If Bernard Hopkins’ explanation isn’t satisfactory to the Nevada Athletic Commission today, he figures to be several thousand dollars poorer.
Hopkins is scheduled to meet with the five-member board to clarify why he suddenly snapped at a prefight weigh-in on July 20 and attacked Winky Wright on the stage at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
Hopkins shoved his right hand in Wright’s face moments after each weighed in for their July 21 light heavyweight fight, which Hopkins won by unanimous decision. The shove set off a melee on the crowded stage that involved both camps, even though they were supposed to be limited to one representative per fighter.
The proliferation of such brawls at boxing news conferences and weigh-ins troubles NAC executive director Keith Kizer, and he wants to prevent future blowups.
“We have measures in place,” Kizer said. “We can go as little as zero or as much as $3 million (Hopkins’ entire purse). The commission has that kind of latitude.
“We have organizational meetings before these fights, and we go over the rules regarding the weigh-in. For whatever reason, the rules were ignored. Maybe we need to start holding the promoters accountable, too.”
Though no one was hurt, the spectacle was not good for Nevada. Kizer said if Hopkins was trying to sell a few more tickets with his stunt, perhaps he should have considered a different approach.
“The unprofessionalism bothers me,” said Kizer, who has been with the commission since 1996. “These fighters who think these WWE tactics sell more tickets, I don’t see any proof of that.
“The (negative) publicity doesn’t bother me at all. That’s for the promoter to deal with. My concern is someone getting hurt. What if it’s one of the fighters and the fight has to be canceled? What if it’s someone in the audience who is just there to watch the weigh-in? We could have big problems.”
Kizer said that during the organizational meetings all parties agreed only the ”fighter and one” would be on the stage during the weigh-in.
”I’m weighing Mr. Wright, and I suddenly see all these people onstage and I’m wondering to myself, ‘What’s going on?’ ” Kizer said.
Moments later, he got his answer as Hopkins attacked Wright.
Wright is not facing disciplinary action because he did nothing to instigate the melee.
The last time violence occurred at a weigh-in for a Las Vegas fight was in 2003 when Roy Jones Jr. met John Ortiz at Caesars Palace. The managers, not the fighters, got into it as Alton Merkerson, who was Jones’ manager, decked Norman Stone, who was Ruiz’s manager, after Stone complained about Jones’ gloves.
Merkerson punched Stone in the face, knocking him off the stage. Members of Jones’ entourage then kicked him in the ribs. Stone was taken to Valley Hospital, treated for a broken finger and released.
The commission took no action against either Merkerson or Stone, giving both a verbal warning. That probably won’t be the case today as Hopkins figures to be fined for his actions.
“Fortunately, we haven’t had a lot of these types of incidents,” Kizer said of physical confrontations at weigh-ins. “But the commission does look at these incidents seriously.”