Friday, December 25, 2009

A Quick Review of Legal and Regulatory Issues in Boxing from the Past Few Weeks

       Chavez Jr. Banned in the USA?:  Undefeated junior middleweight contender Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. may find himself suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for up to nine months following a positive test for Furosemide, a diuretic drug banned by the NSAC, after his bout with Troy Rowland on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto fight.   A formal complaint was filed against Chavez by the NSAC on December 1, 2009 and it is unknown to the author whether Team Chavez contested it within the 20 days mandated by the NSAC’s rules.  Either way, the suspension would not affect Chavez’s ability to fight in Mexico, where he is wildly popular.  Similarly, the revocation of Antonio Margarito’s license by the California State Athletic Commission earlier this year did not prevent Margarito from fighting in Mexico, where he too is wildly popular.  To date, however, Margarito has dutifully sat on the shelf and served his suspension.  Margarito will be able to reapply for a license in California early next year. 
       Minnesota Ice Nearly Iced Over Butler KO:  After initially being disqualified for knocking out Raphael Butler after the bell ending the first round of their all-Minnesota heavyweight battle on December 4, 2009, Joey (Minnesota Ice) Abell instead had a no contest placed on his record by Minnesota Combative Sports Commission.  Had the disqualification stayed on Abell’s record, he would have had 10 days to file a grievance with the MCSC.  The MCSC has a four-tiered grievance process designed to avoid such disputes from ripening into lawsuits.  After three levels of appeal involving the aggrieved boxer, his representatives, and the MCSC, the parties must submit to a binding arbitration by the American Arbitration Association.  Courts are generally hesitant to avoid to second guessing the decision rendered after a binding arbitration, as those involved generally agree beforehand that arbitration is how all disputes will be resolved…
       ABC Getting Restless with Natives of Isleta Tribe over Holm-Cisneros Fight:  Alleging that the Isleta Boxing Commission, host of the December 4, 2009 bout between female boxers Holly Holms and 11th hour replacement Victoria Cisneros, may have violated the Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996 by not having Cisneros submit to a full medical examination either before or after the bout pursuant to New Mexico rules, the Association of Boxing Commissions recently demanded a copy of the tribal resolution creating the Isleta Boxing Commission, as well as a copy of the rules adopted by the IBC once it was created.  The controversy arose after Holm was left without an opponent following the last-minute withdrawal from the fight of Melissa Hernandez.  While the IBC placed an indefinite suspension on Hernandez’s record for the withdrawal, the ABC indicated in its notice to the IBC that the suspension, as well as the results of any fights on December 4, 2009 card, would not be recognized by its member commissions until it gets satisfaction in the Cisneros situation.  As to the suspension in particular, it should be noted that such a threat is fairly toothless, since the ABC’s Regulations provide only that “[a]ll medical and administrative suspensions placed on contestants by other athletic commissions will be recognized by the supervising Commission.” (emphasis added).   The use of the term “will” rather than “shall” would appear to mandate only that a given commission notes the suspension, but does not necessarily bar a boxer from fighting under their jurisdiction as a result of same…
       Lucha Maravilla, but Miserable Scoring:  It seemed as if the ghost of Arturo Gatti welcomingly reared its head on December 5, 2009 in Atlantic City, as Paul  (The Punisher) Williams and Sergio (Maravilla) Martinez, the world’s premier junior middleweights, engaged in one for the ages at Boardwalk Hall.  After 12 fantastic rounds, an argument could have been made for either a draw, or a one or two point decision for either contestant.  That is, of course, unless you were judge Pierre Benoist, who inexplicably had the bout 119-110 for Williams.  Like the scoring in Funeka-Guzman a week or two earlier, Benoist’s card infused unnecessary controversy into an exciting battle.  Since there was generally no issue with Williams being declared the winner, and no championship belt was on the line, no formal appeal of the decision was made to either any of the sanctioning bodies or the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board.  However, do not be surprised if Benoist ends up the big loser on New Jersey’s scorecard and is not seen near a big fight again any time soon.  Sometimes, even with no legal recourse, punishment can be meted out for a boxing official’s perceived, or actual, misdeeds.  For example, anyone recall seeing referee Octavio Meyran after Don King’s claim of a long count for James (Buster) Douglas after his knockout of Mike Tyson?…
       Replay, By Any Way Alert:  While it did not end up making a difference to the outcome of the December 12, 2009 rematch between top junior welterweights Paulie (Magic Man) Malignaggi and Juan (Baby Bull) Diaz, Malignaggi was credited with a questionable knockdown in the 10th round after a cuffing right hand behind the head may or may not have caused Diaz to touch his glove to the canvas.  Illinois, like most jurisdictions, does not provide for instant replay in boxing, so in a closer fight (all three judges scored it 116-111 Malignaggi this time), things might have gotten controversial for the second time in as many fights, though perhaps it would have been Diaz launching the memorable post-fight tirade this time…
       More Iciness Over Minnesota Officiating:  Like Joey Abell earlier in the month, formerly undefeated welterweight prospect Said (The Messenger) El Harrack, now 8-1 (3 KOs), may have an opportunity to file a grievance regarding the outcome of his Shobox-televised December 18, 2009 bout with fellow prospect Lanard Lane, now 10-0 (7 KOs).  As of the date of this article’s writing, El Harrack’s team has eight more days to grieve the timing of referee Mark Nelson’s second round stoppage of the fight in favor of the aggressive Lane. Lane had already dropped El Harrack twice in the previous round.  Unlike Abell-Butler, this is simply a matter of a referee using his discretion, however poorly, rather than an issue of who heard what and when. The thought here then is, if any grievance is made, El Harrack will be unsuccessful, but perhaps Nelson may find himself on the sidelines for a moment, though perhaps not as long as Pierre Benoist finds himself on the bench after his scoring in Williams-Martinez…
       Rainmakers Among Haymakers Alert:  In the main event of the same card as Lane-El Harrack, two popular Maryland-based middleweights Fernando Guerrero and Jesse (The Beast) Nicklow engaged in an excellent bout…in Minnesota.  While it is understandable to hold such a fight where it is most amenable to being televised, this bout probably would have been a sizeable ticket seller in the Baltimore area, where each of their fan bases could have turned out in droves to support their men…
       Rigondeaux Shows He Does Not Have the Luck of the Irish: Irish boxing manager Gary Hyde recently secured a judgment against Cuban amateur legend turned undefeated bantamweight prospect Guillermo Rigondeaux over his management rights.  Hyde had signed an exclusive management agreement with Rigondeaux around the time of his ultimately unsuccessful 2007 defection from Cuba.  When he finally did defect later, Rigondeaux signed a management agreement with GSMG, Ltd and Marcus Concepcion and turned professional under their guidance. A major hurdle to this establishing Hyde’s case was whether the Florida courts would recognize the management contract, as it was not entered into under United States law.   Once the arbitrator ruled that his management contract should be recognized, however, little question appeared to remain that Hyde was entitled to enforce his contract.  Hyde will now be Rigondeaux’s manager of record until at least March 19, 2012.
      Paul Stuart Haberman, Esq. is an attorney at the New York law firm of Heidell, Pittoni, Murphy & Bach, LLP.  He is also a New York State licensed boxing manager and the Chairman of the Sports Law Committee of the New York County Lawyers Association.   He can be e-mailed at haberman.paul@gmail.com. ©




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