.

The NABF is in violation of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act. It is not entitled to collect sanctioning fees for fights.

And I'm expecting the Association of Boxing Commissions to step forward and do something about it, as is its obligation and responsibility.

Let me get even more specific in supporting the case that the NABF is in violation. As I look at the Act as quoted above, the SPIRIT of that particular passage can reasonably be interpreted – that if a boxer is dropped from the top ten in an organization's rankings, it certainly has the potential effect of diminishing that fighter's earning capacity and window of opportunity, since in most instances the fighter needs to be in the top ten to challenge for a champion's title, or to stay in the running for a vacant shot at the championship.

To any reasonable person, it would then logically follow that the same spirit should apply in cases where a champion is “relieved” of his title in a manner in which it is not of his own volition, since quite obviously the drop in potential earning power, in almost all cases, is dramatically greater.

It is inconceivable that the law could be interpreted in any other way. After all, a champion suddenly without a championship wouldn't be entitled to less consideration, or less protection under this law than, say, a boxer who has lost a top ten ranking, would he?

Of course not. And the NABF has simply failed to provide the required information as to WHY it suddenly, surreptitiously denied Johnson an opportunity to defend his title in a fight it had already indicated would have been sanctioned. And it has not explained WHY the welterweight rankings were manipulated for the most recent month to allow Reid to be eligible for a title opportunity.

Given the facts – facts which are rather indisputable, I might add – that were put forward in Chapter 22 of “Operation Cleanup”, can there possibly be any question but that Section 11 of the Ali Act has been violated?

I am not trying to be overly fastidious. Rather, I AM suggesting that there is a certain degree of reticence on the part of the NABF here, and that there is a strong motivation for such reticence; it is obviously to the organization's advantage to go “unchecked”, since that state of affairs allows it the latitude to circumvent its own rules when convenient, in order to render preferential treatment toward one promoter or fighter, to the detriment of another, without fear of repercussion.

I realize what you said before the Senate in May – that you have contacted Attorneys General in three different states for the purposes of reporting violations of the Ali Act, but that you never received a response, in all likelihood because they didn't have any familiarity with the Ali Act or, for that matter, the previous piece of legislation – the Professional Boxer Safety Act of 1996.

We can argue the possible reasons – and justification – for such unfamiliarity at a later time, but right now I am going to suggest a couple of courses of action for you:

The NABF president, Claude Jackson, is located in Texas, and the NABF's mailing address, as distributed to the state boxing commissions, is P.O. Box 3113, Port Arthur, Texas 77643. The boxing commission in Texas falls under the state's Department of Licensing and Regulation. The attorney assigned to that agency is:

Mr. Michael D. Chisum, General Counsel, Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation

P.O. Box 12157, Austin, Texas 78711. The phone number for the Attorney General is 512-463-2100.

Perhaps an inquiry with the state of Nevada would meet with more success. The listed address of the NABF's championship committeee, headed by Sam Macias, is 14340 Sundance Drive, Reno, Nevada 89511, so the activity of Macias and his organziation would arguably fall within the purview of the Nevada Attorney General.

The boxing commission in Nevada is somewhat unique in that it has the power to regulate sanctioning organizations –

“NRS 467.136 Registration of sanctioning organization or television network; fees, costs and deposit; regulations.

1. The commission may require a sanctioning organization or a broadcasting network for television that televises professional contests of unarmed combat in this state to register with the commission before it participates, directly or indirectly, in any professional contest or exhibition of unarmed combat.

2. If such registration is required, the commission shall adopt regulations that prescribe, without limitation, the requirements for registration and any fees for registration.”

The Nevada State Athletic Commission is assigned a counsel by the state Attorney General's office. He is the Chief Deputy Attorney General, Keith Kizer. He is easy enough to reach by way of the Nevada commission office (702-486-2575) or the Attorney General's office (775-684-1100).

Not only is Mr. Kizer completely conversant with the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, he has written extensively – and very eloquently, I might add – about reform-related issues.

And I'll go one further – the United States Attorney might have an interest in this as well, particularly Joe Sierra, who is very familiar with boxing corruption cases from his experience prosecuting the IBF matter a couple of years ago; he's located in Newark, N.J., and can be reached through the general number – 973-645-2700.

Tim, I know you're a good guy with good intentions. But at this point there are no more excuses.

It's time to get to work.

CJ

fightpage@totalaction.com

Copyright 2002 Total Action Inc.

Articles of 2002

$*%@#!

Rick Folstad

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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

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

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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