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When 3 minutes isn’t 2: Fact/fiction on California chaos with Martha Salazar vs. Sonya Lamonakis & CSAC officials

By Zach Arnold | April 17, 2013

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To read all CSAC-related articles, dating back to May 2012, CLICK HERE.

With the UFC coming to town (San Jose) on Saturday for their Fox broadcast card, you would think the atmosphere would be cheery and that the energy would be positive on the ground in the state. The show will have over 10,000 fans at HP Pavilion and the UFC runs a tight operation. They make the job of the regulators rather easy and painless.

The problem in California is when you talk about all the shows outside of the UFC banner that happen in the state. That is when you hear about various problems from show to show. It is the local circuit right now where you find out how sour the mood is amongst many officials (judges, referees, inspectors, timekeepers). The tension is really thick, the anger is palpable, and the frustration is breeding all kinds of paranoia. I’m not suggesting that this is 100% justified, but it is the reality on the ground right now.

I received messages over the weekend from top sources (on the ground) saying that fighters at various shows throughout the state were voicing their displeasure about Fallon Fox getting licensed and about the quality of regulation in California. A heavy majority of male MMA fighters think that transgenders should not be licensed to fight in women’s MMA. In boxing circles, those who are reluctant to accept MMA as a sport are now labeling MMA as a circus show because of Fallon Fox being allowed to fight women.

None of what was said was uplifting, to say the least. Amongst a majority of officials & fighters in the local scene, there’s a mixture of depression and anger about how a scene like California’s could be so messed up. There are constantly little (proverbial) fires that need to be doused with cold water. And, yet, often times many of these fires go unchecked and the state’s credibility in terms of regulating fights gets flushed down the crapper.

When it comes to fight regulation, one mistake can put a fighter in serious jeopardy of having their health & safety at risk due to neglect from officials who aren’t doing their job right. A possible example of this happened last weekend in Sacramento, California for a local show. The event, promoted under the banner of On-Point Promotions, was called the Bash & Bike Show II. Basically, a mixture of amateur boxing & kickboxing fights along with some pro-boxing fights & a motorcycle show. The man behind On-Point Promotions is named Osric Pratt. The card took place at the Lions Gate Convention Center in Sacramento, California. OPP marketed an online stream of the fight for $11. The online stream was reportedly blocked for purchase for anyone within a 250 mile radius of Sacramento… which means not a lot of people in California, Nevada, or Oregon could watch the live stream if they wanted to pay for it.

On April 22nd, the California State Athletic Commission will have a meeting in Los Angeles and one of the agenda items is whether or not to grant OPP Promotions a permanent license. This would indicate that On-Point Promotions ran their event this past weekend on a temporary promoter’s license.

Also on the CSAC 4/22 agenda is discussion regarding the creation of an officials evaluation policy & inspector evaluation policy. New York female boxer Sonya Lamonakis might want to voice her opinion on this matter. She was booked against 43 year old veteran Martha Salazar on the Sacramento OPP card. Salazar is making a come back after a multi-year layoff.

That’s where the controversy begins.

The Recorder newspaper in Greenfield, Massachusetts caught up with Sonya after her fight.

Claim #1: False promises. Lamonakis claims that she was promised (by On-Point Promotions) that someone would pick her up at the airport and take her to a hotel room. There was no driver at the airport and Lamonakis claims there was no hotel room.

As far as the commission goes, none of these claims should impact how the commission views the promoters… unless the promises were made in the bout contract and signed off on. My guess is the accommodations were not listed on the bout agreement.

Claim #2: Rules violation for weigh-ins. When she showed up for weigh-ins last Friday, the day before her fight, her opponent (Martha Salazar) allegedly was a no-show. Lamonakis claims that Salazar was allowed to do a same-day weigh-in of the show. So, what does state law indicate?

According to the California Code of Regulations, Section 297:

297. Contestants shall be weighed within 24 hours of the scheduled match, at a time and place designated by the commission, in the presence of a commission representative on scales approved by the commission. A club may obtain advance written permission of the commission to allow preliminary boxers to weigh in and be examined not later than one hour before the scheduled time of the first match on the card. All weights shall be taken with the contestants stripped.

Note: Authority cited: Section 18611, Business and Professions Code. Reference: Sections 18640 and 18728, Business and Professions Code.

In this case, club/promoter are interchangeable terms. I could understand if the out-of-state fighter was a last-minute replacement and had to have arrangements made for such a short time span. However, the fighter in question here who allegedly benefited from a same-day weigh-in was the local fighter.

As far as whether or not permission was granted ahead of time for the same-day weigh-in, it is believed that permission was granted on this front. It’s not a common occurrence, but if you have a situation where a fight getting canceled can wreck a card…

Claim #3: There was no supervision for the hand wrap process and Sonya Lamonakis wasn’t drug tested.. Sonya claims that nobody, none of the inspectors or officials booked for the show, watched the fighters do their hand wraps. In other words, anything and everything could have happened. It’s possible, given that we have written about inspectors having major problems detecting skinned gloves, illegal hand-wraps, and gloves of the wrong size for fighters in different weight-classes. There are way too many officials currently in California who have absolutely no clue how to inspect hand wraps for boxers or MMA fighters. Of course, this stems largely from the fact that the man in charge of the athletic inspectors, Che Guevara, got his job promotion after he missed Antonio Margarito’s illegal hand wraps at the Staples Center in 2009. Che, with the assistance of Attorney General office lawyer Karen Chappelle, destroyed the reputations and careers of two very good men — Dean Lohuis and Mike Bray — by perjuring himself at the disciplinary hearing for Margarito that resulted in suspension.

In a twist of irony, Che Guevara was originally scheduled to be the lead inspector for this Sacramento event. However, he was switched to an amateur kickboxing show in Fresno at the last minute and Nichole Bowles, who used to work in the front office of the athletic commission, worked as the lead inspector for the OPP event.

Here’s Sonya in her own words:

”There was two inspectors for the whole show, never watched us wrap, or her, never checked my wraps, or hers, we had what I believe were amatuer adidas gloves that were horrible, then three minute rounds that was never discussed. So you tell me, would you want it overturned also ? You’re damn right I DO..and it will be…it was illegal…three minutes rounds have to be discussed and negotiated for more money.”- said the clearly upset Lamonakis.

There were more than two inspectors for the show. The bare minimum is three on smaller shows and generally the rule of thumb is anywhere from four-to-six inspectors since Andy Foster has taken over. You can never have enough good eyes watching over the proceedings, but there were more than two inspectors booked for that show.

As for the claim that she wasn’t drug tested… on the smaller shows, it’s random drug testing. Not everyone is drug tested. I’m not suggesting that it’s a good or bad development. It’s the economic reality on the ground right now for a commission that’s trying to live within their means. It’s a balance between money and ensuring the health & safety of the fighters.

Claim #4: The lead inspector and timekeeper screwed up on how many minutes per round the women should fight. As for the fight between Sonya Lamonakis and Martha Salazar, the 43-year old Salazar won a unanimous decision. The referee for the bout was Ed Collantes. The judges for the bout were Dan Stell, Susan Thomas-Gitlin, and Bruce Rasmussen. They did their job right. So, there shouldn’t be any problems, right? Wrong.

As it turns out, one of Sonya’s teammates was watching the live stream feed of the OPP Sacramento show online and noticed that the rounds were being timed by the timekeeper in 3 minute increments as opposed to 2 minute increments. The teammate texted Sonya’s trainer, Marcos Suarez, and told him what was going on with the 3 minute rounds. When we asked for a name of the timekeeper in question, two sources indicated the name Dan Collins.

On Boxrec, Martha Salazar’s win still stands. However, according to Sonya, she is protesting the situation and is asking for a no contest. The power for reversing this decision lies with Andy Foster and the commission body. Since we know that OPP streamed video of the show on the Internet, it’s pretty easy to assume that there will be video evidence to look at to determine whether or not timekeeper Dan Collins screwed up.

According to the California Code of Regulations, section 368, here’s the code on changing a match decision.

§ 368. Change of Decision.

(a) A decision rendered at the termination of any boxing contest is final and shall not be changed unless following the rendition of a decision the commission determines that any one of the following occurred:

(1) There was collusion affecting the result of any contest;

(2) The compilation of the scorecard of the judges, and the referee when used as a judge, shows an error which would mean that the decision was given to the wrong boxer;

(3) There was a violation of the laws or rules and regulations governing boxing which affected the result of any contest.

(4) The winner of a bout tested positive immediately after the bout for a substance listed in Rule 303(c).

(b) A petition to change a decision shall be in writing and filed by a boxer or the boxer’s manager within five (5) calendar days from the date the decision was rendered.

(c) If a petition to change a decision is not filed in writing within five (5) days of the decision, the commission may, upon the vote of at least a majority of the commissioners present, hold a hearing to change the decision at any time.

(d) If the commission determines that any of the above occurred with regards to any contest then the decision rendered shall be changed as the commission may direct.

Note: Authority cited: Section 18611, Business and Professions Code. Reference: Section 18640, Business and Professions Code.

The Recorder quoted Sonya Lamonakis as saying, “It was a big mess. The whole thing was crazy,” she explained. “I’m disappointed in the unprofessionalism by the California State Athletic Commission. I’m still upset that it went down that way.” When a fighter says that the New York State Athletic Commission is doing a better job than you are in terms of regulating a fight, you know you are in trouble. Unfortunately for New York’s sake, it’s false. As troubling as some aspects of the situation are currently in California, California’s problems come nowhere near the level of turmoil in the state of New York or Florida. I can say that with confidence — and evidence, too.

New York’s commission is the same regulatory body that drew the wrath of the Association of Boxing Commissions last year for allowing under-age and over-the-age-of-40 fighters to compete and allowing fighters who are under drug or medical suspensions in New Jersey to fight in New York without penalty. Some of the medical suspensions dealt with Hepatitis C and failed echocardiograms.

And given all of that, Sonya Lamonakis thinks that fighting in New York is safer than California.

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, Media, Zach Arnold | 10 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

10 Responses to “When 3 minutes isn’t 2: Fact/fiction on California chaos with Martha Salazar vs. Sonya Lamonakis & CSAC officials”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    Who cares what boxers say about MMA.

    Whatever was left of female boxing is going to get wrecked when those females jump over to MMA for better pay.

    The UFC handles the commissions without problems. This is why a serious minor league circuit it needed for the younger fighters to compete without all of the promoter headaches….

    • Alan Conceicao says:

      lol what are you talking about? Reflexively against boxing?

      • 45 Huddle says:

        Holly Holm is moving over to MMA….. She is just the beginning.

        There is no avenue for females in boxing right now.

        Which means many of the girls who are either in boxing or would think about boxing are now much more likely to go to MMA now.

        • Alan Conceicao says:

          No boxers said anything about MMA in anything linked to this article or in the article Zach wrote. It is Zach talking about CSAC and using the example of a women’s boxing match to describe inadequacies in their practices.

  2. Chris says:

    Absolute nonsense.

  3. Alan Conceicao says:

    The weight thing is semi-irrelevant: Sonya is a HW. Saw her on Broadway boxing many times. Round length would be though and so long as that’s true it will probably be changed.

  4. 45 Huddle says:

    Miesha Tate is saying she never wants Kim Winslow to ref her fights again.

    When the female fighters are even bashing her…. You know it is time for that woman to find a new job. She is horrible.

  5. RST says:

    It seems like the chicks who are best at chickMMA are never very attractive.

    Carano was mostly better at being delectably juicier.

    I still dont see the appeal to it.

  6. blanca gutierrez says:

    Martha Salazar won with a 60-54 on every card. Fight wasn’t even close. Sonya was also ranked #1 in the world, an active fighter. Lamonakis and Salazar fought 6 rounds. Martha Salazar defied the odds by coming back at 43 years old after a six year lay off and out classed, out boxed and out skilled the number one ranked Lamonakis. This timer should be fired and this is the commissions error not the boxers. Why take the phenomenal win away from the boxer who scored a shut out? Salazar put the work, time and sacrifice in to prove to the world that she is number one and she did.

  7. […] City fight. Six months ago, Nichole Bowles was the lead inspector for an OPP show in Sacramento in which Martha Salazar & Sonya Lamonakis fought in a six-rounder. The problem? Instead of two minute rounds, they ended up fighting in three minute […]

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