Promoter discusses WBC's Ontario ban
Shawn W. Smith
The news dropped like a bomb across the Canadian boxing scene when the World Boxing Commission (WBC) announced it would no longer be sanctioning fights in the Canadian province of Ontario after evidence from a recent bout suggested that the province's handling of fighters was dangerous.
While the news is frustrating for local promoters looking to build world title contenders, Lee Baxter of Lee Baxter Management said he "supports the WBC's decision, especially with what has happened in the last few weeks”.
"I think everyone needs to take the sport a lot more seriously," Baxter told Boxing Monthly. "These issues are swept under the rug like it's a small, tiny little industry; people don't think it's worth going through all the hoops."
On 12 April, Mexican-born boxer Guillermo Herrera suffered a ruptured blood vessel in his brain during a bout against Shakeel Phinn at the Shaw Boxing Festival. With the fight stopped in the eighth round, Herrera went back to his corner before falling to the mat unconscious. Reports suggest that Herrera spent five to 10 minutes unconscious on the mat before a doctor arrived at ringside.
Frustrations with the Ontario Athletic Commission are nothing new. Rules are in place that limit hand wraps to 10 yards of gauze (most commissions have no limit and those that do are closer to 40 yards). As well, the Ontario Athletic Commission is one of the last commissions to require same day weigh-ins, often leading to dangerous weight cutting protocols.
"I think what scares me the most is that the WBC is a powerful influencer and it worries me that other sanctioning bodies might jump on the same bandwagon," Baxter said.
Samuel Vargas (pictured), ranked eighth by the WBA, is a Toronto-based fighter. Baxter said that he had his eyes on a title eliminator in Toronto and that this could "massively complicate things”.
"Fortunately, the WBA has not decided to ban sanctioning in Ontario, but that could change overnight," Baxter said. "It's hard to play your cards when you don't know what they are."
Baxter has an event scheduled for Fredricton, New Brunswick and said working with the commission there has been "a breath of fresh air, as opposed to working with the Province of Ontario where things are a lot more complicated”.
Despite this, Baxter said he is not opposed to all of the Ontario Athletic Commission's policies.
"I think there's good and bad with everything, I don't think you're going to find a commissioner who is going to work with you on everything you need," Baxter said, adding that most of the issues with the commission are not a big problem.
"The hand wraps and same day weigh-ins are obvious issues that need to change," Baxter said. "The timelines, financial guarantees and medicals don't do anything but help the sport."
Image courtesy of www.leebaxtermgt.com