President Tim Lueckenhoff on Boxing, Pacquiao, Clottey, Mayweather, Mosley, Margarito, Arum, Drug Testing for Steroids and Much More! By David Tyler, DoghouseBoxing (Feb 25, 2010)
Let’s welcome the President of the American Boxing Commissions into the doghouse. David Tyler Hi Tim, let’s start by explaining to the readers how the American Boxing Commissions was formed.
Tim Lueckenhoff The ABC started almost 26 years ago when a few states got together; Nevada, Texas, New York, Montana, and decided that they needed to start sharing information about boxing. Actually Indiana was one of the original states because the treasurer at that time was footing the bill with his credit card. So these states got together and started sharing information about their fighters, suspensions, medical records, and it just grew from that point forward. When the first Federal boxing bill was passed prior to that time, ABC had already developed unified rules for boxing and had a national suspension list that was handled by the state of Florida. When the Federal bill was passed in 1996 it outlined that the ABC had certain responsibilities to set up guidelines to work with state athletic commissions to uniformly regulate boxing. Again, it started with just a few states and grew to where now every state that has an athletic commission is currently a member.
DT Tim, the power of your organization is strictly in the United States only?
TL That is correct. We have no control outside the country. If a fighter fights in Germany and gets knocked out, a lot of times there is no medical suspension reported for that boxer. When the information comes to the ABC as required by Federal law, we give them the minimum suspension which is 30 days for a TKO and 60 days for a KO.
DT If a fighter is suspended in Germany, would the ABC honor that suspension here in the United States?
TL Yes we would. If it is a medical suspension we would honor that suspension. An administrative suspension would have to be judged by viewing the content and facts of the suspension. Certainly if it’s medical then we would certainly honor that suspension. I don’t believe any athletic commission is willing to license a fighter and take on the liability of a medical suspension.
DT So if the impossible were to happen, Sir King Arthur Abraham was knocked out and suspended in Germany, then the State of Nevada could not overrule the ABC and grant a license to this great fighter until his suspension from Germany is completed?
TL They could overrule our suspension. Keep in mind that the ABC has no enforcement power; we are basically a toothless tiger. We have a Federal mandate but we lack enforcement powers. Our enforcements come from our involvement with issues promoters and organizations that disagree with us, and they continue to act independently of Federal law, then we take our case to the media. A good example is the Margarito suspension. We had to go to the media to place pressure on Bob Arum and the State of Texas to do the right thing.
DT Let’s discuss that situation. Antonio “hands of plaster” Margarito was suspended by the State of California for a period of one year. I have been under the impression that all other states would honor that suspension. Is that correct?
TL You are correct. Let’s keep in mind that he was revoked then it goes back to what the California law specifies. The California law says that once your license expires, any discipline on that license goes away. The courts in Nevada have ruled in the Joe Mesi case with the same results. Mesi was on indefinite suspension in the State of Nevada from a prior brain injury. Once his license expired in Nevada, the judge ruled that since he was not licensed in Nevada then they have no power to suspend him. So in the Margarito situation, his license expired recently in California and anybody is free at this point to license Margarito. What the ABC was trying to tell its members was yes you can license him but don’t just let him apply and automatically give him a license to fight. Make him come in and give testimony about what happened and plead his case that he has reformed. As boxing fans are aware, there was discussion that he would be on the undercard of the next Pacquiao fight in Texas. This state has not taken any action on the application that I know of and the fight is March 13th.
DT Tim, one more time. Because Margarito was suspended by the State of California only for a period of one year, he is suspended in every state for this one year period?
TL Technically yes. The Federal law says a couple of things about administrative suspensions. If it involves an unsportsmanlike act, then yes he is suspended in every state. If the suspension was not for medical or unsportsmanlike behavior, then he could go to another state and apply for a license. That state then must report to the state that suspended him that they have issued him a license. When the Federal law was changed in 1998, the Muhammad Ali boxing reform act, it added the unsportsmanlike conduct phrase that stated if a fighter was suspended for an unsportsmanlike act, then every state must follow that suspension.
DT Tim, we are all aware that Margarito was suspended for having plaster of paris under his boxing hand wrappings prior to his fight with Shane Mosley. Additionally, the Los Angeles Times has presented compelling video evidence that supports the fact that he was wearing his plaster of paris cast under his hand wrappings during his fight with Miguel Cotto. This seems to me like a very serious violation of the rules. Did the ABC recommend only a one year suspension or was that strictly the decision of the California Athletic Commission?
TL No the ABC would not recommend a specific timeline. It doesn’t have the proper authority to enforce the recommendation. We got involved in this particular case by informing Texas not to go through the motions and just issue him a license. We went one step further and said he should not be issued a license period. We felt that this was so egregious a violation of the rules that this fighter and his trainer should not be issued a license. David, the problem with the Federal law is that they simply said that the ABC should have regulatory guidelines that everyone should follow but if they don’t, then nothing happens. That’s the problem with the Federal law; it doesn’t provide the ABC with any enforcement power. The law does not go the extra step and say you have to or must follow the guidelines set forth by the ABC.
DT That’s too bad because boxing needs a central organization to establish the rules, regulations, certify judges, qualify referees, protect the fighters with medical issues, and takes away the power of the greedy promoters, managers, and trainers that benefit from the illegal activities of their boxers.
TL I agree it would solve a lot of the issues that we encounter. Just this week I got some results from a state concerning a boxer who has a record of 2 19 and at one point he was 0 17, it just doesn’t make sense that a guy who has lost 17 in a row should be fighting.
DT I know you are a boxing fan, I would like to get your opinion about two upcoming pay per view events. First, let’s discuss the Pacquiao/ Clottey fight scheduled for March 13th somewhere deep in the heart of Texas.
TL Joshua Clottey has fought here in my state of Missouri. He is a very nice gentlemen but he doesn’t have the skills to make this a fight. He is just not in Pacquaio’s class with speed and power. This surely will not be a very entertaining fight.
DT Tim, the mention of Pacquiao brings to mind testing fighters for performance enhancing drugs. What is the position of your organization about complete blood and urine testing for performance enhancing drugs?
TL I don’t think any fighter should fear drug testing. If they are not doing anything wrong then why would they fear drug testing? I certainly would not have a problem if my state implemented more rigid drug testing that included steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. I may be a little harsh on this issue but that’s the way I feel. The other issue with drug testing is I believe that all fighters should be subjected to this type testing, not just for big events. The problem is that the testing is expensive and cost prohibitive for the fighters that are not involved in the big million dollar events. It’s kind of like instant replay in boxing; it is only available in certain states for certain fights, which is not a fair system because everybody doesn’t get to use the system.
DT Tim, let’s go to Mayweather Jr. vs. Shane Mosley. I would like to say that I am very happy that this fight is taking place. It’s a good thing for boxing that both participants have agreed to Olympic style steroid testing. Boxing usually does the wrong thing but this time they got it right! For the first time in who knows how long, the fans will know that both fighters are clean when they enter the ring. I will get off my soap box and ask you how you see the fight going?
TL I see Mayweather knocking out Mosley. Mayweather’s hand speed is superior to anybody in the sport. Shane has not fought in over a year and he is 38 years old. Mosley is a good person, I just think that he is on the downhill side of his career.
DT I see it that way also. The Shane Mosley of ten years ago might have given him a tough fight but he will get tired of chasing Mayweather around the ring. He will also be eating jabs and right hands all night long.
TL The speed of Mayweather is just amazing. I have not seen Mayweather fight but I have talked to some people who have judged his fight and others who have been at his fights and they all say that you can’t imagine how quick he is with both hands. Mayweather’s last fight was with Marquez and I talked with a friend who was at ringside for that fight. He was telling me that Mayweather was hitting Marquez and at the same time he was looking over at Mosley and shouting at him while hitting Marquez. It amazes me that he would have that kind of ability.
DT Tim, how do you feel about the overall health of boxing today?
TL In the position that I fill with the ABC I review the number of annual boxing events here in America and Canada. I have information I can send to you about the trending over the last ten years. The numbers are going down year by year. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is coming along strong and has found an audience with the younger crowd. Boxing has not found a way to appeal to a larger audience. I don’t think boxing is dying but it is not in very good shape at this point. When I started about 15 years ago we had several good fighters who came from Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and they could fight with anybody every day of the week. Sure they lost some fights but they could hold their own with any class of fighter and I just don’t see that in today’s group of boxers. Many young fighters will fight once or twice and they are out of boxing and that must change for the sport to be successful. I don’t know if it’s a marketing issue for promoters but we have to get more kids involved with the sport at the amateur level. I don’t know how that going to work with all the video games and other distractions that today’s kids have in their lives. There is many other activities for kids than get in a gym and work hard. It’s unfortunate but I think the sport is declining in health and has dropped way off from when I started 15 years ago.
DT Tim, I couldn’t agree with you more. Another issue is the Pacquiao factor. He alone has over one hundred million fans that are not boxing fans but Manny Pacquiao fans. What will happen to the sport when he retires to pursue his dream of becoming President of the Philippines? PPV sales will certainly take a big hit. The only mega event out there today is a Mayweather/ Pacquiao fight but that simply won’t happen. The sport today only has one true skilled fighter and that’s Floyd Mayweather Jr. It’s difficult to understand how we have entered an era of boxing with a couple of thousand sluggers and only one true boxer.
DT Tim, I appreciate the time for this interview and you especially for discussing boxing with me. Every true boxing fan wants a central organization of the sport. Good luck to you and the ABC and continue to fight the good fight for boxing.
TL Thank you and I will send you the information about fights in the United States and Canada.
Readers: Tim e-mailed me the information but the one statistic that stands out is that in 2009, there were a total of 710 boxing events. MMA events during 2009 were 2150. Quite simply put, there are three times as many MMA events as boxing events and the numbers are declining in boxing every year. In the 1920’s in the States of New York and California alone, there were over 4,000 boxing events held annually.
***David Tyler replies to all his e-mails and loves to hear from the readers. Comments, Questions, Suggestions, E-mail David now at:firstname.lastname@example.org