Possible Mass rule change after controversial bout

Monday, August 13, 2012

At a recent Massachusett card, Justin Kristie and David Baxter made their amateur debuts. Both fighters came from top-flight gyms, and demonstrated extraordinary skill given their experience.

Towards the close of the first round, Kristie locks in a triangle, and Baxter appears to tap, or at least throw repeated open hand body shots in a closed fist contest.

What followed immediately was not entirely unusual:
•Baxter goes to sleep.
•The bell sounds.
•Baxter starts to convulse.
•Kristie and camp celebrate.

Then things took a turn into the epically bizarre:
•Baxter comes to, and far more than a minute passes.
•Baxter is attended to by two ringside physicians.
•Baxter is allowed to continue to the next round.
•Baxter wins via TKO, after having gone out and convulsed at the close of the previous round.

Should there be a rubber match?

And on the sober side, will the regulating body do anything about what happened?

To most outside observers, the officiating was farcial.

“In New Jersey, and, I would surmise, in many other commissions, the fight would have been stopped after the fighter was caught in a submission that he couldn’t remove himself from, after he suffered a loss of consciousness, and after he suffered a seizure,” said New Jersey State Athletic Control Board legal counsel Nick Lembo. “A fighter should be able to intelligently defend himself and continue at all times. He cannot be saved by the bell in any round, or any portion of the fight.”

The Mass commission took a more nuanced view.

“The commission agreed it deserves careful examination,” Terrel Harris, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission, wrote in an email to MMAjunkie.com.

“[Baxter] stayed awake until right after the bell then blacked out for a second, is how it appears and what the doctors said.”

At a meeting planned for October, the commission’s medical advisory board is expected to offer an opinion on whether a “per se rule” is needed to immediately end matches in which a fighter loses consciousness from a submission hold.

A per se rule is defined as a generalized rule applied without consideration for specific circumstances.

Today the spokesperson said that the commission took no action on the appeal because the fighters and their reps didn’t show to a July 12 meeting at which both were offered the opportunity to testify about the fight.

Kristie’s trainer, Andrew Calandrelli, confirmed that he filed an appeal for the fighter but was unable to make the meeting.

“The worst part of the whole situation is that Justin hasn’t really been back (to the gym) since then,” Calandrelli said. “That kind of killed his spirt a little.”

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