By Zach Arnold | September 25, 2013
On Monday, Big John McCarthy stated the obvious when he ripped into Keith Kizer as a man who simply is clueless about combat sports. His comments backed up what we wrote about Kizer over the past week about the man’s job security and just who exactly is politically protecting him. I even made a prediction as to what kind of dog-and-pony show the five-person Nevada State Athletic Commission panel would present to keep Kizer in power.
My prediction turned out to be half-right. He’s keeping his job. What I didn’t expect is that there wouldn’t even be an attempt at a dog-and-pony show in the first place as a symbolic slap on the wrist for Keith Kizer.
At Wednesday’s Nevada State Athletic Commission meeting in Las Vegas, Chairman Bill Brady stated that fighter camps & promoters will be approached before big fights with pool lists of officials and will be given an opportunity to voice any displeasure with certain officials. (In other words, nothing has changed). Kizer was asked to provide pool lists and background information on officials he nominates into pool lists for the commissioners. Kizer, amusingly, told the commissioners that if they want information on the officials he books that they can go to Boxrec and check out the information themselves. Skip Avansino, who basically is treated as the don of the commission, said that he didn’t have time to go to Boxrec and wanted information supplied to him directly on officials. Brady said that the process Kizer has been using for selecting officials and notifying others about the process has been ’somewhat sloppy.’ That was the only official criticism stated publicly on Wednesday.
Brady acknowledged a meeting the day before at the Nevada AG’s office in Las Vegas, which is next door to the NSAC office.
Kizer was asked for his pool list of officials for the Tim Bradley/Juan Manuel Marquez fight coming up in a couple of weeks. For referees, he listed three: Kenny Bayless, Robert Byrd, and Tony Weeks. His issues with Jay Nady continue. After listing a slew of judges, Kizer ended up selecting Byrd as the referee and judges which included Patricia Morse Jarman and Glenn Feldman. Kizer stated that JMM’s purse is $6 million USD and Tim Bradley’s purse is $4.1 million. Cameron Dunkin was called upon by the commission to voice any objections and none were voiced. Commissioner Francisco Aguilar asked Kizer why he doesn’t book foreign officials for top shows.
Keith Kizer’s job security remains unscathed. Marc Ratner, Skip Avansino, Lorenzo Fertitta, and Sig Rogich apparently won’t pull the plug on the guy and neither will the Attorney General or Governor offices. When Bob Arum rants and raves about the commission being controlled by Republicans, he’s actually telling the truth. It’s a very close-knit community and the political glue is Sig Rogich, a self-styled political fixer for Ronald Reagan & George H.W. Bush. Rogich is the classical political fixer who brings celebrities & pols to big fights and has a school named after him in Las Vegas. Rogich has lobbied the Nevada state legislature to legalize gay marriage & raise state taxes & increase immigration; he’s pretty much your classic Establishment Republican who has the ear of every state pol & wannabe pol nationally because of his public relations operation, Rogich Communications Group, and his background in advertising. So, while Bob Arum is right that Republicans controls the Nevada State Athletic Commission, he’s entirely wrong about Rogich being a racist if you look at his track record on immigration.
When it comes to advertising, Sig Rogich is a man whose claim to fame is coming up with the infamous Michael Dukakis “tank” campaign ad in 1988 despite Roger Ailes reportedly being involved in the process.
Mr. Rogich is the money man behind the World Series of Fighting, the unofficial bastard child of UFC & semi-stalking horse of Bellator. He is very close to the Zuffa family. He also is the former Chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Rogich and his allies have apparently decided that Keith Kizer isn’t enough of a political liability to stain their reputations. They’re wrong and eventually something horrible, like a death in the ring, will have to occur before they decide to pull the plug on what has been an embarrassing spectacle over the last seven years. The casinos are legitimately concerned about the reputation of the commission because they don’t want to lose activity for big fights at the sportsbooks. However, Rogich & Lorenzo & Ratner & Avansino apparently have no qualms about keeping Keith Kizer in place at the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
As one close Nevada insider stated, “What else did you think would happen? If [the political fixers] admit [Kizer] isn’t good enough, they have to get rid of him now. That doesn’t mean they won’t move him on if he continues to screw up but these guys are experts as how to handle all of this and Sig is one of the finest PR guys in the world for crisis management.”
Most PR firms tell their clients to publicly admit that they have a problem and then ask for public forgiveness. The political fixers that control the Nevada State Athletic Commission won’t even do that. Hell, they allegedly can’t even get Keith Kizer to attend yearly Assocation of Boxing Commission meetings.