By Paul Magno | January 12, 2024

Well, we’re several days into what could’ve been a sport-rattling story of dubious ethics and regulatory chaos. And-- surprise, surprise-- we’re no closer to getting to the bottom of that mess than when the controversy first flared up. 

On Sunday, word hit the online Universo Pugilistico that Tony Weeks, the guy at the center of another “he stopped the fight too soon” controversy in Vergil Ortiz’s first-round stoppage of overmatched Fredrick Lawson Saturday night in Vegas, had gone public with an explanation of his actions.

Writing via (unverified) Facebook page (in a since-deleted post), the veteran referee said this:

“What the public didn't know that prior to the fight they did a brain scan on him, and it came up that he had an aneurysm, and they did a test again, and the same aneurysm came up. Another doctor was brought in and gave him the same examination and he tested negative for the aneurysm, so they cleared him to fight.”

And, while social media erupted with a collective “huh?,” boxing media collectively shrugged their shoulders and instinctively blamed Weeks for “throwing the commission/promotion under the bus.”

Golden Boy, who promoted that DAZN night of mismatches capped off by the worst one, issued the following response via social media (oddly enough, using the “spooky” filter on their photo editor):

“Fredrick Lawson was cleared by a Nevada State Athletic Commission sanctioned doctor to fight on Saturday night. All other questions should be referred to NSAC.”

Shortly after that, the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) chimed in.

An e-mail from the commission to media read: 

"On January 6, 2024, a contest was held between Vergil Ortiz and Fredrick Lawson in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Contest was under the jurisdiction of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The health and safety of the unarmed combatants that compete in the State are paramount to the Commission. All contestants in the event were subject to full medical examinations and were cleared by medical experts to compete without restrictions. The Commission and its Executive Director will continue its ongoing practice of reviewing its official’s performance during and after an event."

Well, that settles it. Obviously. Hardly a word has been spoken by media since. There were a couple of anonymous statements from “sources” who said Lawson got medical clearance to fight, but that was never really the issue. Of course he was cleared to fight, eventually.There’s a lot that still needs to be sorted out. Or, at least, discussed...somewhat...maybe? 

The commission groupies and promotional company boot-lickers have jumped to the defense of “their”   side. Weeks was clearly lying, trying to save his job. There’s no way a fighter could fail a brain exam and still be allowed to fight! 

However, there IS a pretty traceable history of commissions and promotions working hard to circumvent failed tests to “save” an event. At one time, Edwin Valero, for example, had failed multiple brain exams-- until he found the “right” doctor in the “right” commission. Journeyman Lanardo Tyner, who failed an EEG (electroencephalography), also found a quick path back to the ring when he got to the “right” doctor giving the “right” exams.

There are many other cases of this kind of shoddy, dangerous, and unethical behavior, but they’re harder to find in the present tense because the mainstream media has abandoned boxing and, well, look who we have covering the sport now-- the BOXING media.

Golden Boy, given Vergil Ortiz’s long and recent run of frustrating canceled fights, would’ve been extremely (and aggressively) eager to NOT have another last-minute Ortiz fight cancellation. The NSAC, given Golden Boy’s recent vow to bring more fights to Las Vegas, could also have been extremely eager to appease the promotion by keeping the Ortiz fight alive.

None of this is to say that Golden Boy or the NSAC are guilty of any wrongdoing. The possibility, though, IS worth looking into. It’s worth looking into, just as much as the questions surrounding Weeks are worth looking into. For instance, why was Weeks made aware of such test results and, then, why did he choose to go along with officiating a fight that he clearly felt could be headed towards tragedy? The decision to ref a bout he was determined to stop early was going to be a lose-lose for everyone, including the fans.

The one sure thing in all of this, however, was that Fredrick Lawson-- a career welterweight with failing punch resistance and skills/ability that made him a guaranteed human sacrifice to a bursting-at-the-seams prospect/monster-- never belonged in the ring with Vergil Ortiz Jr.

Just a day earlier, with an obvious Ortiz-Lawson mismatch looming, a fawning boxing media yucked it up with Golden Boy founder and figurehead Oscar De La Hoya, sipping on champagne (or was it wine?) as they were given a tour of De La Hoya’s new Las Vegas mansion. Nobody uttered a critical word. The day was all happiness, sunshine, and “look at me in a mansion” posts on social media. THAT’S our boxing media.

“We want to make 2024 a special year,” De la Hoya told the happy-tailed reporters gathered before him. “We appreciate everything that you guys do and I know you guys appreciate everything we do and, so, we want to make this a family….Boxing IS a family...and we’re just getting started.”

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