Boxing

A Closer Look at Arum, Top Rank, and Raids

11.01.04 - By Keith Terceira: Lets not all of us go off on a tangent yet about this raid by the FBI. If I remember correctly in June of 1999 Don King's Deerfield Beach, Florida offices were raided and everyone figured his goose was cooked. Instead the fodder for the government turned out to be former IBF President Bob Lee. Don came out of that investigation to continue doing business as usual. Bob Arum got a slap on the wrist by the Nevada Commission paying a $125,000 fine and supposedly $50,000 to a charity that the commission was to create. When you total it up that's about the cost of a cheeseburger to Arum when you compare it to his earnings in the career of De La Hoya. Boxing already has no eyes remaining to blacken and if the cops that are talking are correct and not just spreading disinformation so not to scatter the real targets,then this could wind up being the coup de gras for the sport and what remains of its attraction to fans.

We see a lot of speculation swirling around, even from ESPN experts, concerning a thrown fight by Verdell Smith, alias Tim Brooks, alias Tommy Bowles, a professional opponent that has been in the ring remarkably with the best of boxers in the Middle and welterweights. Verdell sports a 44-84-4 record and just comes off a loss to Clarence Taylor at Arrowhead Pond. If the Paez- Smith rumors are proven true others effected by association could be Dimitriy Salita, Rocky Martinez, Louis Brown and others who were Verdell's opposition. How a fighter with that kind of record gets a fight with Jose Luis Castillo, Julio Diaz, Angel Manfredy and others should be investigated by all the officials in boxing, let alone by the Feds.

Funny that Bones Adams can't get a decent fight but Verdell Smith has boxing's elite and rising stars knocking down doors to get to him. Can anyone say pad my record please. In 2003 alone Verdell mixed it up with Salita, Shuler, Rocky Martinez, Carlos Baldomir, and Louis Brown. Perhaps its just that Mr. Smith has great management in Sean Gibbons who as we all know has had his run in with accusations.

Going back as far as 1997 when Gibbons was investigated by Oklahoma State boxing regulators for running around the mid-west selling some pretty lousy boxers as the real deals under fictitious names . These guys would fight each other and pretty much fall down when touching gloves at the start of fights, alternating wins as they moved arena to arena.

If Gibbons begins to look like part of this investigation due to his management of Verdell Smith and others with similar records then it may taint dozens of top ten contenders and a few champs. Working with Top Rank, Gibbons has been close to many controversial calls in boxing. Do a simple search on your computer to see who and draw your own conclusions.

I have no problem with ESPN investigating and touching on this subject , it just looked ridiculous, them doing it during one of the most disgusting displays of mismatching I have ever seen. Whether they like it or not ESPN looked like a laughing stock when Atlas is reporting on supposedly fixed fights , bad match-ups and Arum, then they have a show filled with some ugliness themselves. Rios who hadn't been in the ring in forever, fell over from a stiff breeze that just so happened to have glanced off the top of his head. One body shot to a 39 year old fighter with less than 10 pro bouts ended another mismatch. Give me a break, ESPN should have shut up and done a Sports Center feature long after the Friday Night fiasco was over if they had to say anything at all. Of course because of ESPN's inability to hire anyone who can remotely ID a poor show prior to the camera crew rolling in, has decided to cut off promoters funding. If I was paying $50,000 dollars and getting that kind of product to televise, I would look to hire someone who could tell this difference between crap and a sky-scraper instead of taking the course they have..

ESPN may have no control over these promoters but they damn well have control over what they broadcast, and any idiot with a computer could have told them just what kind of product they were in store for. Rather than using the fee's to mandate a good product from promoters and adding clauses to the money they pay, they pull the funding screwing the fan. Rather than assist the sport they televise its faults then cry when it loses money for them. I'd would have watched "Hoosiers" for the 50th time or the World Poker Tour instead of what Friday Night Fiasco was showing.

The WBC had better take a stand shortly themselves because it just so happens that after several of Mr. Smiths bouts his opponents suddenly are up for WBC santioned title shots. If those shots were a result of what this investigation alleges, we all know who gets sacrificed if some sleazy dealings were going on, if not perhaps I can get you the number for Mr. Bob Lee. Funny isn't it, that offering a bride to an official gets you big money matches and a slap on the wrist. Arum was accused by Oscar of swindling De la Hoya out of 14 million in just one bout. The fine and consequences for Arum, after admitting he was part of unlawful activity and paying bribes to Lee was 1.25% of what he profited in that one match alone. The WBC, the Nevada State Commission, and every other organization related to boxing had better wake up and start taking drastic steps soon to clean up something besides just the appearance of this sport, even at the expense of its own officials and its own image or think about buying some pencils and a tin can while they can afford it.

The legal fall-out of this investigation could trigger lawsuits by tens of thousands who lost money on the matches that are proven to be fixed and any fight connected to these guys become suspect. It could not only begin lawsuits against promoters and boxers but even against the venues that held them and took any bets from fans. I for one would support any suit brought by fans of this sport who have been taking it in the groin for to many years.

One of the first things these bodies can do is mandate that any fighter fighting for a title must have at least fought a few contenders for that title. Not just tomato cans building phoney undefeated records sucking in support until it attracts enough money from gamblers and building a fan base to sell out events. If something isn't done soon all the organizations might as well add entertainment to their names and stop the gambling on the sport. Vegas bookmakers must be sweating bullets about now. Any more guys falling over from shots a minute or two after being hit and riots could erupt in arena's around the world if you can find enough fans left to fill them.

As Arum takes a hit in the press boxing's other big cheese Don King has his own problems circulating. King who just put on Atlantic City's biggest bout in years has suddenly decided that he wants to withdraw his application for a license to put fights on in Jersey Casinos. Perhaps the Feds should investigate how come it took two years for Jersey officials to get around to asking King questions pertaining to Bob Lee.

I for one would have sat the man down, day one, when he made out the application and said Mr. King here's the rules in order to get a license you have to be of clean character so explain to us about your dealings with Lee. The second King wavered in answering he should have been denied a license. According to the laws for the Casino board an applicant for license must cooperate or be excluded. What the hell were officials in the Garden State doing during the Senate hearings, fishing off Belmar for Bonita and Blues. It took over 18 months for them to get around to King's license application or was it more than that.

Remember, as Arum tells the world that Top Rank has done nothing wrong that Arum is famous for another quote in his last brush with the Feds "Yesterday I was lying. Today I am telling the truth."

Article posted on 11.01.2004



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