I have been talking to the Florida State Boxing Commission (FSBC) for the last week in response to what the boxing world felt was a disgraceful robbery of Arash Usmanee against Rances Barthelemy in last week's Friday Night Fights main event. Last night when ESPN 2 ran a segment looking back at the fight and focusing on the controversy, they reported that one of the likely reasons that an appeal had not been filed by the Usmanee camp was that ESPN had been told by the FSBC that there was a $10,000 fee to file an appeal.
I was shocked to hear this given that in my communications with the FSBC over the last week, a fee was not once brought to my attention. It also would have set up an almost impossible process to have a fight reviewed. Florida has told me multiple times that they can not investigate a fight without an official complaint form being submitted and then it has to be deemed legally worthy of an investigation. If there was also a cost for a fighter to file an appeal, it would be yet another hurdle -- not to mention a way for a commission to profit from dubious decisions -- for justice.
The Director of Communications for Florida's Department of Business & Professional Regulation, Sandi Poreda denied to me that there is any fee associated with an appeal and sent the following documentation, which they will also be uploading to their website shortly:
Florida State Boxing Commission: The complaint process and how to report a fraudulent match
Purpose: The Florida State Boxing Commission licenses and regulates professional boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts and approves amateur boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts sanctioning organizations. The Commission ensures that all professional matches are conducted in accordance with provisions of state laws and rules. Safety and integrity are the Commission’s top priorities.
Decisions of Match Results: According to Rule 61K1-1.035(4), Florida Administrative Code, a decision rendered at the conclusion or termination of any match is final and shall not be changed unless it is determined that any of the following occurred:
1. There was collusion affecting the result of any match;
2. The compilation of the round or match score cards of the referee and judges shows an error which indicates that the decision was awarded to the wrong participant;
3. There was a violation of Rule 61K1-1.0043, F.A.C., relating to drugs or foreign substances; or
4. There was a violation of Chapter 548, F.S., or the rules set forth herein which violation affected the result of the match.
The rule further states that if it is determined that any of the above occurred, the decision rendered shall be changed as directed by the commission.
Reporting Fraud: Florida statutes prohibit matches that are improperly or unlawfully influenced by fraud or collusion. According to Section 528.058, Florida Statutes, if a licensee has knowledge of an act prohibited by Florida Statutes, the licensee shall immediately report such knowledge in writing to the commission. A violation of this nature is a criminal offense. There is no cost associated with this reporting process.
Complaints: Individuals may file a formal complaint with the Department by filling out a uniform complaint form, available online at www.myfloridalicense.com There is no cost for filing a formal complaint.
The Division of Regulation is responsible for intake and initial analysis of all profession-regulated complaints. Complaints are reviewed to determine whether they meet the statutory definition of legal sufficiency, which is defined by Florida Statutes as one that contains ultimate facts that show that a violation of statutes or rules or rules of any regulatory board in the department has occurred. Complaints that are found to be legally sufficient are investigated and referred to the Department’s Office of General Counsel for review and determination of probable cause.
So the state has guaranteed to me that there is no cost associated with this.
If we're interested in keeping the heat up on the commission in this case -- and we will do this with every fight deemed a "robbery" to appear on TV this year -- go to the My Florida License page - click "file a complaint" on the left hand side - click the "click here to file a complaint" link - select "boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts" - and fill out the form. There is an address where the forms can be mailed, but you can also submit the forms via fax to 850.921.2124 or via e-mail to ULA@dbpr.state.fl.us.