NAC ruling touches off controversy over gloves

Promoter Bob Arum won what amounted to a split decision last week when the Nevada Athletic Commission amended a rule that required fighters above 135 pounds to use 10-ounce boxing gloves.

The rule, which had been in place since Sept. 21, 2006, was changed to allow fighters at the junior welterweight and welterweight levels to wear 8-ounce gloves provided both fighters agree. Otherwise, 10-ounce gloves will be used.

Arum, the president of Top Rank, was pushing for a permanent return to 8-ounce gloves in order to bring the July 26 welterweight showdown between WBA champion Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito to Las Vegas.

Negotiations to stage the fight at the MGM Grand Garden are ongoing, but Arum said the new legislation could cause more problems for promoters.

"It’s going to open a whole can of worms," Arum said after the commission ruled 4-0 in favor of the rule change. "Does it solve the Cotto-vs.-Margarito issue? Yes. But there are going to be other fights where one guy is going to want to wear 8-ounce gloves and the other guy is going to want 10 ounces. It’s going to be a mess."

The July 5 fight between Kendall Holt and Ricardo Torres at Planet Hollywood is a potential case in point.

According to Arum, who is promoting the bout, Torres, the WBO super lightweight champion, probably will want to fight in 10-ounce gloves. Holt, the No. 1 contender, probably will want 8-ounce gloves. If the two camps can’t agree, it’ll be 10-ounce gloves.

"They screwed up," Arum said of the NAC. "They should have said if the two fighters can’t come to an agreement, it should be 8-ounce gloves. That’s the way it currently is in every other jurisdiction in the world. All it does is raise another negative issue."

But after hearing from several doctors, the commission opted to use 10-ounce gloves if the fighters disagree on which gloves to wear.

The NAC plans to revisit the controversy in the fall as more data is gathered on which glove is truly safer.

"We’re not going to compromise on this," chairman John Bailey said. "Our goal has to be the continued safety of the fighters."

Dr. Timothy Trainor, the consulting research physician to the NAC, said the data he collected from Jan. 21, 2006, to Nov. 2, 2007, doesn’t reveal a firm conclusion one way or the other.

"You can spin the numbers anyway you want," Trainor told the commission on Thursday. "The only way you’re going to validate it is by doing a power statistical analysis. Even then, you may not come to a fair conclusion.

"We can’t say with any certainty that a 10-ounce glove is safer than an 8-ounce glove."

In the first eight months of 2006, 28 junior welterweight and welterweight matches were fought with 8-ounce gloves in Nevada before the rule went into effect. Of those 28 fights, 22 ended with a boxer injury and/or suspension. Since the move to 10-ounce gloves, 48 matches have been fought, with 42 resulting in injury and/or suspension.

During the same time frames, 14 percent of the bouts with 8-ounce gloves ended in technical knockout and 37 percent of the bouts with 10-ounce gloves ended in TKO.

In Nevada, a fighter is subject to a minimum 30-day suspension if he suffers a knockout or a TKO. Also, he can be suspended if he requires medical attention during or after a fight.

No independent scientific study has been done to show that one glove is safer than the other.

The 10-ounce glove has slightly more padding, but Trainor said that doesn’t necessarily make it safer.

The extra padding to protect a fighter’s hands is negligible, while the additional 2 ounces do force a fighter who is accustomed to wearing 8-ounce gloves to adjust.

"It definitely bears more study and discussion," Bailey said.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.

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