By Ivan G. Goldman
The consistently terrible New York Athletic Commission left a trail of new blunders Saturday night in Madison Square Garden as Gennady Golovkin destroyed yet another opponent, stopping brave, outgunned Daniel Geale in the third round.
Geale, as if he didn’t have enough to contend with, was tripped by a photographer’s camera strap in the corner during the first round and landed on his butt. It was the kind of freak occurrence that can cause a fight-ending injury. The commission was supposed to assign an inspector to that corner to prevent just such an occurrence. If there was an inspector, he or she should be suspended if not fired. The careless photographer should be excluded from working matches in the state for at least six months.
Oh, and did I mention that the first round lasted not three but four minutes? The timekeeper, also employed by the commission, is aided by a timepiece, but alas, the timekeeper must be able to read the timepiece and act on the data. There were plenty of other commission functionaries around who might have corrected the error but didn’t. Next time, instead of using its in-house dodos, the commission might do better asking fans to step in and perform these chores.
Earlier this year the governor appointed lawyer David Berlin as the new executive director of the commission. He inherited a bubbling cauldron of ineptitude. The smell of the commission’s bloated, puss-infested bureaucracy has been overpowering for decades. Ring deaths and crippling injuries don’t seem to make much difference as New York fails again and again to perform its Number One mission – to keep fighters safe.
The very same week Berlin was appointed, the family of brain-damaged Russian heavyweight Magomed “Mago” Abdusalamov filed a lawsuit against several individuals in connection with the terrible brain injuries he suffered when he was beaten into a coma by Mike Perez Nov. 2, 2013, also in MSG. The statutes that created the commission make it immune from lawsuits. Also named in the suit was K-2 Promotions (Perez lost a split decision to Bryant Jennings in the bout leading up to WBA middleweight titlist Golovkin’s victory over Geale).
Mago’s face was about as broken, busted, and bloody as I’ve ever seen a fighter’s face. Going out there for the tenth round he looked like he’d gone fifteen rounds with Apollo Creed and was subsequently hit by a cement truck. He clearly was no longer responding alertly or adequately to the terror that was being rained down upon him in what could have been the fight of the year if someone had been smart enough to stop it.
But inspectors, doctors, and commission dignitaries stood around with their thumbs up their anuses throughout Mago’s ordeal. No one even called him an ambulance. He rode to the hospital in a taxi, stopping for red lights. Doctors performed emergency surgery to deal with his swelling, bleeding brain but said it’s unlikely he’ll walk, talk, or lead a normal life.
These are the kinds of events that occur when incompetent people hire other incompetent people to handle life-or-death tasks. Under the wrong circumstances a four-minute round or debris sitting on the ring apron can kill a guy. If no one is punished for these transgressions, that’s a pretty clear signal about what has or hasn’t changed on the commission. But replacing dead meat with other dead meat clearly won’t do the job either. If these guys can’t find talented people in New York they’re morons.
It’s probably too early in his tenure to blame Berlin for Saturday night’s stupidities, but whatever he’s done so far clearly hasn’t been enough. Teddy Atlas has vouched for Berlin, and let’s hope he’s right.
New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman’s Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag was released in 2013 by Potomac Books. Watch for The Debtor Class: A Novel from Permanent Press in spring, 2015. More Information Here