Boxing Law
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CHICAGO – American boxer Timothy Bradley may be nicknamed “Desert Storm,” but it was not Bradley but the judges who whipped up a storm of controversy in his June 9th bout with Filipino boxing icon Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao,

Even if Bradley does not return the welterweight belt to Manny, his razor-thin victory will remain highly questionable as it came as a result of the subjective assessment of the judges.

I don’t blame Bradley if he has no plan of returning Manny’s belt. But Bradley could not take full credit of his victory. And until investigations would show that there was sleight of hand that manipulated the decision, Bradley can keep the belt.

Jennifer M. Lopez, a spokesperson of the Nevada State Attorney Catherine Cortez Masto, would not confirm or deny if a criminal investigation is under way following a written complaint filed by Top Rank executive Bob Arum. The promoter purportedly wanted to find out if there were some kind of “corruption or incompetence” that caused the three judges to give Bradley the slimmest of edge in the fight universally conceded to have been won by Pacquiao.

Because of the magic of television, it was easy for millions of viewers to come with their own opinion on the fight. The narrow split decisions of the two judges and even the decision of the third judge, who favored Manny with a slim margin, were so shocking that a popular clamor to investigate how the decision was arrived at was hard to ignore..

The Nevada State Athletic Commission had asked the three judges to explain how they came up with their respective decisions. There was no indication, though, if the decision would be reversed.

The World Boxing Organization (WBO) based in Puerto Rico, which sanctioned the bout, has stepped into the controversy by ordering a review and re-scoring of the bout.

WBO headed by lawyer Francisco Valcarcel appointed five boxing judges from different states. But it said that reversing the Nevada judges’ decision is off the table.

It only wants to make a case that in the future, state boxing commissions, like NSAC, should also consider the names of judges and referees WBO recommends.

Because the suggestions of WBO and other boxing organizations are mere directory, not mandatory, the U.S. Senate led by Sen. John McCain and Sen. Harry Reid had stepped up to the plate, bringing back to life H.R. 4167 (passed in the 104th U.S. Congress), also known as Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996.

This law, which took effect on Jan. 1, 1997, was passed to (1) to improve and expand the system of safety precautions that protects the welfare of professional boxers; and (2) to assist state boxing commissions to provide proper oversight for professional boxing in the United States.

In S. 3306 they filed last June 18, the two former boxers proposed the creation of a United States Boxing Commission that would administer the enforcement of the Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996.

Under the 1996 law, “No member or employee of a boxing commission, no person who administers or enforces State boxing laws, and no member of the Association of Boxing Commissions may belong to, contract with, or receive any compensation from, any person who sanctions, arranges, or promotes professional boxing matches or who otherwise has a financial interest in an active boxer currently registered with a boxer registry.

“Whenever the Attorney General of the United States has reasonable cause to believe that a person is engaged in a violation of this Act, the Attorney General may bring a civil action in the appropriate district court of the United States, requesting such relief, including a permanent or temporary injunction, restraining order, or other order, against the person, as the Attorney General determines to be necessary to restrain the person from continuing to engage in, sanction, promote, or otherwise participate in a professional boxing match in violation of this Act.

“Any manager, promoter, matchmaker, and licensee who knowingly violates, or coerces or causes any other person to violate, any provision of this Act shall, upon conviction, be imprisoned for not more than one year or fined not more than $20,000, or both.

“Any member or employee of a boxing commission, any person who administers or enforces State boxing laws, and any member of the Association of Boxing Commissions who knowingly violates section 9 of this Act shall, upon conviction, be imprisoned for not more than one year or fined not more than $20,000, or both. And

“Any boxer who knowingly violates any provision of this Act shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than $1,000.”

If the bill of Senators McCain and Reid is passed, the U.S. Boxing Commission (USBC) would likely take away the monopoly of some states with boxing commissions, which sanction major boxing events, as the USBC would be the one to appoint judges and referees to work a fight.

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Joseph is a former reporter of the Manila Bulletin, former president of the Rizal-Metro Manila Reporters Association and former president of the Chicago chapter of the National Press Club of the Philippines. A native of Sorsogon, Philippines, he and his family now live in Chicago. A prolific reporter, Lariosa writes a column and news stories for the Filipino Star News and other Filipino community newspapers in the US as well as for GMA News and the Manila Bulletin.

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