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The good, bad, and awful of heavyweight fights promoted by Main Events, Bellator, and Golden Boy

By Zach Arnold | April 5, 2014

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Three TV shows spanning two days on American cable networks featuring the heavyweights. The ultimate boom-or-bust gamble. When you get a good heavyweight fight, there’s nothing like it. When you get a lousy heavyweight fight, which is more often than not the norm, it sucks. It really sucks.

There were three shows that we watched carefully: a Golden Boy show Thursday night on Fox Sports 1 from Fantasy Springs (California), a Main Events show from Philadelphia on NBC Sports Network, and the Bellator Reno Events Center show on Spike TV. Each show represented the good, the bad, and the awful of heavyweights going the distance.

The good? Main Events had a pretty fun show with Steve Cunningham beating Amir Mansour on points after 10 rounds. Neither guy is Top 10 material, but this fight blew away anything on the Golden Boy show. The crowd was really great, too. The semi-main with Curtis Stevens pulling a miracle out of his ass in the 10th round over Tureano Johnson, regardless of the questionable stoppage, was quite the moment. Pennsylvania’s commission does a good job regulating the Main Events shows.

The bad? Cheick Kongo vs. Vitaly Minakov for Bellator’s Heavyweight title started out OK but devolved into a total lay-and-pray hang-on-for-dear-life survival fest that was neither strategic nor exciting. I’m used to Cheick Kongo zombie KOs, nut shots, and dirty clinching. But he gassed out and so did Minakov. Despite getting nut-shotted twice in the first round, Kongo didn’t take advantage of Minakov. He had a clear striking advantage in fire fights but just never chose to go that route consistently. Minakov wore him down and made him play his game. The unanimous 48-46 score from the three judges was the only acceptable result. Interesting that we haven’t had much controversy in Nevada since Keith Kizer’s exit last January. Hopefully, Bellator’s four-man heavyweight series next week delivers better than the Reno fight. The Reno crowd seemed enthusiastic to see Kongo win but he didn’t come through.

The ugly? Golden Boy’s Thursday telecast from Southern California featuring three heavyweight bouts was an absolute dog’s breakfast. Making it even worse was the quality of the regulation by the California officials & athletic inspectors.

Four fights were televised on FS1. Dominic Breazeale had an ugly unanimous decision win over Nagy Aguilera. Gerald Washington had a goofy showcase two-round win over Skipp Scott. And Luis Ortiz punished 42-year old Monte Barrett, a guy who has had one win in the last five years.

The fights were awful. And the regulators weren’t that much better. Guess who was back as a judge for a TV show in California after the Julio Cesar Chavez/Bryan Vera controversy? Marty Denkin. He sure got phased out after that decision last year.

The fight between Washington and Scott was silly season. The two big guys were pushing each other around. In round two, Washington hit Scott and staggered him. Scott took a knee. Right in front of Lou Moret. And while down on his knee, Scott got blasted by Washington. And the fight was done. Here’s the photographic proof:

This was so blatant that lead athletic inspector Mark Relyea should have immediately re-started the match or declared it a no contest. The fact that Washington’s win stood was totally bush league. And Moret allowing Scott to get punched while taking a knee was completely preventable and just outright dangerous. It was careless & reckless.

But we’ve been down this road before with Moret. He built his political power in California due to his connections with CalPERS, the state’s retirement pension system. The guy was reportedly involved in a $48 million dollar garbage contract.

Both Relyea & Moret were also booked for the Montebello show last September where trainer Rodrigo Mosquera got caught with one of his boxers using altered gloves. The inspectors backstage didn’t catch the gloves. Relyea didn’t catch the gloves. It was Lou Moret who caught them in the ring. Two months after that incident, Andy Foster suspended Mosquera indefinitely. Mosquera proceeded to get a new license at the Golden Boy show at Fantasy Springs last December, the same day the suspension letter was made public. Mosquera would go on to work a Golden Boy event last January at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn while on suspension.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, Mosquera appeared at a February 10th CSAC meeting in Los Angeles. At that meeting, Andy Foster, as noted by the state’s own meeting minutes, wanted the suspensions of both Mosquera and the boxer to end after five months. What a message to send to cheaters in California.

Fast-forward to Thursday’s Golden Boy show in Fantasy Springs. There was something noticeably wrong with the way gloves were taped on some of the fighters.

To give you a photographic example to compare/contrast, here’s a photo from a Shane Mosley fight:

Notice the tape is only on the cuff of the wrist and does not extend into the palm of the glove. The padding is even and the laces aren’t pushing or cutting into the padding of the glove. If you watched the two fights NBCSN aired of the Main Events show in Philadelphia, you saw a similar kind of tape job for the gloves. Professional and done right.

Now, take a look at some of the tape jobs that the California athletic inspectors approved at the Fantasy Springs show. This problem isn’t centered around a single fighter. This kind of piss-poor tape job was approved for all the fighters on the card.

First up, Luis Ortiz (who fought in the main event):

As one inspector stated to us, “There is no legal reason for the lace to extend beyond the gloves cuff. The only reason for taping the gloves past the cuff is to cover the lace that is in the padding.”

Here’s a close-up of Skipp Scott and his glove:

Here’s a few more examples from other fighters:

And this…

And one more shot…

So, what’s the issue here? The issue isn’t with the fighters or the managers — it’s the regulators. Because the inspectors allowed & approved such questionable tape jobs on the gloves of all the fighters, any fighter could have easily gotten away with using a skinned glove by moving the padding & lacing around with the kind of tape jobs that the regulators approved in the locker room. By allowing improper taping of all the gloves on the show, the regulators are (wittingly or unwittingly) creating a scenario of plausible deniability when it comes to knowledge of a fighter using skinned gloves because, hey, all the tapings and gloves looked the same.

After the Mosquera incident and the approval of this kind of taping at Thursday’s show, would you trust the regulators to detect skinned gloves with the padding being pushed to the wrist and the laces cutting into the padding?

In a best case scenario, it’s terribly shoddy work. In a worst case scenario, some of the fighters could have been using skinned gloves and none of the inspectors would have a clue even if the evidence was in front of their own eyes.

California deserves so much better and so do both the fighters & the fans. Every time I watch a boxing event from New Jersey or Pennsylvania compared to California, the difference in regulatory quality sticks out like a sore thumb. If Naazim Richardson, who worked as Steve Cunningham’s trainer on Friday, had been at the Golden Boy event on Thursday he would have shouted down the inspectors who allowed & approved the taping of the gloves on the fight card. Then again, he caught Antono Margarito with illegal hand-wraps in 2009 and the guy who was in the center of the mess, Che Guevara, got promoted to Chief Athletic Inspector by the politicos.

Topics: Bellator, Boxing, CSAC, MMA, Media, Zach Arnold | 12 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

12 Responses to “The good, bad, and awful of heavyweight fights promoted by Main Events, Bellator, and Golden Boy”

  1. Diaz's cashed bowl says:

    I was looking forward to a good HW title fight, but in the 5th round the Darkness took over and I woke up a half hour later.

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    Yeah but Minakov is the best Heavyweight in the world!

    Bellator has been a giant bust this season. The Eddie Alvarez situation certainly hurt them as they are attracting almost no good prospects right now. Their tournaments are filled with mostly C-Level fighters.

    • Chuck says:

      But Minakov is really good. He just has really terrible stamina, and not great striking defense. Kongo could have won that fight if he just engaged with the punching more, but he didn’t. I expect Blagoi Ivanov to win the heavyweight tournament, and to beat Minakov for the heavyweight belt. Ivanov has shoddy stamina as well, but he’s a more complete package.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        Definitely a Top 20 Heavyweight. Maybe Top 15. Heavyweight is pretty weak still.

        • Chuck says:

          Can’t disagree with either point there man. Sherdog has Minakov in the “other contenders” section of their rankings, basically at thirteen I guess, but Kongo one spot ahead of him (not updated, mind you). So….Minakov at about twelve or thirteen seems right? Seems right to me. I still think Ivanov is going to spank him.

  3. Chris says:

    The Main Events show was definitely the high point for fights this week. I had a scheduling conflict between Bellator and the Main Events show, and chose the Boxing card hands down.

  4. 45 Huddle says:

    Jake Shields has been released by the UFC.

    “Hey, we are super concerned about brain damage. But if you try and win a fight by any method besides bashing in the skull of your opponent, we will fire you after 1 loss.”

    That is exactly the message the UFC has sent out with the releases of Jon Fitch, Yushin Okami, & Jake Shields. And with the non-signing of Ben Askren.

    Complete horse sh!t Zuffa has become.

  5. Joe Ulrey says:

    Dear Fight Opinion…..while you obviously receive good advise, your gloves/skinning (with photos) is obviously an opinion of somebody who has never taped a glove on the fighter…..skinning occurs when the padding is distorted by the laces and the tape to cover the lace is well into the padded area. Your illustrations show gloves where the lace is in the “crease” of the glove. The way to cover the lace within the crease (so that the laces cannot be used as a weapon) is for the tape to cover the crease completely….this means that the tape will(almost always)touch the padded area of the glove….Tape touching the padded area of the glove is not skinning. Skinning is a distortion of the padding created by the lace distorting the padding. In your photos the padding is not distorted and the tape is merely touching the padded area of the glove to prevent an exposed lace being used as a weapon. I would welcome the opportunity to demonstrate to you at any event I am working.

    An example of “skinning” for the uneducated eye would be to look at the gloves of Marco Antonio Barrera versus Rocky Juarez (fight 2/Nevada)…..It would be good if Fight Opinion would publish a picture of Barrera’s gloves… the gloves to fight 1 (California) and possibly show the difference in damage to Juarez after each fight. If Fight Opinion wants to inform the public and not “sensationalize” you will do this.

    • Nevada Bob says:

      There is no legal reason to incorporate any padding in the lacing. If a professional inspection and taping had been done as shown in the Shane Mosley fight there would be no need to defend it.

      • Joe Ulrey says:

        Again fight opinion….you are attempting to spread a lie. Nobody is saying that the lacing should be incorporated in the padding. It is important that the lacing that is in the crease and on the cuff be covered completely with tape. As shown in the mislabeled skinning photos…..that involves TAPE covering the lace in the crease. To do so properly requires that the tape will touch the padded area of the glove. If you truly want your readers to understand skinning,Barrera Juarez 2 is an example. Additionally my offer to demonstrate proper taping of gloves to you still stands….the truth doesn’t necessarily create sensational headlines but it is important that you understand what you are writing about.

        • Zach Arnold says:

          Article didn’t say any of the gloves demonstrated evidence of skinning. What the article said is that the tape jobs approved by the inspectors were reckless enough to allow skinning if a bad actor wanted to do so and thus gave inspectors already involved in a prior glove incident plausible deniability to say, hey, we don’t know.

  6. Joe Ulrey says:

    Zack…..The tape in the photos is not over the padded part of the glove except where it touches after covering the lace in the ctease…..there is not one example of the laces being in the palm of the glove…..Please explain the reckless tape jobs…..From the pictures you present……100% of the lace is covered by tape….and as you now conceed, none “demonstrate evidence of skinning”……Please elaborate on the “reckless taping allegation”……


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