Arguing the sweet science is “plagued” by “fraud, corruption, and ineffective regulation,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is proposing a United States Boxing Commission with the power to determine who judges and referees major fights.
McCain co-introduced the legislation Monday with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (both men were amateur boxers in their younger years). The duo’s move was spurred by Timothy Bradley’s controversial win over Manny Pacquiao earlier this month in Las Vegas. Reid, who represents the boxing mecca of Nevada, said last week he believed Pacquiao should’ve won the fight, an opinion echoed by pundits. The promoter who represents both fighters said the “outlandish” decision represented “a death knell for the sport.”
“Professional boxing remains the only major sport in the United States that does not have a strong, centralized association, league, or other regulatory body to establish and enforce uniform rules and practices,” McCain said in a Senate floor speech introducing the legislation. “Ineffective oversight of professional boxing will continue to result in scandals, controversies, unethical practices, a lack trust in the integrity of judged outcomes and most tragic of all, unnecessary deaths in the sport.”
McCain said he would prefer the boxing industry regulate itself, but the workings of a “powerful few” who benefit from the current patchwork system left federal intervention as the only option.
The proposed commission would have the power to license boxers, managers and boxing organizations, appoint judges and referees for matches lasting more than 10 rounds and improve safety standards. Fees paid by promoters, fighters and boxing organizations would fund the commission’s work.
McCain, who said his record as boxer at the Naval Academy was “painfully undistinguished,” has introduced similar legislation in the past. The bill passed the Senate via unanimous consent in 2005. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) has sponsored House versions of the legislation in the past, but has yet to introduce a bill this Congress.