Boxing judge aside, NAC has other problems to address

Veteran boxing judge C.J. Ross went from under fire to under the bus this week following her controversial call in Saturday’s Mayweather-Alvarez fight. The experienced Nevada judge agreed to step aside.

Nevada Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer, the man most responsible for putting Ross at ringside, this week called criticism of her unjustified and part of a “mob mentality.”

He’s partly right. Ross is merely a symptom of a greater issue at the Nevada Athletic Commission: a leadership and judgment problem that starts with Kizer.

Proving he’s no NAC troubleshooter, Kizer essentially called pre-fight questions about the use of Ross a nonissue. Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Times reported Kizer wisecracking before the Mayweather fight that reporters only raised the issue out of a fear that, if they didn’t, promoter Bob Arum wouldn’t credential them for the next Pacquiao bout.

Not only was Kizer’s remark politically tone deaf, given the obvious controversy surrounding his decision to push for Ross, but I hear it also incensed Arum.

Ross is gone, but the issue won’t be as easily forgotten.

“And I’ll tell you what; we’re gonna fix it,” NAC Chairman Bill Brady said in an interview earlier this week. “It’s going to be fixed. I can guarantee that.”

An active contributor to Republican campaigns, businessman Brady has been around politics a long time. He appears to appreciate that a lot of people are watching to see what Nevada does next.

NORTON RECALLED: Former heavyweight champ Kenny Norton died this week in Henderson after a long fight with heart disease and other maladies. He was a gentleman outside the ring but a mauler once he split the ropes.

Former boxer and longtime casino dealer Gary Bates remembers. Back in July 1969 at the San Diego Coliseum, Norton broke Bates’ jaw on the way to winning an eighth-round TKO.

SONGBIRD, JAILBIRD: Now she’s a free bird. Songstress Pia Zadora was ordered to undergo booze and impulse control counseling this past week as part of her settlement of a domestic abuse dust-up with her teenage son.

The incident brings to mind another time the generally amiable Zadora let her emotions get the better of her. It was back when she was married to former Riviera owner Meshulam Riklis. The Riviera was the site of many championship fights, including the 1985 title bout between heavyweight Larry Holmes and Michael Spinks.

With Zadora and Riklis sitting ringside, the referee warned one of the fighters, and the crowd reacted. A hot dog was launched into the ring — by Zadora.

Hall of Fame Las Vegas sports writer Royce Feour picks it up from there:

“(Then NAC Chairman Duane) Ford went over to Zadora, and I could see he was scolding her. Ford said he told Zadora, who was standing up and yelling, ‘You can’t throw things in the ring. You do it again, and we’ll have security take you out.’ She was embarrassed at first. (Then) she laughed, Ford said.

“I remember thinking to myself at the time, ‘She is married to the owner of the hotel. What are they going to do to her?’ ”

Zadora recently agreed to perform at Piero’s restaurant, where they have no hot dogs on the menu.

For more great Feour stuff, go to www.roycefeour.com.

ON THE BOULEVARD: Sources say FBI agents were busy this week interviewing potential witnesses in their ongoing investigation of the Las Vegas Housing Authority. … Other FBI agents recently served subpoenas in the ongoing civil rights investigation at Family Court.

BOULEVARD II: It’s time to break out the foustanella and tsarouhia, or at least your favorite “It’s All Greek to Me” T-shirt, in anticipation of the 41st annual Greek Food Festival, sponsored by St. John Greek Orthodox Church Sept. 27-29 at 5300 S. El Camino Road, at the corner of Jones and Hacienda. For information, call 221-8245.

Have an item for Bard of the Boulevard? Email comments and contributions to jsmith@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0295.