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Notes and Nuggets from Thomas Hauser

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  • Notes and Nuggets from Thomas Hauser

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    By Thomas Hauser

    Do you think it would be fun to be a ring announcer?

    If you don't like waiting in airports, taking dozens of flights a year, and living out of hotel rooms, think again.

    David Diamante lives in New York City. This was his travel itinerary for 2022:

    New York - Atlanta - New York

    New York - San Diego - New York

    New York - London - Nottingham - London - New York

    New York - Manchester - Leeds - Manchester - Barcelona - Ibiza - Marseille - Barcelona - Manchester - Milan - Verbania - Milan - New York

    New York - Las Vegas - New York

    New York - Milan - Florence - London - Bilbao - London - New York

    New York - London - Cardiff - London - Houston - Guadalajara - New York

    New York - San Antonio - New York

    New York - London - New York

    New York - London - Sheffield - London - New York

    New York - Saudi Arabia (Jeddah) - Qatar (Doha) - New York

    New York - Mexico City - Sonora - Mexico City - New York

    New York- Las Vegas - New York

    New York - London - Nottingham - London - Mexico City - New York

    New York - London - New York

    New York - Mexico City - New York

    New York- London - New York

    New York - Abu Dhabi - New York

    New York - Cleveland - New York

    New York - London - New York

    New York - Phoenix - New York

    New York - London - Leeds - London –

    So . . . what does Diamante do with his time off?

    Among other things, he goes to fights. Four days before Christmas, he was at Sony Hall in Times Square where Larry Goldberg was promoting a club fight show.

    In the opening bout, Alejandro Luis Silva (19-0-1, 14 KOs) squared off against Issah Samir (19-1, 16 KOs, 1 KO by) in an 8-round middleweight contest. The fighters' records were deceiving. Samir is 38 years old. It has been forty months since his hand was raised in victory. Silva dropped him with a body shot in round one, and Issah showed no interest in getting up.

    That was followed by Anthony Sims Jr. (22-1, 20 KOs) vs. Anthony Todd (14-6, 8 KOs, 2 KOs by) - eight rounds, middleweights. Sims won an 80-72, 80-72, 79-73 decision in a fight that was evocative of a sparring session.

    Next up; female junior-bantamweights, Sulem Urbina (13-2-1, 2 KOs) vs. Indeya Smith (5-6-2, 1 KO). Smith has little form and less power. But she kept moving forward, throwing punches. And Urbina didn't know how to deal with her. Smith won a 79-73, 79-73, 77-75 decision.

    Bout number four showcased club fights at their best. Nadim Salloum (9-1, 4 KOs) took on Decarlo Perez (19-6-1, 6 KOs, 3 KOs by) in an eight-round super-middleweight bout.

    "The skill level might not be high," Diamante noted. "But it's a real fight, a lot of action with two tough guys giving it everything they have. I love fights like this."

    Then things turned sour.

    Perez won the fight. At least, that's how it appeared to most knowledgeable observers at ringside. But the New York State Athletic Commission is known for erratic scoring that often favors the house fighter. And Salloum (a prolific ticket seller) was the house fighter. Judge John McKaie's scorecard was read first - a 76-76 draw. Then the other two judges were heard from - a gift-wrapped 78-74 (Tony Lundy) and 77-75 (Marcel Varela) for Salloum. Perez got a lump of coal for Christmas.

    The final bout showcased flyweight Andy Dominguez (8-0, 6 KOs) against Marvin Solano (24-7, 8 KOs, 2 KOs by). Dominguez has charisma and is a legitimate prospect. But he didn't go to the body often enough and missed badly with wild right hands throughout the fight en route to a 78-73, 78-73, 76-75 triumph.

    "Andy can afford to be wild with an opponent like this," Diamante observed. "But not when he moves up in class and fights better fighters."

    And how did David feel about the evening?

    "I love club shows," Diamante offered. "Fighters leave the amateurs and this is where the next leg of their journey begins. The headgear comes off. The lights get brighter. The gloves get smaller. For me, club shows like this are the heart and soul of boxing. And I love the vibe. It's rare for me now to be at a show where I'm not working. But on a night like tonight, I can relax, schmooze with boxing people, and hang out with friends. This is all love for me. Hats off to Larry Goldberg for promoting this show.

    * * *

    In an October 21 article posted on this site, I criticized a decision by the Nevada Athletic Commission to categorize slap fighting as unarmed combat that will be allowed when conducted pursuant to rules and regulations promulgated by the State of Nevada and overseen by the commission. A critique of slap fighting is contained in that article.

    On November 16, the NAC granted a license to Power Slap to promote slap fighting in Nevada. Also on November 16, the commission approved rules for slap fighting that appear to have been written by Power Slap.

    These rules provide for weight classes for men and women. A competitor can win by knockout, technical knockout, or a decision (rendered by three judges). Fights will be scheduled for three-to-five rounds with a round consisting of one blow to the head inflicted by each competitor. Each round will be scored on a 10-point must system with points being determined by the striker’s effectiveness, the defender’s reaction, and the recovery time needed after taking a hit. Fouls can be called on strikers for clubbing, stepping, illegal wind-up, and delay. Strikers will be required to state in advance which hand they will be using and how long it will take for the slap to be delivered. A striker will be penalized if he deviates from this declaration. Fouls will be called against recipients of blows to the head for flinching, blocking, or delay. Penalties can result in a warning, points deduction, ordering a re-strike, the loss of a strike, or disqualification. The striker will have thirty seconds to deliver each slap. The recipient will have thirty seconds for recovery. A coin toss will determine who throws the first slap.

    Striking first is an advantage because it weakens the opponent. But if first strikes are rotated, it will mean that combatants are hit with back-to-back blows to the head against which there is no defense. And these blows will be delivered while the effects of the previous blow are still being felt.

    There's a lot to criticize in the commission process. But the low point at the November 16 meeting came when NAC chairman Stephen Cloobeck asked UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell (one of the primary owners of Power Slap), “You will make sure no one dies?”

    “That is priority 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10,” Campbell responded. “That goes without saying."

    “You will make sure that no one has severe brain injuries going forward?” Cloobeck said in the manner of a pitcher lobbing a slow pitch down the middle of the plate.

    “That’s correct,” Campbell answered. “Honestly, one of the reasons we tested this was to really understand firsthand in person the health and safety aspect of the sport."

    That's utter nonsense. No one can guarantee that a combat sport participant won't be killed or suffer brain damage as a consequence of fighting. Either Cloobeck knows that or he knows virtually nothing about the industry that he's charged with overseeing other than the fact that people hit each other in the head and he gets free tickets for the fights.

    I might add here that it would be interesting to see Power Slap's contracts with combatants. An educated guess is that, despite Campbell's assurances to the commission, Power Slap's contracts require combatants to acknowledge the risk of severe injury (including brain damage) and death as a consequence of participating in Power Slap events and further require combatants to waive any claim they might have against Power Slap for damages re same.

    Power Slap plans to air eight shows on TBS starting in January, hoping to give its new league the same sort of boost that The Ultimate Fighter on Spike gave UFC. The outtakes from the TBS show are more likely to be more revealing with regard to medical issues than the footage that the public and regulators are allowed to see. Do we really expect that, if Slap League or the commission doctors bungle a medical call, the public will be told about it?

    It takes a while for chronic brain damage to manifest itself in fighters. But if a Power Slap competitor goes into a coma after being battered with multiple head blows that he was forbidden by the rules to defend against, maybe even NAC chairman Stephen Cloobeck will take notice of it.

    Thomas Hauser's email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His most recent book – In the Inner Sanctum: Behind the Scenes at Big Fights – was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. In 2019, Hauser was selected for boxing's highest honor - induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
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