Regulating The Sweet Science
Former US presidential candidate and current Arizona senator John McCain is proposing, along with Nevada senator Harry Reid, a bill to create a United States Boxing Commission (USBC). It seems that the recent Pacquiao-Bradley scoring travesty is the event that spurred the bipartisan political duo into action. It is evident that Reid (Democrat), as a Nevadan, has a major interest in the sport given that every time a boxing superstar stages a fight in Las Vegas, the local economy enjoys a brief, yet substantial, boom. John McCain’s interest stems from the fact that he’s been a fan of the sweet science for a long time. He even dabbled in the sport back when he was part of the US Naval Academy, “posting a painfully undistinguished record”, as per the Senator’s own words.
When introducing the bill in the senate floor, John McCain (who in the past has tried to get a posthumous presidential pardon for Jack Johnson) cited the Pac-Bradley incident not as the specific reason for introducing the bill, but as the latest, grandest manifestation of the enduring mix of corruption and incompetence that has been an integral part of the sport throughout its existence. And just to cite another recent and shameful example, look no further than last week’s Chávez Jr. vs. Lee fight, in which the defending champ’s camp refused to have his gloves weighed before the fight, and in which bizarre circumstances surrounded “The Son of the Legend” the moment he was required to submit a urine sample for a “mandatory” drug test.
As per the bill, the ‘USBC’ would not manage directly the state boxing commissions of the United States, but would act as a “super” commission, in a way. It would set the standards by which all the rest of the commissions would have to abide, it would enforce such standards, and would be responsible for licensing boxers, managers, and boxing organizations.
The USBC would act, therefore, as a mechanism to standardize the sport throughout the United States. It would make all state commissions follow the same rules, and would introduce penalties for those who deviate from them. One would also hope that it would constantly evaluate current practice in order to make adjustments and corrections when needed. This way, for example, if the USBC found out that introducing instant replay between rounds for referees to judge whether a cut was caused by a headbutt or by a punch would be beneficial to the sport (as common sense dictates it would), it would make instant replay mandatory practice under all state jurisdictions.
The creation of such an organization seems to be a step in the right direction. It would address the issue of variation in the performance of judges and referees, by submitting all of them to the same criteria for becoming licensed. The USBC would act as a centralized boxing organization that would, ideally, be less tied to regional interests or only a handful of promoters, since it would be funded by contributions from all of those involved in the sport throughout the country. It would have more freedom to pursue investigations when need arose, and wouldn’t be so timid about punishing those who don’t play by the rules.
This is an interesting development in the sport, but it will have to fight its way through the tangle of vested interests of those currently running the sport—not to mention the sense of indifference most US taxpayers feel towards the sweet science, as evidenced by the comments of those who read the piece at Politico. But for those of us who follow the sport despite of its flaws, it does offer a faint glimmer of hope.
“This legislation would establish the United States Boxing Commission (‘USBC’ or Commission), providing the much-needed oversight to ensure integrity within the profession through better reporting and disclosure, requiring that the sport avoid the conflicts of interest which cause fans to question the outcome of bouts which hurts the sport.” –John McCain
–Rafael García Quiñones