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17 NOVEMBER 2018


Dangers of the Late Replacement in Boxing

By Flip Homansky MD

It is a constant in our sport - and one of our biggest problems. Every show seems to have incomplete cards going into the week of the fight. The reasons for this are numerous. Many cards start with a group of locals or favorites, and then the process begins to find their victims. This is frequently done through ‘brokers’ who are contracted to bring in a string of opponents. That is why we see TBA (to be announced) so often in the bout agreements. The other problems are of course injuries, visa problems, and medical issues.

Whatever the reasons, these late replacements provide most of the work and concern of the local regulators. No one wants to see a show fall apart. We all understand the enormous problems facing the matchmaker. The issue becomes how do you verify records and medical reports at the last minute. Time constraints become a real issue, and there is the distinct potential that pressure will be applied to force a regulator to ok an opponent that would otherwise be unacceptable. I believe that certain opponents may be brought in late just to facilitate them being licensed.

Three hours before a card last night our chief medical officer was on the phone with a physician in Los Angeles, trying to determine if a fighter was medically eligible to fight that night. On the same card, we had two fighters who missed their Opthamologist evaluation at the last possible minute, but had traveled from as far away as Amsterdam. The promoter was desperate to have them fight, and they had been active in the ring with no eye problems. What did we do? Of course, we couldn’t allow them to fight. Each commission must have standard rules and follow them to a tee. If you start cutting corners to help the promoter, eventually you will hurt a fighter. Legal issues will pop up when you don’t follow your own rules. Your commission must act uniformly, or lawyers will be on your doorstep.

I am most concerned about the so-called late replacement who is brought in to fill a hole in the card. Is he in shape? Has he been in the gym? How much weight did he have to lose or gain to make the contracted weight? You may have his record, but is it verified? And how about the level of his opponents? Has he been active? Any recent injuries in the ring or the gym? The possibility of a mismatch is so much greater in this situation. We cannot allow someone to compete just to fill out the card. We cannot allow someone to compete just to gain a win for the local kid.

I propose a specific checklist that each commission must go through for any late replacement. We must not allow any corners to be cut out of convenience. If there isn’t time for true verification, then the match shouldn’t be approved. Weekends and holidays only make this worse.

1) We must know who the matchmaker is using to bring the opponent in.

2) His recent fighting weight.

3) Not only his record, but the level of his opponents.

4) Where he has been training (in what gym and with whom).

5) All medical exams must be current, and verified by the attending physician or the lab where they were done (I have specific instances of lab reports being sent to me that were either never done or doctored).

6) Determination of all recent injuries - both in the ring, gym and otherwise.

Matchmakers constantly complain of the difficulty in putting cards together. They frequently feel that the cost of the medical tests is prohibitive. The bottom line is that we have to do everything possible to make this very difficult sport as safe as possible. The alternative is unacceptable.


Dr. Flip Homansky is the current Vice-Chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC). For over twenty years, he served as Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board and Chief Ringside Physician for the NSAC.

Dr. Flip Homansky practices in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he had been a licensed ringside physician and Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board for the Nevada State Athletic Commission for over twenty years. His medical specialty is in the field of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Homansky was appointed by Nevada’s Governor, Kenny C. Guinn, in 2000, to serve as a Commissioner of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Although he is currently Vice-Chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, all of the views, opinions, and/or recommendations contained herein are solely his own and do not necessary reflect those of Nevada’s Commission. All readers are strongly cautioned that the information contained herein is not intended to, and never should, substitute for the necessity of seeking the advice of a qualified medical professional whenever a boxer or his/her representatives have specific questions regarding the best course of action that a boxer should take. Furthermore, since it is possible that general information herein may pertain only to a law, regulation, rule or acceptable standard of practice for a particular jurisdiction, a boxer or his/her representatives must always inquire with the appropriate licensing jurisdiction to determine the applicable laws, regulations, rules, and acceptable standards of practice for each jurisdiction.

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