By Zach Arnold | April 1, 2013
This is Jami (Alise McClellan) Molloy, the woman working at Florida’s DBPR (Department of Business & Professional Regulations). She’s the wife of Tom Molloy, the former front man for Florida’s athletic commission. They both work/worked together & met at the DBPR. Thomas Edmund Molloy (born on 2/4/1955 in New York) married Jami Alise McClellan (born on November 11th, 1986 in Georgia) on July 7th, 2012 in Tallahassee, Florida.
Tom Molloy, whose claim to fame in getting the Florida job was that he lost to Tony Danza in a boxing match, ended up working alongside Jami, lifer-since-1985-at-DBPR Christa Patterson, and others to run Florida’s athletic commission into the ground. Remember, it was a state audit that revealed that only one of 51 shows for a calendar year actually had accounting records. Molloy was fired, but DBPR continues to protect Jami Molloy & Christa Patterson by keeping them on state payroll.
Since Tom Molloy’s departure from the commission, nothing really has changed. Frank Gentile, who was a Molloy favorite as a referee in the state, is now the Assistant Executive Director. His wife, Kathy, is the lead supervisor for major shows in the state. Their son works as an athletic inspector.
After Molloy got fired, there was all sorts of wild speculation as to what he was up to — including rumor-spreading that he was interested in getting a gig with Don King Productions in South Florida. That’s a long ways away from Tallahassee.
So, to put the rumors to rest, we know that Molloy is still in Tallahassee. How do we know this? The folks at WCTV in Tallahassee put mugshots online from arrests this past weekend in Leon County, Florida… and guess who made an appearance?
Molloy has been charged with one count of DOMV/BATTERY TOUCH OR STRIKE. He was arrested on Saturday.
I’m sure Frank Gentile will be happy to hear your feedback on this Friday’s conference call at 10 AM EST at 1-888-670-3525 (passcode: 3051490078 then hit the # key).
Perhaps this would be a good time to remind you that, if you haven’t done so, you should listen to my interview with Jordan Breen of Sherdog taped a couple of weeks ago regarding the current state of affairs in Florida. The timing couldn’t be any better.
By Zach Arnold | April 1, 2013
When HBO cut ties with Golden Boy and allowed GB to marry with Showtime, I wrote an article stating that it’s now Golden Boy & Showtime vs. HBO & The Field and that was Ken Hershman, the former Showtime boss, is doing at HBO is no different than what he was doing at his old perch. The only difference is that HBO is HBO and Showtime is Showtime.
With Tim Bradley vs. Ruslan Provodnikov (at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA) and Mike Alvarado vs. Brandon Rios II (in Las Vegas) this past month, Top Rank has had a nice little streak going here. Bob Arum has indicated that holding a fight with Mike Alvarado headlining in Denver is not out of the question.
When Kevin Iole asked Arum about the hot streak Top Rank is on, Bob brought up the subject of the Golden Boy/Showtime marriage and how The Field is basically having to work together to make the fights that the fans want to see.
“Fans want to see action and they want to see exciting fights. That’s what the fans want to see. Now, some people who are involved in boxing want to sign fighters and have them fight tomato cans and have networks pay to show those fights and it goes on and on and on. That’s not what the fans want. The fans want Bradley & Provodnikov. Lou DiBella is going to be doing a fight a little later this year with (Gennady) Golovkin against (Matthew) Macklin. I’m a promoter, I love boxing… but that fight I would pay to see! I mean, that’s going to be a hell of a fight!”
Arum’s announcement of Golovkin/Macklin came as news to the press in the room. Golovkin defeated Nobuhiro Ishida over the weekend in Monaco.
“So, I think that it’s not only us at Top Rank, I think that other promoters who don’t have a sinecure from a particular network also have that type of mentality. So, I think it’s great, great news for boxing fans because we’re going to give them competition. Goddamn, you see some of these games in March Madness where in the last four seconds somebody sinks a basket and wins the game and it’s like a nail-biter, right till the end. Well, that’s why fans love to watch it. Fans love to watch boxing if it’s exciting, if it’s competitive, and not if it’s appearance fights.
“Now, for years, we were fed a steady diet of this kid (Andre) Berto with guys that nobody remembers their names. That cost millions of dollars to one of the networks and what they did get from it? [Nothing.] And what did their subscribers get? The finger! (media laughs) And some guy who used to be in the music business raped HBO and hoodwinked the public and that hopefully now is over… except maybe (for) the network that gives out sinecures. But they’re second, so who cares? Nobody watches them anyways.”
A reporter then asked Arum about Oscar De La Hoya claiming that he canceled his HBO subscription.
“Oscar is absolutely, you know, one of the brainiest guys that I’ve ever known and he probably did it while he was putting on those, uh, kind of leggings. (media laughs) No, I really mean it, who the hell is Oscar De La Hoya? He’s a moron!”
If The Field continues to work together and remain united against the Golden Boy/Showtime marriage, then one fight we may end up seeing is Andre Ward vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. I suspect JCC Jr. will consider fighting Ward on home turf in Oakland. Anywhere but Nevada at this point. It will be interesting to see what fights promoters like Lou DiBella, Gary Shaw, and Danny Goossen are able to produce in tandem with Top Rank (Todd DuBoef, Carl Moretti, & Brad Goodman) in the coming months. Next stop: Macau (Venetian Casino & Resort), this coming weekend w/ Brian Viloria vs. Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman Martinez vs. Diego Magdaleno for HBO.
By Zach Arnold | March 30, 2013
Nick Kalikas and his crew at MMAOddsBreaker.com have released the odds for the upcoming April 13th fight between Urijah Faber & Scott Jorgensen that will air on FX. UFC has three major shows in April with stacked cards and Faber/Jorgensen kicks off the hot April string of fights.
To summarize what Nick and his guests had to say about the betting line, Faber is a -420 favorite and climbing. He could get as high as -500, which means he’s a parlay play more than he is a straight play.
“Any Jorgensen can do, Urijah does it better.”
Here’s video of an interview that aired last night on
HDNet AXS TV with Scott Jorgensen about the upcoming fight.
“This fight with Urijah is an interesting match-up because we’re buddies, we’re close friends. He’s the guy who talked me into fighting but we both made up our minds that we’re going to step inside the Octagon on April 13th and beat the hell out of each other, so…”
“I did think it was kind of, you know, I thought he was kind of messing with me at first but… when I got the first text or the phone call from OUR manager, you know, Urijah and I share a manager, and uh… I basically just said, all right, well, that’s what they want, that’s what we do. I have never and I will never pick a fight. I won’t turn a fight down, I’ll take whatever they throw at me. As far as is it going to affect the fight, you know, Urijah and I both coming from a wreslting background, it’s what we’ve done all our lives. We’ve competed against friends. I’ve competed for years against friends and you separate it when it’s game time, you go in there and take care of business and then after, you know, Urijah and I are going to go throw an afterparty together, so…”
“It was my senior year and I wasn’t even wrestling at the tournament. I’d been out with an injury. It was at the Reno tournament of champions. He was coaching at UC Davis. I was there just supporting my teammates at Boise State, just out there watching the tournament because I couldn’t wrestle and he was fighting and he had his shirts and everything and I was talking to him, you know, and he was like, ‘oh, you should try it, you know, you’re done after this year, you know, you should try it and I think you’ll like it, you’ll do well with it,’ and I was like, oh, okay, yeah, yeah, and you know, I went and finished the season, did not finish in the All-American realm like I wanted to at the NCAA tournament and… like, literally, we flew home on a Sunday, Monday I went and found a place to start training and it slowly progressed into this. It started as a hobby, you know, I just wanted to do it just to try it and you know four fights later of picking fights from, taking fights from 155 all the way down to 145 I guess at the time and then the opportunity to go fight for Elite XC popped up after about my fourth or fifth fight and I took it. That was my first fight at 135 and I’ve been here since and you know I went from Ekite XC to the WEC to now being in the UFC, you know, and I like to think I grew up in Zuffa, you know, I got I think 13, 14 fights under the Zuffa banner and so, you know, I feel right at home inside there.”
By Zach Arnold | March 28, 2013
To read all CSAC-related articles, dating back to May 2012, CLICK HERE.
The bad news is that Eugene Hernandez, the current Vice Chairman of the commission, had his term expired and the battle was lost to keep his job. That’s what happens when you have nasty politicians in Sacramento who hold grudges (in this case, a smart guess would be that he lost his job because he didn’t go along with Denise Brown’s program in getting George Dodd fired. You either go the DCA way or you get canned.)
This leaves us with John Frierson (CSAC Chairman), Dean Grafilo (SEIU guy from Sacramento), Dr. VanBuren Ross Lemons (Sacramento doctor), and Dr. Christopher Giza (UCLA doctor). Now, you can add two new names to the board.
Mary (Alice) Lehman, 49, of Palm Desert, has been appointed to the California State Athletic Commission. Lehman has been a civil appeals attorney at the Law Offices of Mary A. Lehman since 1995. She was an attorney with Gray Cary Ware and Freidenrich LLP from 1991 to 2002. She was a professional boxer from 1999 to 2002, ranking as high as number nine in the world for her weight class. Lehman earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of San Diego School of Law. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Lehman is a Democrat.
Martha Shen-Urquidez, 50, of Oxnard, has been appointed to the California State Athletic Commission. Shen-Urquidez has been CEO of USAsia since 2007. She was cross-cultural affairs expert for the Beijing Olympics Organization from 2006 to 2008, senior protocol officer with the California South Bay Economic Development Partnership from 1994 to 2001 and court appointed arbitrator at the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles from 1994 to 1999. Shen-Urquidez was a judge pro tem for Los Angeles County from 1994 to 1998, attorney and training expert with multiple police departments in Southern California from 1989 to 2004 and an attorney in private practice from 1986 to 2005. She served as a credentialed boxing judge from 2000 to 2001. Shen-Urquidez earned a Juris Doctorate degree from Whittier Law School. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Shen-Urquidez is a Republican.
All in all, they’re not bad choices. Martha is sharp and will be an ally for Andy Foster. Mary Lehman of Lehman Appeals in Coronado (San Diego) is a former boxer and an attorney. The big question is whether or not they will work with Andy Foster or will they become… pliable… when Sacramento comes calling on a decision and a politician at the Capitol doesn’t want the board members to go along with what’s best for California combat sports.
Regardless of the new appointments, the real problem for the California State Athletic Commission remains the stooges at the Department of Consumer Affairs (Denise Brown, Awet Kidane, legal nitwit Doreathea Johnson, chief athletic inspector Che Guevara) and budgetary issues that arise every year in the California Legislature in regards to who gets what in the Governor’s budget.
By Zach Arnold | March 28, 2013
The good news for Robert Guerrero is that it appears his May 4th fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Las Vegas is still going to happen. The bad news is that after that fight, he may get the Plaxico Burress treatment from the state of New York and spend time in jail after being arrested on gun charges at JFK Airport.
He had an unloaded gun in his possession while trying to board a flight to Las Vegas. Bloviating Queens district attorney Richard A. Brown was quoted as saying the following:
“I hope that Mr. Guerrero fights better than he thinks. For anyone who hasn’t gotten the message, let me be crystal clear: You cannot bring an unlicensed weapon — loaded or unloaded — into this county or this city. And if you do you will be arrested and face felony charges.”
Guerrero presented a locked gun box to a Delta Airlines ticket agent. So, for his honesty (and idiocy), he got hammered. When you go into the land of Michael Bloomberg, you kind of know what you are getting into. Maybe if his name was David Gregory, he wouldn’t have been arrested. The Washington D.C. way of gun law enforcement. Instead, Rikers looks more like a possible temporary home for The Ghost. Ask Lil Wayne about what kind of experience that is. Just don’t drink the sizzurp.
As Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated adroitly stated, “Robert Guerrero chose the worst state to bring a gun to.” Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports states that he doesn’t think Guerrero will spend a day in prison. I’d beg to differ on this one. Guerrero’s fight with Floyd Mayweather makes him a more visible name and for media-hungry prosecutors, it makes the boxer a prime target for throwing the book at in order to make an example out of someone. Keith Kizer, who worked in Nevada’s D.A. office before heading to the athletic commission, is already wavering about whether or not Guerrero will still fight Mayweather.
Guerrero’s high-profile arrest is the latest in a string of gun-related arrests at JFK amongst travelers, and the nature of who just got arrested here will certainly bring in political groups like the NRA to the mix in regards to the 2nd Amendment. Gun control remains a hotly-contested political issue in the United States, especially New York state with their new gun laws. California is also poised to pass their own new gun laws as well.
In other crime blotter news, Rory Markham was arrested on a felony assault charge in Iowa.
Fertitta corporate board member is a member of the Nevada commission’s steroids & drug testing panel
By Zach Arnold | March 28, 2013
When it comes to the issue of the testosterone plague in Mixed Martial Arts, we know who helped let the genie out of the bottle. The UFC may be saying all the right things publicly about wanting to put the genie back in the bottle, but they helped create the environment we have today in combat sports for testosterone usage (via permission slips). The athletic commissions simply followed where the winds were blowing. The Nevada State Athletic Commission is the worst offender.
Last Thursday, the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s Steroid & Drug Testing Panel held a meeting to bloviate about what to do next with fighters using testosterone. Damon Martin published the following article: Nevada Commission Discussing Possibles Changes to Testosterone Policy and Testing Levels
Instead of changing the rules on Thursday however the commission instead voted to do further investigation into the normal levels of testosterone ratios in fighters that compete in their state.
The idea presented by the commission during their meeting was to conduct a study of a wide range of fighters either past or going forward to determine what a “normal” level of testosterone ratio would be. Most fighters test under the legal limits, but the commissioners in Nevada are trying to get a sense of what level under 4:1 they are testing at, on average.
The study conducted will be internal only for the commission and not for public consumption.
The main voice on the NSAC steroid & drug testing panel is former NSAC Chairman Dr. James Nave, a long-time veterinarian. When Marc Ratner, former NSAC boss, was talking with Dr. Nave last week about how the NSAC should be not as heavy-handed in punishing fighters who test positive for marijuana on drug tests, one interesting factoid was omitted about Dr. Nave’s relationship with the Fertitta family which runs the UFC.
Dr. James Nave happens to be on the board of directors for Station Casinos. Yeah, that Station Casinos. Take a look for yourself with this Business Week graphic:
Business Week claims that at age 67, Dr. Nave’s total calculated compensation is $102,000. Take a look at his bio — he’s been on the board of directors for Station Casinos since June 2011. So, while the testosterone plague has grown… and grown… and grown in MMA, Dr. Nave is on the NSAC steroid & drug testing panel board.
Is Dr. Nave someone who is going to change what is happening in regards to how Keith Kizer and associate Dr. Tim Trainor handle which fighters get to use testosterone and which fighters should be suspended for elevated levels of testosterone on drug test results? No, but the conflict of interest and dog-and-pony-show aspect to what is going on right now with the UFC & the Nevada State Athletic Commission is foolish. You couldn’t find a better example of what a charade UFC’s PR campaign is right now to try to convince you that they really, really care about the testosterone plague in combat sports. They care so much, they built their main reality TV show this season (The Ultimate Fighter) around the most high-profile testosterone user of all in order to build him up for a main event PPV match at the end of April… in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Addendum: The fight was originally scheduled to happen (at the last-minute) in Las Vegas but was canceled. This upcoming fight is happening in Newark, New Jersey.
By Zach Arnold | March 27, 2013
In private conversations, many important players who are involved in the fight industry (both boxing & MMA) are upset by what they saw with ESPN profiling Garrett Holeve, a young man with Down’s Syndrome who is participating in amateur MMA fights. However, there is trepidation of speaking out in public due to fear of retribution & backlash.
On Sunday night, we posted the following item: Florida allows young man with Down’s Syndrome & Rheumatoid Arthritis to do MMA fights
Last Thursday, ESPN PR posted the following pitch for their Sunday night video feature on Garrett Holeve:
Garrett Holeve, 23, was born with Down Syndrome and has spent the last three years training his body and mind for the rigors of MMA fighting. While some question the decision to allow Holeve to engage in such physical competition, the sport has given him a sense of fight – a belonging, purpose and acceptance – that extends beyond the ring. Tom Rinaldi reports.
“He’s got all these problems you know, all these limitations. But he keeps driving through, he keeps fighting through you know. And you can’t ask more from a person than that” – Rodrigo “Baga” Ramos, Garrett’s coach, on the motivation Garrett provides to the other fighters at the gym.
The fight involving Garrett Holeve that ESPN aired was from February 23rd, 2013 in Sunny Isles, Florida at the Newport Beachfront Hotel.
When ESPN aired the feature on Garrett Holeve, I knew what the reaction would be on social media and what the reaction would be inside the fight industry. Here’s a clue: two very, very different and vociferous responses. Amongst sports fans on social media, the video package was heralded as a profile-in-courage and something to be celebrated. Take this comment for example:
Pls RT this inspirational story of strength,courage,determination & how far 1 can go if u believe …..
Writer Daniel Serrano characterized the ESPN video this way:
Holeve’s father said people called him sick for letting his son fight, accusing him of exploiting Holeve and putting him at unnecessary risk. I say he’s a hero, because if he really wanted to, Holeve’s father could have prevented his son from fighting. He could have made a compelling argument as to why his son wasn’t ring-ready and should be barred from competition. But he didn’t.
Instead, he treated his son like a human being. He didn’t look at him like a disabled kid who needs to be coddled and protected from the real world. He honored his son’s decision and training and let him fight.
This item Jordan Breen wrote (January 8th, 2013) titled Should Garrett Holeve, MMA fighter with Down Syndrome, be given a fair fight? pretty much is the opinion that as long as Garrett isn’t involved in a full-fledged pro MMA fight, the situation is OK.
Inside the industry, however, a lot of individuals are angry and terrified by what they saw on television Sunday night.
By Zach Arnold | March 26, 2013
No enjoys watching Keith Kizer squirm under pressure more than yours truly and the man rightfully deserves the political heat he is attracting. The $900,000 fine by the Nevada State Athletic Commission is going to turn out to be a pyrrhic victory.
MARCOS: “Junior’s been in the news recently. For our viiewers, I wanted to get your reaction to what happened with him and his fine due to the marijuana result he had with the Martinez fight.”
BOB ARUM: “Well, in the almost 50 years I’ve been in boxing, this was the stupidest decision that I’ve ever seen an athletic commission come down with. I mean, to fine somebody $900,000 USD or anything like $900,000 USD for smoking a joint 10 days before a fight is, to my mind, ludicrous.”
MARCOS: “Do you feel the commission was trying to make an example out of Junior to tell other people that might think of doing it, hey, don’t do it?”
BOB ARUM: “The commission didn’t know what it was doing, doesn’t know what it was doing, and… why should they be imposing any kind of fine on somebody that smoked 10 days before, pot, which is legal in so many states? I mean, let’s go into this century. Have you smoked it? You Goddamn right you smoke it. Do I smoke it? You damn right, I smoke it. I mean, let’s be honest, let’s be real. What they should be looking at is performance ehnahcning drugs — steroids, testosterone. There, throw the book at somebody who violates. For smoking pot? Are you out of your mind? It’s a traffic ticket in most places.”
MARCOS: “Given, you know, with that… what do you feel a commission should do when that situaiton comes up, you as a promoter, what have you tried to do to kind of stem this? It seemed that a lot of people reacted the same way as you have, saying that the fine is way too much.”
BOB ARUM: “They shouldn’t fine anything. They shouldn’t test for marijuana. If it comes up, as long as the guy didn’t smoke a joint before he went into the fight, what the hell difference does it make? What effect does it have? I mean, are they cops, are they policemen? What about… what happens if they said that if you had a drink 10 days before we could fine you, I mean, this is nonsense. This is now the 21st Century. I mean these people, look… the problem in Nevada is you have a commission that’s a bunch of conservative Republicans that would like to deport any Mexican that lives in Nevada and isn’t a citizen. It’s that mentality that’s not accepted by the American public. I mean, it’s a hard thing to say but it’s really true. You can’t believe in your heart that if that was a commission made up of Democrats, particularly liberal Democrats, that they wouldn’t have just laughed at that and maybe fine the guy $1,000 USD.”
MARCOS: “You really feel that given Junior’s status and his race that had an effect (on the) decision, say if Chavez was a white fighter, a Mike Lee or something like, you feel would have been not as much the fine as was given to him?”
BOB ARUM: “I really think that Julio (Cesar) Chavez Jr. being a Mexican national allowed them to come down with what is an outrageous type of fine which violates the Nevada Constitution and the U.S. Constitution. There is in both constitutions a prohibition against excessive fines and they violated it. $900,000 USD for smoking a joint which, at most, is a traffic ticket in most places is ludicrous and absurd and it’s excessive and it will be overturned by the courts.”
MARCOS: “I feel the majority of boxing fans would agree with you on that point given Junior…”
BOB ARUM: “It’s got nothing to do with boxing fans! It’s got to do with citizens, with the public. It has nothing to do with boxing. This is an outrageous decision and it’s an outrageous penalty.”
By Zach Arnold | March 25, 2013
If you’ve read Brian J. D’Souza’s book, then you know that his focus as an author is about the top fighters in Mixed Martial Arts and how they are doing outside the cage in terms of all the drama surrounding finances, trainers, and business deals. Consider him as a more down-to-Earth and compassionate version of Darren Rovell.
He recently did a 50-minute interview with Nate Wilcox of MMA Nation and I would recommend that you check out the video. Most of the questions build off of what Brian mentions in his book. For example, the introduction is about the agents that Georges St. Pierre has used in the past and why he has his current business dealings set up the way they are.
Nate brings up trainer Victor Vargotsky, who used to work with GSP but was shown the door.
NATE WILCOX: “When they talk about GSP, they talk Greg Jackson, they talk Firas Zahabi the head coach at Tri-Star. They might talk Phil Nurse. But one guy that gets overlooked a little bit is Victor Vargotsky who was the kickboxing coach, coached the Klitschkos back in the day. You credit him with rebuilding GSP after the first Matt Hughes loss. What happened to Vargotsky? How did he become a forgotten man in the GSP story?”
BRIAN J. D’SOUZA: “OK, first of all, he only taught Vitali and then from 15 to 19 when Vitali goes in the army, he’s done with him. But Vitali did win these titles, these kickboxing titles with Vargotsky.
“Why he’s forgotten is the same way so many trainers are forgotten. People are expendable in the fight game. Journalists are expendable, never mind the trainers. The trainers, to stick with a fighter, it is not just about whether or not they are good trainer. It’s also do they fit into the management’s perspective? You see this when you read up on Emmanuel Steward, how Don King promises him Tyson or, you know, fighters get promised in part of a package? In the MMA side, you know, Vargotsky after the Serra loss, after Georges gets knocked out, he has harsh words. He makes Georges feel bad and you cannot underestimate the pain of loss, how awful it feels to have someone come to you and give it to you straight and say, “you gave this guy your title on a silver platter. You did nothing to prevent him from beating you.” It’s a really painful moment. It doesn’t really matter if Vargotsky was right or if he was a good trainer, he said the wrong thing at the wrong time and… and on top of that, too, he’s the guy who’s going to push, push, push Georges, you know? Even when Georges is making millions.
“What you really see in the Jake Shields fight, OK, and maybe you disagree, Georges didn’t train as hard as he could have. He wasn’t as sharp as he normally is in the striking. Jake Shields is as good or very close to Georges in striking? I don’t think so. Georges didn’t train or prepare properly. Vargotsky would have pushed him. And the more money fighters make, the more successful they are, the more people who are pliable… I don’t want to say yes-man, I don’t like that word, but people around him are pliable and they take their own way.”
Nate and Brian transition to GSP to BJ Penn and how Penn developed in the sport of MMA. They cover ground regarding BJ’s relationship with Ralph Gracie and the ups-and-downs between Penn and Dana White. The infamous spat between BJ and Dana over BJ’s autobiography was brought up for elaboration.
By Zach Arnold | March 24, 2013
If you click the picture, you can view a video feature that ESPN produced and aired on their Sunday night edition of Sportscenter. The piece is about Garrett “G-Money” Holeve, a 23-year old young man with Down’s Syndrome and Rheumatoid Arthritis, who is currently involved in amateur MMA fights in the state of Florida. The amateur MMA fights involving Garrett are being regulated by the International Sport Karate/Kickboxing Association (ISKA), one of the many approved sanctioning bodies that Florida’s beleaguered athletic commission allows to regulate bouts. Garrett currently trains at American Top Team in Weston, Florida and has many friends in Mixed Martial Arts, including Stephan Bonnar.
Perhaps I should remind you of my radio interview last week with Sherdog about the state of affairs with Florida’s athletic commission.
Garrett and his family have started a non-profit (Garrett’s Fight) to raise money for special needs athletes, especially those who want to be active in combat sports. Their goal is to get MMA as an approved sport in the Special Olympics.
The Broward-Palm Beach New Times did a profile article on Garrett last December. It’s well worth your time to read. One paragraph from the article stuck out to me:
“For someone with Down syndrome, Garrett is extremely high functioning. Still, his cognitive ability is roughly equivalent to that of a 12-year-old’s. His reading and math skills are at a third-grade level. He can’t tell if a cashier gives him correct change after he buys a slice of pizza, his mom says, and it’s unlikely he’ll be able to understand this entire article.”
BBC News just published an article in the last 24 hours talking about Down’s Syndrome being linked to brain protein loss. MedPage Today just published preliminary results from a new brain study regarding the effects of repeated blows to the head.
When you watch the ESPN feature on Garrett and his parents, it’s really well-produced and very honest. Stuart Scott did the intro and outro on Sportscenter. Tom Rinaldi, known in ESPN inner circles as the guy you get to narrate a video to make people cry(ask Mike Greenberg), did the voiceover on the feature. You couldn’t find two bigger names at ESPN who will treat MMA with respect than Stuart Scott & Tom Rinaldi.
When I watched the feature on Sportscenter, I was absolutely conflicted. My heart said that this was a great story. My mind said this story would cause major controversy and that there was trouble on the way. I could sense immediately that the way the story was presented, it would be the feel-good-story-of-the-year reaction on social media. However, I also knew that the internal reaction from those in the business — especially well-regarded regulators — would be sheer horror.
After the Sunday night feature, I made several phone calls to doctors, athletic inspectors, judges, and individuals with medical knowledge who are involved in regulating combat sports. The reaction from the people I contacted was unanimous and swift — they were absolutely terrified. Not one person supported the idea of allowing someone with Down’s Syndrome inside the ring for amateur or pro MMA. One respected athletic inspector said that allowing Garrett Holeve to fight in an MMA bout was exploitative, no matter if the audience cheered and gave Holeve a standing ovation after the fight. The concept of allowing someone with Down’s Syndrome (limited cognitive ability & brain issues) to take punches and get slammed drew a swiftly negative reaction amongst the people I interviewed.
What also drew my attention (and the attention of others) was that the epicenter of this feature was Florida. The fact that Florida’s commission (via the ISKA) allowed this to happen and that any doctor gave clearance for Garrett Holeve to fight. As Garrett’s father, Mitch, noted in the ESPN feature, he’s received negative feedback from people close to him who feel he is putting his son in tremendous danger.
The general public’s reaction to the piece is what I thought it would (touching). The reaction from those inside the business has been largely sour. Should Florida tell the ISKA to stop further sanctioning Garrett Holeve from fighting in the future? If Holeve applies for a professional license to do MMA in Florida, should Cynthia Hefren & Frank Gentile give him a license?
Exit questions: a) Would ESPN have showed the ending to Garrett Holeve’s fight if he got knocked out? b) if Holeve had gotten injured during the fight they aired, would they have spiked the feature because it wasn’t a heartwarming ending?
State auditor admits California’s athletic commission nearly got death penalty… then suggests Che Guevara could take over
By Zach Arnold | March 21, 2013
To read all CSAC-related articles, dating back to May 2012, CLICK HERE.
Since we’ve covered the mess going on with lifer-since-Jimmy-Carter Denise Brown and her Department of Consumer Affairs in relation to how they’ve operated the California State Athletic Commission, one point has been very clear — the commission was in trouble. Real trouble.
Trouble as in getting sunsetted by California’s state senate, which means the California Democratic Party. As in Darrell Steinberg pulling the plug. Today’s headline in the Sacramento Bee says it all:
Let me translate that for you: “If we didn’t hire Andy Foster, we would have shut the commission down.”
Let me also interpret for you what sunsetting would have meant. It would have meant that DCA would be operating California combat sports the way the DBPR operates Florida’s commission. In other words, a train wreck. Nothing would have been fixed. The only difference is that the numbers would have swept under the rug. And you know who would have regulated California combat sports? Che Guevara. Yeah, that guy. He’s still getting paid $60,000 a year to be a paper pusher but he doesn’t have the authority he once had. He’s just cashing a paycheck.
If the Bureau of State Audits was really serious about cleaning house in Sacramento, they would tell the state Legislature to fire Che Guevara’s sorry ass. But they won’t. So, instead, they once again play for the quick media headlines.
From the Sacramento Bee:
The solvency plan commissioners have since adopted assumes a 35-percent cut in costs from the $1.83 million budgeted in 2011-12. It may not be realistic.
“We are concerned that many of the changes the plan outlines may prove impractical and too drastic to sustain over time,” the audit says.
The commission’s operations are so upside-down that it probably lost money regulating some events. It’s hard to know for sure, because inspectors sometimes miscalculated the state’s take or missed some calculations entirely, leaving the commission vulnerable to “human error or fraud,” according to the audit.
Who was in charge of the athletic inspectors who couldn’t calculate a box office? Che Guevara. Remember this article I wrote? Crystal ball — CSAC audit will reveal up to 7-figures $ missing.
You didn’t need a state auditor to state the obvious if you were reading Fight Opinion. The sad part? People in California combat sports had to read this site to get their information on what was really going on as opposed to trusting Sacramento to tell them what was up. That’s pathetic.
The state auditor, in her report (which you can get the link to later in this article), claims that 50% of the inspectors booked for fight events weren’t local and were out-of-region bookings. Guess who was responsible for that? Che Guevara.
Here’s my message to Darrell Steinberg, Lou Correa, and the state Senate’s Business & Professions Committee. Che Guevara should absolutely be terminated — for cause. This is as slam dunk of a case as you can get. If the California Legislature wants to make a statement to the public that they want to clean house at the athletic commission, you fire Che and you do it now. Simple as that. Fire his ass. And do it publicly, too. Not on a Friday document dump. You fire him with the Sacramento press corps paying attention to what you’re doing.
Do you really want to sacrifice political capital protecting that guy? Cut your losses.
Unfortunately, that won’t happen. They also won’t fire Doreathea Johnson, the legal nitwit at DCA that has had her fingers in the proverbial cookie jar when it comes to the mess at DCA. Hell no, they won’t do that. She just got an internal job promotion by Governor Jerry Brown! What a nasty piece of work she is.
Also, I got a problem with Bureau of State Auditor boss Elaine Howle. A real big one.
By Zach Arnold | March 20, 2013
Drug & licensing issues in Florida, Nevada, and California creating total chaos
With everything that is happening in these three states for combat sports, it turns out that most of what is really happening is actually playing out in the media and has gotten out of control for the regulatory bodies in question.
I sat down with Jordan Breen for an interview with Sherdog to talk about what is going on in Florida and how it relates to Texas, Nevada, and California for combat sports. If you are a fight fan and you are wondering why the UFC isn’t hitting Texas or Florida, two states with no income tax, then I would strongly advise you to check out the Sherdog interview. There’s some new information released during the interview.
Next up, we have California. Andy Foster, the new Executive Officer, has his hands full. Dave Meltzer reported that Lavar Johnson failed a drug test for testosterone (anabolic steroids) on the UFC event in late February. California’s commission in the past has always released a statement to the press about failed drug tests. Whether or not California’s commission releases a statement of not for this case, I’m not sure. What will be of interest is if details of a suspension and a fine are revealed. This is the first big test failure for a fighter since the new Executive Officer has taken over the commission. It will be interesting to see how he handles it.
UFC did not leak Johnson drug test story to me. CSAC reported it first.
Also noted in Dave Meltzer’s article is that Riki Fukuda got cut from UFC and he failed a UFC drug test for the Saitama Super Arena show due to banned stimulants. Alex Caceres tested positive for marijuana metabolites. Incredibly, he has been suspended for six months and has been ordered to go to rehab. Marc Ratner is stating that any fighter who tests positive for marijuana metabolites has to go to rehab.
This is insanity. This from a company that created the permissive environment for their fighters on overseas shows to get permission notes to use testosterone. So, testosterone is OK but prior usage of marijuana before a fight happens is not OK. Thanks to UFC running shows all over the country, we have athletic commissions who feel the need to let fighters use testosterone (with a permission note) while also suspending fighters for elevated levels of testosterone if they don’t have a permission slip.
This mess should fall entirely on the UFC. They created it and let the genie out of the bottle. Or, as I crudely stated the other day, they created a situation where you can’t put the shit back in the horse. Just ask Vitor Belfort all about testosterone and his claims that UFC has known what has been going on.
Speaking of awful commissions, Nevada is rightly mocked as one of the dysfunctional commissions in the country — thanks to Keith Kizer. Kizer’s commission fined Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. $900,000 for testing positive for marijuana metabolites. The same commission where Kizer’s friend, Dr. Tim Trainor, gives out permission slips to MMA fighters to use testosterone. This same commission encountered a case today where boxer Mickey Bey failed a drug test due to having an elevated Testosterone/Epi-Testosterone ratio of 30:1. His punishment? A three month suspension and a $1,000 fine. Kevin Iole has every right to feel the way he does.
As a result of Keith Kizer’s actions, he has now found himself targeted by a political advocacy group with some real juice — the Marijuana Policy Project. On Tuesday, MPP set up a billboard in Las Vegas protesting the $900,000 fine that Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was slammed with by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for testing positive for marijuana metabolites in a commission drug test. MPP is now leading the charge with a petition to get the $900,000 fine overturned and to raise awareness against Keith Kizer’s actions.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal has taken notice and a columnist for the newspaper is supportive of MPP’s stance against Kizer. An advocacy group like MPP is the kind of foe that Kizer wants no part of — and him declining an interview with LVRJ backs that up, given that Kizer will talk with anyone in the press as long as they kiss his ass. Once a reporter or interviewer asks any question that isn’t sycophantic (see: Mauro Ranallo), Kizer squirms and freaks out.
Kizer has been the hunter for a while. Now he’s set himself up, through the $900,000 fine to JCC Jr., to be the hunted by some very determined political advocacy groups that aren’t going to back down.
This is the state of affairs right now for state regulation of combat sports. What will it take to change the behavior of the bureaucrats? Target the people involved individually. Go through tax records. Do criminal background checks. Investigate. Flush out the cockroaches. Digging up dirt can have an impact — and my work is proof positive of that (to a degree).
By Zach Arnold | March 18, 2013
By now, you know the story: HBO has elected to sever its relationship with Golden Boy. After watching Golden Boy and shadowy adviser Al Haymon strip the network of several of its top guys (Amir Khan, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Danny Garcia and Andre Berto among others) and move them across the street to rival Showtime, HBO decided it had enough.
You want ‘em, HBO said to Showtime. You got ‘em.
They are putting almost all of their chips in with Bob Arum now and hoping that Main Events, Lou DiBella and Gary Shaw can deliver solid matchups as well.
The announcement marked the crumbling of a once-powerful alliance between HBO Sports and Golden Boy Promotions, a relationship that was weakened when Showtime hired former Golden Boy attorney Stephen Espinoza to run its sports division in November 2011. Showtime now televises Golden Boy Promotions cards almost exclusively, but Broner and Bernard Hopkins were the only high-profile Golden Boy fighters whose fights were still broadcast by HBO.
The tension between HBO and Golden Boy began in late 2011, when former Golden Boy attorney Steven Espinoza replaced Ken Hershman as the Vice President and General Manager of Showtime Sports. Soon after Espinoza’s hire, Golden Boy started doing a voluminous amount of business with Showtime. Hershman is now the current President of HBO Sports.
The turning point in the Golden Boy/HBO relationship took place in September 2012. Golden Boy was looking to do a major card on September 15th with WBC junior middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. HBO refused to give Golden Boy the date. The network would instead reserve the previously mentioned September date for a pay-per-view event, which was headlined by Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Sergio Martinez and promoted by Golden Boy’s main rival, Top Rank.
So, with all of this turmoil, there’s one question that hasn’t really been asked yet about the future of HBO and boxing:
What is in Ken Hershman’s professional background that indicates that he isn’t going to run HBO the same way he ran business at Showtime?
The conventional wisdom is that because HBO is HBO and not Showtime that therefore this will somehow change the way Ken Hershman runs his boxing platform. I don’t see that happening at all. What you got with Ken Hershman at Showtime is what you’re going to see with Ken Hershman at HBO. Those who have dreams that he’s going to change the way he does business are likely going to be disappointed.
It’s like a new promoter bringing in a matchmaker from a different promoter. The matchmaker isn’t going to change their stripes. They’re going to book fights the way they’ve always booked fights.
So, Hershman made his call and will be going with Top Rank, Dan Goossen, Gary Shaw, Lou Dibella, and Main Events. He’s basically taking The Field while Showtime is going with Golden Boy, who has tried to signed everyone under the planet to a contract. What exactly is so surprising about this development and why would anything think that Mr. Hershman is going to behave differently than he has in the past?
The only thing different this time around is that you may not have Don King to kick around any longer.