The CBZ Newswire

Assoc. of Boxing Commissions Call Transcript

by on Jun.22, 2009, under Boxing News, Uncategorized

Committee examines instances of Federal laws violations regarding timely reporting of medical suspensions, conflicts of interest, mismatches and more

May 27, 2009

Members participating    Members absent

Tim Lueckenhoff             Joanna Aguilar
Greg Sirb                            Linda Acampora
Nick Lembo
Dan Fitzgerald
Bruce Spizler

New Business

1.  May a boxing / MMA judge, working on behalf of a state athletic commission, rent equipment (ring / cage; with “combat sport” gloves provided at no cost) to the promoter of an event that he/she will be judging? For events that he/she will not be judging?

In response to these inquiries, the ABC Legal Committee first notes the general principle attendant to most, if not all, “conflict of interest” issues regarding boxing and other combat sports; i.e., one may function either as a person who sanctions, arranges, or promotes such an event or otherwise has a financial interest in an active participant in the combat sport, or one may function as a regulator of boxing or a combat sport – it being an inherent conflict of interest to engage in both activities. While the “Conflict of Interest” provisions of the Federal Law address only boxing [15 USC §6308], general provisions of Ethics Laws attendant to most forms of governmental oversight prescribe the avoidance of even the appearance of a conflict of interest. In effect, one must “pick one side or the other” – proprietary interest or regulator – and may not be on both sides simultaneously.

Regarding the rental of a ring or cage by a boxing / MMA judge to a promoter (whether the boxing / MMA judge is acting as an official during a boxing / MMA event or not), such an “appearance” of a conflict of interest is obvious; as the judge, an official on behalf of the boxing / athletic commission, is receiving compensation from a promoter.  Even a gratuitous bestowing of boxing gloves by a judge to a promoter is improper, as it may: (1) infer a preference for a particular brand of glove by the judge; or (2) be perceived as preferential treatment if such a gratuitous bestowal of gloves is provided to one or some promoters, but not all promoters.

In effect, a “wall” must be set up between those who have a proprietary interest in boxing or other combat sports and those who regulate it.

2.  Procedures for notification to all boxing / athletic commissions of a boxing / athletic commission’s non-approval of a proposed bout (due to finding of “mismatch”).

Recently, in anticipation of a proposed match between Hector Camacho (age, 47; 79-5-3) and Yory Boy Campas (age, 37; 92-14-1) on May 9, 2009 at Taj Mahal in Atlantic City (to “headline” a pay-per-view show), Commissioner Aaron Davis (NJACB) traveled to the boxers’ respective training facilities approximately 10 days prior to the scheduled bout to observe each boxer spar (as had been previously arranged with the promoter). [Campas had lost two fights in a row and four of his last five; while Camacho had fought one time in the past four years.] After being satisfied as to Campas’ sparring, Davis traveled to Camacho’s training facility to observe Camacho spar. During Camacho’s sparring sessions, Davis observed Camacho repeatedly being hit by his sparring partners (who later acknowledged that they went at “half speed” and tried not to make Camacho look bad).  Based upon his observations, Aaron Davis, “with the utmost respect for [Camacho],” declined to approve the bout.

Notwithstanding the actions of the New Jersey Athletic Control Board (NJACB), the promoter simply changed locations and took the Campas – Camacho fight to the State of Florida where, in the absence of contacting Aaron Davis or anyone affiliated with the NJACB, the Florida State Boxing Commission, through its Executive Director, Tom Malloy, approved the Campas – Camacho fight; and the fight took place on the scheduled date of May 9, 2009 at the Double Tree Hotel in Orlando. [The bout (8 rounds) ended in a draw after which Campas, referencing Camacho’s repeated holding, was reported to have declared, “no one has hugged me as much as him (Camacho), not even my wife.”]

Although both Campas and Camacho passed all of the attendant medicals, as noted by a member of the ABC Legal Committee, “the janitor could pass the medicals;” in addition to passing the medicals, a commission must note who a particular boxer will be fighting, and the ability of each of the boxers.

In an effort to prospectively avoid similar circumstances, and to provide boxing / athletic commissions with information regarding the non-approval of a bout by a boxing / athletic commission, the ABC Legal Committee strongly suggests that a boxing / athletic commission promptly send a “red flag” to FightFax regarding the particular match that had not been approved with the simple notation, “contact _____ Commission.”  Upon noting such a “red flag,” a boxing / athletic commission should take heed; contact the commission that “red flagged” the proposed bout; and be advised as to why the “red flag” was placed with FightFax.  Although one commission may well disagree with the other, and has every right to do so, such basic, preliminary measures should be taken toward the ends of discouraging and averting “venue” (“commission”) shopping.

3. Inordinate delay in reporting results, including attendant suspensions, to FightFax.

It has come to the attention of the ABC that some boxing / athletic commissions are not reporting bout results, particularly suspensions issued in the aftermath of such bouts, to FightFax in a timely manner. [Federal Law mandates that a boxing / athletic commission report the results of a boxing match and any related suspensions to the boxing registries “not later than 48 hours after the conclusion of a professional boxing match” (15 USC §6307).] Multiple instances of non-adherence to this requirement have been noted in the state of California. For example, in one such instance, the results of bouts which took place on May 7, 2009 (and the attendant suspensions resulting therefrom) were not reported to FightFax until May 21, 2009 (a span of 14, not 2, days).  As a result, three boxers who had been suspended in the aftermath of their respective May 7, 2009 bouts were allowed to fight while their boxer licenses were suspended.

The ABC Legal Committee strongly encourages each of the ABC member commissions to strictly adhere to the above-referenced federal mandate.

[Note: Recognizing the “state of flux” in which the California State Athletic Commission currently is in (with the positions of Executive Officer, Assistant Executive Officer and Chief Inspector all being vacant as of this writing), the Legal Committee advises that, during this “transition period,” the ABC offer any administrative assistance it can to, or which may be requested by, the CSAC.]

4. (a) May an “amateur” MMA contestant (or his / her “team”) retain a portion of the proceeds from the tickets he / she sells to the event and continue to retain his / her amateur status?
   (b)  May an “amateur” MMA contestant receive monies from “sponsors” (e.g., to wear the sponsors’ logos on his / her shorts; to mention the sponsors’ names in the ring / cage), or otherwise profit from sponsorships, and retain his / her amateur status?

 In response to the first of these two inquiries, a majority of the ABC Legal Committee opines that an amateur MMA contestant’s receipt of a portion of the proceeds from the tickets he/she may sell should not, in and of itself, negate that fighter’s amateur status.  (Although not completely analogous, the majority notes that an amateur boxer may be paid “reasonable expenses,” as opposed to “compensation” related to his/her participation in a bout, and still retain his/her amateur status.)  Unanimously, the ABC Legal Committee opines that the far more important consideration is a notation of the rules and regulations under which an MMA contestant participates (i.e. amateur verses professional); and all agree that, once an MMA participates in an MMA contest involving professional rules and regulations, that MMA contestant is to be deemed a “professional” and may not be allowed to participate as an amateur MMA contestant at any time thereafter.

In response to the second of these two inquiries, a majority of the ABC Legal Committee opines that the receipt of monies by an amateur MMA contestant resulting from “sponsorships” should not, in and of itself, result in the MMA contestant losing his/her amateur status.

In both instances, a full, complete and accurate disclosure should be required and made, under the penalties of perjury, regarding any monies paid, directly or indirectly, to an amateur MMA contestant.

5.  Interpretation / clarification of a term contained in  the “ABC Criteria for Consistent and Objective Ratings of Boxers”

A provision of the “ABC Criteria for Consistent and Objective Ratings of Boxers” states, in pertinent part:

“In order to maintain a top rating, the boxer … shall have competed against another top rated boxer within each 18 month period from the time the boxer gets rated.” (emphasis in original)

In a recent scenario presented to the ABC Legal Committee, a boxer was rated in the top 15 by a major sanctioning organization (ratings of 1 through 15 constituting the sanctioning organization’s “top ratings”). Presumably for legitimate reasons, the boxer was dropped out of the top 15.  Sometime thereafter, although the boxer fought “lesser competition,” he again was rated among the sanctioning organization’s top 15.  Recognizing the above-quoted provision, a question has arisen as to when the “18 month period” (within which the boxer must compete against another top rated boxer) commences – from the time the boxer first broke into the top 15, or from the time the boxer returned to the top 15.

The intent of the above-quoted provision is as follows: in order to remain as a “top rated” boxer, the “top rated boxer” must fight another “top rated boxer” within each 18 month period of such a status. Noting that a boxer who is not rated among the top 15 is not required to fight a boxer who is rated in the top 15, the 18 month time frame within which a boxer must fight another “top rated” boxer is to commence anew upon the boxer’s return to a “top rating.”

6.  Non-approval by boxing / athletic commissions of proposed “matchmaking”

In 1996, Congress enacted the “Professional Boxing Safety Act” which, among other things, mandates that each boxing / athletic commission establish procedures for it to scrutinize proposed “matchmaking” and to deny its authorization for a perceived “mismatch.”  Specifically, 15 USC §6306(a)(1) provides:

“Each boxing commission shall establish … [p]rocedures to evaluate the professional records and physician’s certification (medicals) of each boxer participating in a professional boxing match in the State (or tribal land), and to deny authorization for a boxer to fight where appropriate.” (parentheses added)

Accordingly, each boxing / athletic commission should have an applicable law or regulation providing for its approval of proposed matches and the authority to deny a proposed match if it is perceived to be a mismatch.

Several member commissions of the ABC have purported that they do not have the authority to deny a “mismatch” even if a particular bout proposed by a matchmaker or promoter is perceived by the commission to be a mismatch.

Dan Fitzgerald, Chairman of the ABC’s “Matchmaking Committee” (and a member of the ABC Legal Committee), will draft form legislation / regulation which sets forth the requisite authority of a commission which is provided for in the Federal Law. Any commission purporting not to have such authority should enact / adopt such a provision immediately in order to comply with the Federal Law toward the end of ensuring boxer safety.

     Respectfully submitted,


     Bruce C. Spizler
NEXT MEETING:  Wednesday, July 7, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. EDT
[NOTE:  As reflected on the agenda for the 2009 ABC Conference, to be held in New Orleans from 7/28/09 through 7/31/09, a “Legal Committee Report,” providing an overview of numerous matters addressed by the ABC Legal Committee during the past fiscal year, will be presented.  Other extremely important matters also are on the agenda; accordingly, attendance and participation strongly are encouraged.]

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