Mayweather vs Pacquiao Update: An Interview with NSAC’s Keith Kizer

  • October 10th, 2011
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by Hans Olson

This topic needs no introduction.

Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

That’s all you need to know.

Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Honestly…it’s getting impossible to tell. Both Floyd and Manny have passionate fan bases who rally for their guy, neglecting key arguments from the other side. I spoke with the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s Executive Director, Keith Kizer today. Keith has seen a few failed negotiations in his time, but this one takes the cake. Let’s try to get to the bottom of it.

Thanks again to Keith for taking the time to speak with Boxing Insider for this exclusive interview.

Boxinginsider.com: First off, what is the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s stance as far as Olympic-Style drug testing? Are you in favor of it, or are you against it?

Keith Kizer: “I would say anything that can help us legitimately catch somebody using a performance enhancing drug, we’d be in favor of.”

Boxinginsider.com: Now the main thing that many point to is the cost of such testing. Is pricing an issue going forward, as far as who would pay for it?

Keith Kizer: “You’d have to ask the people that pay for it I guess. We wouldn’t pay for that. We don’t have the budget to pay for that. You’d have to ask—I don’t know who they plan to bill for that—you’d have to ask that person.”

Boxinginsider.com: What is the budget like as far as the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s testing?

Keith Kizer: “Fight night during tests we’ll make the promoter pay for that because obviously that’s their event so they have to pay for those drug tests. That can be anywhere from maybe $1,000 to $3,000 approximately, depending on how many fighters there are, and what kind of tests we do. But those are urine tests obviously. We also do “out of competition” drug testing. So we did Mayweather and Ortiz for their fight in September. We tested them about a month out, and for those tests, we pay for them.”

Boxinginsider.com: Now, did the Nevada State Athletic Commission have any kind of relationship during the last few Mayweather fights with USADA and their involvement, or was everything completely separate?

Keith Kizer: “We talked with them. We met with them, tried to develop some sort of relationship with them where they can help us, give us ideas, share ideas with us and vice versa. Pat Lundell and I actually met with then-chairman and now commissioner Travis Tygart and Dr. Larry Bowers about 18 months ago, maybe a little less than that. I thought it was a very beneficial meeting for both of us. They shared some ideas with us, and how they thought we could improve our drug testing. Some of those things we’ve already implemented, some we plan to implement when we’re allowed to do so by state law. We also shared with them some ideas, some things that we do that we think they can do better and they kind of agreed to that but said “look, unfortunately our hands are tied by WADA.” For example, the first violation being a two-year suspension. That’s kind of counter productive, and in some cases unfair. They kind of admitted to that but said “unfortunately, WADA—we have to accept. That’s their rules, it’s an all or nothing thing with WADA. You can’t pick or choose which of their rules you want to follow and still be WADA certified.” We understand that. There are certain things we can’t change that we’d love to change but we can’t change because of state law or federal law or something along those lines. But for the most part it was a pretty beneficial meeting for both sides and we looked forward to continue to do that. And we still do. Unfortunately, then Mr. Tygart goes off on a tangent, goes out there and starts bashing everybody publicly—I guess to try to raise his own stock. I don’t think that helped anybody unfortunately. We still want to work with them in an advisory role type situation if possible. If he called me today, I’d definitely take the call.”

Boxinginsider.com: Now, without a conflict of interest—because I don’t know how much you can say personally about the matter—but as far as what a lot of fans say about the negotiations between Mayweather/Pacquiao….you know “Is Mayweather right, or is Pacquiao right?” As far as negotiations, I know that’s not your job, you’re not promoting, you’re not trying to put the fight together…

Keith Kizer: “Right, exactly…”

Boxinginsider.com: That being said, when people say “the commission needs to step up, the commission needs to do something here”…what is your response to that?

Keith Kizer: “Yeah, you know we try to be as helpful as we can within our limited role. At the end of the day the fighters both have to agree to the fight or it’s not going to happen. They got very, very close to doing it about 18 months ago or so. I think everybody thought it was going to happen…I think in May of 2010, and then all the sudden this drug testing demand came aboard even though Mr. Mayweather had just fought Mr. Marquez without any sort of additional drug testing. So that kind of threw a monkey wrench in everything. It just seems to be a sticking point. I can see both side’s point of view on that. It’s not uncommon in negotiations for one fighter to make demands on another fighter to play mind games or to get an upper hand. It’s also not uncommon for the other fighter to push back on that. I was surprised that a lot of that stuff was done by the Mayweather camp publicly instead of making the negotiations as you normally would. You rarely hear about negotiations being done publicly for a fight, so it was kind of strange. I think it kind of backfired on everybody involved. But then of course the fight didn’t happen and here we are 18 months later and the fight still hasn’t happened. So that’s a private negotiation situation between the two camps and their promoters, and there’s nothing for us to step to one way or the other. We already made it quite clear that if they want to do additional drug testing as Mr. Mayweather has with Mr. Mosley and Mr. Ortiz, they’re free to do that as long as they don’t get in our way. Our drug testing is the primary drug testing. It’s the principal drug testing for the fight, but if they want to do additional drug testing they can. I’ll give you an analogy. We do the weigh-in’s of course. The weigh-in, whatever we weigh the fighters at the day before, that’s the weight for the fight. As long as they make the weight they’re free to fight. If they’re a little over there may be a fine involved of course, but the fight can continue. In some situations, there’s a second day weigh-in. The IBF always does a second day weigh-in for title fights. But there’s also been other fights where the camps will contractually say “look, in addition to this, neither fighter can weigh more than a certain amount of weight the next day.” That’s completely a private situation either between the camps, or between the camps and the sanctioning body and we don’t get involved. If you make the weight 24 hours or so before the fight when we weigh them…they make the weight, they’re good to go the next day. If they have some kind of side agreement that “hey, one guy weighs too much more the next day,” or the IBF says “look you weigh too much more Saturday morning, so now it’s no longer a title fight, it’s just a 12 round special event,”—that’s fine. That’s between the camps and the sanctioning bodies involved, or just between the camps. So I see this as no different than that. I know that Richard Shaefer and Bob Arum back in early 2010 had said “look, can we just petition the commission and see if they’ll be willing to do additional testing on our dime? I want to present that to them because we want everything auspicious of the athletic commission.” I said “definitely.” Any promoter can petition the commission for anything. It doesn’t mean they’ll say yes or they’ll say no. So they both had agreed to that. I guess Mr. Pacquiao had agreed to that but Mr. Mayweather said no, he wasn’t going to do that. And that’s fine, I take no offense at that. I don’t think anyone should. So if they had done that—of course it would have to have been a joint-petition—if they had done a joint-petition to the commission for additional drug testing where they’d cover the cost so we wouldn’t have any budget issues, we would have been happy to do that. We’re still happy to do that. Again, my understanding is Golden Boy, Top Rank, and Pacquiao were in agreement to do that, but Mr. Mayweather decided not to do that, and that’s his right.”

Boxinginsider.com: Now why would Mayweather have not wanted that? Is it because he wanted strict USADA testing?

Keith Kizer: “I don’t know if he wanted USADA involved or he wanted to spearhead it himself and not be a joint situation, a joint spearhead. Again, neither of those things are necessarily a bad thing.”

Boxinginsider.com: Now, you know what public perception is. You have people saying two things. You have people saying “Pacquiao is definitely on something. It could be HGH, it could be whatever…Pacquiao is on something and that’s why he doesn’t want to take the test.” Then people are saying “Floyd Mayweather simply doesn’t want to fight Pacquiao. This is just something he’s throwing out there to avoid the fight.” How realistic do you think those statements are, or how much of it is just sensationalism on both sides?

Keith Kizer: Again, it’s not uncommon for fighters on both sides to play public mind-games, or private mind-games with their opponent before a fight, or in negotiation. So, I don’t think that’s really anything out of the ordinary. I think it’s just the fact that it’s such a mega-fight. Usually it’s about the purse-split, or it’s about the weight, or who gets in the ring first you know? So it’s very rare to have a situation like this. Again, I don’t think there’s any sort of bad faith on either side from my point of view. Whether there is from their point of view is something between them, and I’m not going to pick sides in that regard. I know Manny has agreed to certain tests. Whether that’s sufficient enough to satisfy Floyd I don’t think so, but who’s right and who’s wrong is not for me to decide. And I’m not sure it’s for anyone to decide other than the two fighters. At the end of the day, if these two guys don’t want to fight each other, then they shouldn’t. That’s the bottom line. They’re making plenty of money fighting other guys, doing quite well, and good for them. I don’t think myself or anyone else should require a fighter to fight another fighter if he doesn’t want to.

Boxinginsider.com: Was it ever put in writing from Pacquiao, or was anything put on record that he was willing to take certain tests?

Keith Kizer: I don’t know. There was never any kind of joint-petition from the fighters to us. So if there was anything like that, you’d have to ask Top Rank and Golden Boy.

Boxinginsider.com: People are always talking about wanting a National Commission in the United States; States working together. Do you think if we had a National Commission that could oversee a lot of these issues, we would be more apt to have Olympic Style drug testing? Maybe not even USADA or WADA, but something that would be similar to that, where you guys wouldn’t have to implement things like those 2-year bans just to be certified under their WADA banner…

Keith Kizer: A National Commission I don’t think has anything to do with it. We already have a situation, a Federal law where if a person is suspended in one state or one jurisdiction for failing a drug test, the other states have to recognize it. So we kind of already have that reciprocity which is probably the biggest aspect of it all. As far as the drug testing goes, obviously the fight night tests are always going to be in the place where the fight is, because that’s where the fighters are going to be fighting. As far as the out of company drug tests that we’ve done including the ones we did on Mr. Mayweather and Mr. Ortiz, as well as some other fighters already since we got the money back mid-year…sometimes they’ve been in Nevada, sometimes they’ve been in other states. In fact, we did “out of competition” surprise testing on Pacquiao and Mayweather back near the end of 2009. We thought they were going to fight in the spring of 2010, and Pacquiao did his in the Philippines and Mayweather did his in Nevada. Even across the ocean, we’re able to do it. So there’s no issue there. It’s a little tougher than if we had people stationed all around the world that could go knock on a door, but you can work around that. That’s not a big problem. So yeah, a National Commission wouldn’t have any effect one way or the other, positive or negative on a situation like this. Again, if the fighters want to fight each other, they’ll find a way to do so. If they’re happy making millions, and millions, and millions, and millions of dollars fighting other people, I don’t think we should necessarily feel sorry for them. I think we should be happy for them.

Boxinginsider.com: The final question, is a question that my editor just emailed me, that somebody wrote in to the site. It’s from a gentleman named Robert Naughton. Basically what his letter says is—this is about the Mayweather/Ortiz fight, and the ending of the fight. He wrote:

Dear Mr. Boxing Insider,
Here is the official rules when a referee calls for a “TIME-OUT”!! I don’t understand why Keith Kizer or most of the Espn sports writers didn’t notice Joe Cortez asking for a “Time-out” then never getting the “Time-in” first with the official time-keeper before telling both fighters to “Lets Go” He then realizes this at the worse possible moment in the fight turning his head and eyes off of both fighters and leans into the neutral corner and clearly says “Did you get the time in” HUH! WTF!? I put an asterisk next to every blatant mistake I saw with these eyes. You can’t hesitate or take your eyes off of both fighters calling in the “TIME”? Nor can you ask for time “IN” Late after realizing you never got the time “IN” with the official timekeeper. And if you do forget, you have to brake the fighters apart and get the time in! I know That Time was officially out with the time keeper as that first left Sunday Punch from Floyd Mayweather came. That was a shady fight! I think it should be a no contest due to the lack of Judgement by Joe Cortez’s officiating. Rules are posted and Time Must be in first before asking the fighters to let’s go? If anything The Procedural rules of boxing “Trumps” the spirit of the rule “Protect yourself at all times” And Keith Kizer should no that the officiating was the reason for this outcome.

Thank you for you time.
Robert Naughton

An efficient manner in calling a temporary stop is to:

* Secure a safe distance and assume a squared position to the boxers.
Command in a loud firm voice, “Time!”
* Assure that the boxers are completely apart.
Attend to the issue at hand.
* Call time back in.
A continued infringement of the rules may require a strong admonishment of a boxer even if a point deduction is not in order. This should be done as soon as possible after an obvious harmful foul has occurred.
An efficient manner in calling a temporary stop is to:
* Secure a safe distance and assume a squared position to the boxers.
Command in a loud firm voice, “Time!”
* Assure that the boxers are completely apart.
* Stand in front of the offending boxer, without turning your back on the other boxer, and advise him of the foul.
* Assure that the offending boxer understood the admonishment and that both are separated and ready to continue.
* Call time back in.
*This should not be done in a condescending manner or with excessive emotion that could be construed as a lack of self-control or partiality. This action should be done firmly, clearly and quickly.

Keith Kizer: All I can tell you is, I was at the fight…I had no problem with how the fight ended. The only problem I had with the fight was somebody head-butting another person intentionally in the 4th round, and I have a big problem that, and I still have a big problem with that. That’s a shame there are people out there trying to make excuses for Mr. Ortiz‘ behavior.

Boxinginsider.com: I agree. I was there and I feel exactly the same.

Keith Kizer: It was shocking! And I’m just sitting there, and I couldn’t believe I saw it. It’s crazy, and if you look at the reply when Joe says “let’s go,” puts his hands together…you know HBO called and said “Keith, we re-started our clock, we understood time was in.” The timekeeper re-started his clock, in fact it was about three seconds after Joe re-started the fight that the punch was thrown. 3 whole seconds! It wasn’t like thrown immediately afterward. The fighters went, they squared off, they touched gloves, Floyd starts to put his hands up to start the fight again, Victor continues to walk toward Floyd and hugs him for I think a third time, and then he steps back and keeps his hands down. Well Floyd’s hands are clearly up. If you’re looking at a fighter, he’s got his hands clearly up, the referee says lets go…the time is re-started…I don’t know why you wouldn’t think you could get punched in the face. Especially after you just head-butted the guy. Not only should you think you should get punched in the face, you should realize you’re gonna get punched in the face because you just head-butted the other guy. So I’m very disappointed with Mr. Ortiz. I’m hoping he can learn from this and go forward. There’s definitely no blame to go on Mr. Mayweather’s shoulders.

Boxinginsider.com: That said, you know it’s not a question of ethics, it’s a question of the rules, and what the rules are. Tying that back in…ethically as far as drug testing goes…fans, and everybody in general want the sport to be as clean as possible, and they’d like these potential future negotiations to go as smooth as possible. From the personal opinion of you, not of with the Commission…do you think this fight will ever happen?

Keith Kizer: Well I keep thinking every time after every fight these guys have, the next fight, they’ll fight each other. You know, I’ve thought that since the end of 2009. I know a lot of people say, “well, if it hasn’t happened by now, what can change?” I understand that viewpoint. I understand that pessimism. There are only two guys that can give the final go-ahead on this, and one’s name is Manny Pacquiao, and the other’s name is Floyd Mayweather. It’s completely up to them, and it should be. Again, as I’ve said many times in this interview… it should be up to them, and only up to them. And if they can make it work, good for them. If they can’t…I’m sure they’ll be just fine fighting other worthy opponents.

Boxing Insider’s Hans Olson can be reached at hanswilliamolson@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @hansolson

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