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How Bouts Proposed For A Professional Boxing Event Are Approved By The Maryland State Athletic Commission - News - Athletic Commission

The Maryland State Athletic Commission (the “Commission”) is an agency operating within the Maryland Department of Labor which oversees the licensing and regulation of participants and contests (“bouts”) involving combative sports in Maryland – including professional boxing.  The Commission’s role is to protect the health and safety of all participants in combative sporting events conducted in Maryland, while also ensuring that the public is provided with fair and adequate bouts when they purchase tickets to attend such boxing events.
In creating the Commission, the Maryland Legislature recognized that combative sports involve recognized risks as hazardous activities.  The Commission was charged with adopting regulations and procedures designed to reduce as much as reasonably can be done the risks to the individuals who participate in these activities.  Over the years, medical science has identified that a hidden additional risk of participating in combative sports is the potential for developing Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (“CTE”) due to repetitive brain trauma.  To help to reduce the risk of CTE and other injuries, the Commission adopted the following procedures for professional boxing events:

  1.  By regulation, a professional boxing event must include at least five bouts and 26 rounds of professional boxing with four bouts permitted when special permission is granted by the Commission.  Other rules govern the conduct of “pro-am” boxing events.
  2. The promoter of a professional boxing event generally engages a matchmaker to propose the contestants for each bout.  The proposal lists the names of the boxers, the number of scheduled rounds and the maximum weight limit proposed.  It also must contain a BoxRec link for each boxer’s boxing record and history, including medical or other suspensions.  The matchmaker may provide written information to the Commission which he or she feels is relevant to justify or support the approval of a bout including, but not limited to, the boxing experience and boxing skills of the two boxers. 
  3. The Executive Director reviews the proposed boxers’ boxing experience, boxing skills, fitness and medical history, with particular emphasis given to prior exposure to potential head trauma.  The Executive Director may also interview the boxer, the trainer or staff of other athletic commissions as may be necessary to reach a determination regarding the eligibility of that boxer for the proposed bout.
  4. Based upon the Commission’s review, the Chief Physician considers the amount and frequency of prior head trauma (including, but not limited to, the history and severity of any knockouts) the fighter sustained in prior bouts, and makes a recommendation to the Commission as to whether the proposed bout should be sanctioned from a medical standpoint.
  5. The Executive Director presents his review and recommendation along with the recommendation of the Chief Physician to the Commission for a final decision on the approval of a proposed bout.  It is the expressed policy of the Commission to not override or reverse a medical decision made by the Chief Physician regarding the safety of a proposed bout.  Likewise, the Commission will not approve a bout which either on its face or after investigation appears to be a mismatch of skills which would present an undue risk of injury to one of the boxers.
  6. The Commission’s decision to sanction a bout is final.

In order to avoid having boxing events postponed, delayed or cancelled due to an insufficient number of approved bouts or rounds, it is the obligation of the promoter to ensure that a sufficient number of bouts and rounds are proposed for each boxing event by contracting bouts early enough to allow for the substitution of boxers or bouts should the initial bouts or boxers not receive Commission approval. 
This process should begin at least 30 to 60 days prior to a proposed event; the required minimum number of rounds and bouts should be scheduled not less than two weeks prior to the date of the boxing event whenever possible.