Convicted Artist Magazine

May 25th
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boxing-head-buttsAfter Devon Alexander became the 4th consecutive, and 6th known championship opponent overall, to be cut by a Timothy Bradley headbutt, we got to revisit an old, ugly question.  Is not preventing a foul, just as bad as intentionally causing it?  Famous foulers like Eusebio Pedroza, Terry Norris, and Joel Casamayor were not known for this particular foul.  In fact, while Casamayor was the king of foul subtlety… elbowing, and hitting slightly low, Norris was the king of flagrancy… hitting while down, after the bell, etc.

The only correlation to what we are dealing with in Bradley is Evander Holyfield.  Holyfield, particularly in his later career, was known for using his elbows, and particularly his head as a weapon.  It was this infraction that Tyson blamed for both of his losses to Holyfield.  The allegations eventually came from all of Holyfield’s later opponents, such as Ruiz and Rahman, the latter of which sported one of the ugliest forehead swellings in boxing history.

Unlike Holyfield, however, Bradley is entering his prime.  He is not a big puncher, and wins his fights with aggressiveness.  It seems hardly likely that he could adjust his style, even if he was coming out of these head clashes the worse for wear.  The fact that he never does, however, is what is causing eyebrows to rise.  In every occurrence, Bradley walks away from head clashes injury free.  Ditto Holyfield.  While experts mocked Shane Mosley’s assertion that Vernon Forrest had studied how to headbutt Mosley, our judgment came from the fact that it wasn’t chronic.  The headbutt that dizzied Mosley in the first match with Forrest, appeared to be a single incident in Forrest’s career.  Even Vernon stepped back and held his head after that 2nd round clash that turned the tide of their 2002 match.

Not so with Bradley, who even joked about his baby’s ultrasound in the pre-fight films on HBO, stating that it was “a Bradley head”.  Certainly Bradley knows, as Holyfield did, that there is a good and bad place to be during a head clash, and he is always on the right side of it.  I am a big Bradley fan, and believe his relentlessness, conditioning, talent, and ring generalship are mostly responsible for his victories.  However, where do you draw the line?

In different commissions, with different referees, no one ever penalized Bradley (or Holyfield for that matter) for the use of his head.  At some point, a referee needs to do just that.  Some warnings are necessary, even if it’s a warning to both fighters.  Perhaps giving opponents time to recover, or calling it a “no contest” instead of a technical decision.  These mvoes would be appropriate if the clashes have been repetitive, and clearly turning the tide of a fight.  Opponents are being discombobulated by something that is not within the rules.  Accidental or not, if it’s changing the result, it must be stopped.

Chris Strait

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