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A HEAVY problem - Canadian boxers issue ultimatum about overweight Contender opponents

Published:Saturday | June 2, 2018 | 12:00 AMRachid Parchment
Team Jamaica's Fabian Tucker (left) and Team Canada's Tariq Ismail trade blows during their first round Wray and Nephew Contender Series bout at the Chinese Benevolent Association Auditorium on Wednesday night. Tucker came into the bout 14 pounds overweight.
Leroy Brown

Team Canada promoter Tyler Buxton says his boxers have told him that if their opponents fail to make weight for their quarter-final bouts in the Wray and Nephew Contender Series, they will not agree to compete.

The competition is being contested at the welterweight division this season, which means that boxers must be no heavier than 147lb to compete for the title. However, so far this season, a number of boxers have been overweight, which can give them the advantage of having heavier punches.

"I've had a couple of guys say they're not fighting certain guys if they're overweight," Buxton told The Sunday Gleaner. "I'm not going to name them, but that's what it was. That's what the team's attitude is going into the second round because of the number of guys not making weight in the first round and the penalty only being US$100 (around J$12,600)."

Last season, should a boxer fail to make weight, he would lose his entire match earnings for the bout, but the rules have been relaxed this season and boxers now lose only a fraction of their match purse, regardless of how overweight they are. Buxton says this is unfair as boxers will have less reason to meet their weight obligation. Instead, they could choose to compete overweight, pay the smaller fine, and look to move on to the next round, where they will compete and make another earning, ultimately going after the $2 million prize for winning the tournament.

Jamaica Boxing Board of Control general secretary Leroy Brown explained the reason for the rule change. Buxton said that the fine is 20 per cent of the boxer's nightly earning, but Brown disputes this.

"Last year, there was one boxer it happened to, and in retrospect, it was seen as too draconian," Brown said. "What it meant is that he would have fought for nothing and this didn't make sense to us. He had agreed to this and signed a contract to this effect, so he didn't really have a case. But it was examined, and the norm internationally is a maximum of roughly one third of your purse, or around 35 per cent. What we instituted this year is that if you are overweight, you lose a third of your purse."

The boxer was Tsetsi 'Lights Out' Davis, who lost his match earnings after facing Dave Leblond. He then said that he would not compete this year and carried through on this promise.

Buxton said that he was not happy about the change as he and his boxers only learnt about it during the competition.

"We were under the understanding that it's the same as last year, and then Leroy Brown, with the board, changed it," he said. "I can be overweight every week, and as long as I make weight the last week, all I've lost is US$400 (around J$50,000), and I've just won J$2 million? It seems like a very good game plan if I was coaching a fighter."

He mentioned a number of fighters who failed to make weight heading into their first-round matches this season. These are Team Jamaica's Nico Yeyo, who defeated Canada's Mayron Zeferino; Fabian Tucker, who was 14lb overweight when he lost to Canada's Tariq Ismail last Wednesday; Jamaica's Michael 'Wasp' Gardener and Canada's Jason Kelly, who faced each other.

"It's a massive advantage and I know Jason Kelly was trying to make weight, and then he found out that the penalty was only US$100, so he didn't care," Buxton shared. "He told Wasp, 'Don't worry about it. I'm not going to make weight, so you don't need to make weight'. What's the point in having a contract to make weight if the guys are not going to stick to it, and there's no reason to make weight?

"Did it work for Nico Yeyo, where you have a guy like Mayron, who's diabetic, cutting weight trying to make weight, and you have Yeyo, who doesn't try to make weight? Who's the stronger guy coming in if one guy's trying to cut weight and the other guy's not trying to? The problem is that it's going to get to the point where fighters are not going to agree to the fight. They'll say, 'I don't want the US$100 because it's not worth me losing to the bigger guy'."

But Brown said that the rules would be strictly enforced in the upcoming rounds.

"I'm really disturbed at what is happening because there are a few of the boxers who are excessively overweight," he said. "What should happen when you're that overweight is that the fight is cancelled. In a situation like The Contender, it would be difficult to just cancel the fight the day before because it will wreck the show. But now we're going to be more exacting where the weight is concerned, and we're putting into play certain international rules. We're being more precise now. The situation is we're going into the title section of the competition. Between the promoters and the board, we've decided we're going to strictly enforce the weight situation.