Convicted Artist Magazine

Dec 06th
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Home Boxing Let me "butt" in...
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Let me "butt" in...

Doesn't it seem headbutts are becoming fight-altering with more and more regularity?  Also, it isn't just cuts that are involved now.  From the Nate Campbell blindness against Timothy Bradley, to the similar reaction of Hasim Rahman against James Toney, to the headbutt-knockout endured by Vivian Harris, the collision of heads seems to become more dangerous as time passes. 
This is not entirely new.  Randie Carver lost his life due to repeated headbutts in an NABF title match against Kabary Salem in Kansas City in 1999.  Mike Tyson lost his sanity due to frequent headbutts from Evander Holyfield in 1997.  In fact, with the baseball sized knot suffered by Hasim Rahman, Holyfield was even inventing new injuries with his head.
Let us not also forget the knockouts / knockdowns that were indirectly a result of headbutts.  Marco Antonio Barerra (against Junior Jones), Shane Mosley (against Vernon Forrest), and most recently Edgar Sosa (against Rodel Mayol) have all had fights alter, and usually end as a result of punch-damage they suffered while still reeling from headbutts.
The answer to this problem, I feel, is a more educated study of how a referee can prevent headbutts from occuring.  Not every intentional headbutt is as blatant as the one Edison Miranda gave to Arthur Abraham. In fact, some of the great headbutt artists, like Holyfield, have never lost a point due to this infraction.  However, if one fighter is consistently walking away from the "accidental" headbutts unscathed, while another is backing away, bleeding, and looking disoriented, it is usually pretty clear who is at fault for them. 
Warnings would have saved Carver's life.  Salem looked to simply be working in close, because he would follow his headbutts with body work.  Now, if I am not fooled by this, I fail to see why a paid official should be.  Warnings and point deductions for even slight headbutts, would force the fighter benefiting to at least alter his/her style of attack so as to avoid them.  This may not seem fair if the fighter who is benefitting really isn't intentionally headbutting; but it is his/her style which is causing the damage, and it should be up to him/her to adjust. 
Unintentional low blows are still penalized, and not tolerated merely because the offending fighter is a body puncher.  We should treat headbutts the same way.  While one might wish they were dead after being hit by a low blow, it is not a realisitc possibility.  With headbutts, one may actually pay the ultimate price, and we should be doing a lot more in the boxing world to avoid it.
Chris Strait

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