Usually, a mismatch of a fight can go unnoticed in a small town such as Fallon.
But ESPN had its cameras at the Churchill County Fairgrounds on Aug. 8 and televised the professional debut of Zhang Zhilei, the Olympic heavyweight from China who took on journeyman Curtis Tate.
The fight lasted 17 seconds. Zhilei threw three punches, one that hit Tate in the face and two that hit his left shoulder, the second of which sent Tate to the canvas.
The fight then was stopped by referee Jay Nady, and Zhilei left the ring without breaking a sweat.
Since, the bout has been ridiculed from coast to coast. ESPN’s announcers even said it was a farce.
How could the Nevada Athletic Commission approve such a fight?
Tate, a 30-year-old from Oakland, Tenn., had won his past three fights and was 7-4 with six knockouts entering the Zhilei bout. But he hadn’t fought in more than a year, and all four of his losses were in the first three rounds.
NAC executive director Bob Bennett did not attend the fight, but said he has watched it and was disappointed with what he saw. But he said he had vetted Tate before approving him to fight, and that Nady handled the situation correctly. (Ringside physicians confirmed Tate had suffered a concussion from the first blow.)
Bennett said he and promoter Terry Lane of Let’s Get It On Promotions had a conversation before he approved Tate for the fight. Bennett had turned down Lane’s first two choices — Matt McKinney (0-0-1) and Thomas Jones (2-2).
“I said to Terry, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’ when he gave me the first two names,” Bennett said. “There’s no way I could approve those guys. We looked at Tate’s record, and I watched some of his fights on YouTube, and we thought he was competitive enough to fight, even though he hadn’t fought in a year, which was a concern of mine. But Terry Lane told me he had five fights fall out on him, and he had been in the gym training the entire time, so that’s why we approved him.
“Ultimately, I have to accept responsibility for this because I was the one who approved Tate. But I take responsibility for every fight I approve, not just this one.”
Nady said he knew Tate was in trouble after the first two punches.
“The first one was the one that did the damage,” the referee said. “The second one, the one that hit him in the shoulder, that punch sounded like a car crash. I knew (Tate) was hurt, and he had that look that told me he couldn’t continue. He was in no shape to be able to defend himself, and that’s why I stopped it.”
■ MAYWEATHER UNDERCARD — Four undercard fights were announced Thursday to support the Sept. 13 welterweight title rematch between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Marcos Maidana at the MGM Grand Garden.
In the 12-round co-main event, Leo Santa Cruz, the World Boxing Council super bantamweight champion, will defend his title against Manuel Roman.
In another 12-round title fight, Miguel Vasquez, the International Boxing Federation lightweight champ, will meet Las Vegas’ Mickey Bey.
Also on the undercard, junior middleweight Alfredo Angulo will meet James De La Rosa, and welterweight John Molina Jr. will face Humberto Soto. Both fights are scheduled for 10 rounds.
All five fights will be televised on Showtime pay per view.
■ PALMS CARD — Mayweather Promotions, recently licensed in Nevada, will host its first Las Vegas card Aug. 30 at the Palms, with junior middleweight contender J’Leon Love meeting Rogelino Medina in the 10-round main event.
Also on the card, super middleweight Badou Jack will meet Jason Escalera, middleweight Chris Pearson will face Steve Martinez, and super middleweight Ronald Gavril will fight Thomas Falowo.
All four fights will be televised on Showtime. Tickets, priced at $25, $50, $75 and $100, are on sale at the Palms.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.