Still no end to Crawford vs. Avanesyan glove affair

DAVID AVANESYAN has told Boxing News that he is still waiting to receive a response from the Nebraska Athletic Commission (NAC) over their alleged failure to investigate claims that rules were broken during his sixth-round loss to WBO welterweight titlist Terence Crawford at the CHI Health Center, Omaha on December 10.

The Armenian contacted Aaron Hendry, the NAC’s Division Manager of Human Resources and Investigations, in January but has yet to receive a response. Neil Marsh, Avanesyan’s manager, filed a complaint on December 15 claiming, and providing, what the team believes is proof that the gloves used by Crawford were either defective, previously used, substandard or otherwise contrary to WBO Championship rules, NAC rules and regulations as well as Federal and State Law stipulations.

Sparkle Lee, the fight’s referee, acknowledged that there was damage to Crawford’s Everlast gloves at the start of round six, but along with Russell Moral, the WBO supervisor and the NAC, he decided to let the round go ahead instead of switching to another pair of gloves. They have submitted further photographic evidence to suggest the gloves were defective prior to the fight commencing.

As previously reported, Chapter 4, Rules 006.01 and 006.02 states that gloves should be provided by the promoter and must be in proper condition. It is made quite clear that any damage to gloves accrued in a fight should be inspected to ensure they are for fit for competition. It is Team Avanesyan’s suspicion that the gloves selected at the rules meeting were not the gloves Crawford wore when he entered the ring.

Chapter 006.04 states that: ‘The gloves cannot be twisted or manipulated in any way by the contestants or others. If a glove breaks or string becomes untied during the bout, the referee will instruct the timekeeper to take a time-out while the glove issue is being corrected. All gloves much be checked by a Commission official prior to the start of the bouts. Any snagged, torn, or unfit gloves will not be approved for competition.’

‘During the development cycle of the custom fight gloves used in Crawford vs. Avanesyan a batch of defective leather was used in production resulting in a malfunction during the competition,’ was the response from Everlast when the allegations were made, but they denied any wrongdoing on Team Crawford’s part and said that the commission had deemed that the fight could continue until the end of the sixth round.

Terence Crawford and David Avanesyan fight at CHI Health Center on December 10, 2022 in Omaha, Nebraska (Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

While not disputing Crawford’s performance and win, the 34-year-old still argues that the gloves were clearly and obviously defective, and that they contributed to his knockout defeat. His team have submitted photos to support their case along with allegations that the gloves were damaged before the fight began, and therefore an unfair advantage was gained by Crawford and the chance of inflicting a knockout or damage to the opponent was heightened.

They have also argued that the gloves became noticeably damaged during the fight itself, stating that: ‘A careful examination of the evidence shows the gloves appear to be not new as represented and required, missing padding, and splitting at the seams in multiple places.’

January’s letter was the second attempt on the part of the former EBU welterweight titlist to request a full-scale investigation as well as full disclosure of Nebraska’s procedures for a potential investigation and prosecution.

Marsh has told BN that the only response so far was a letter dated December 21 in which the NAC did not give a timescale for an instigation, instead promising to ‘vigorously defend themselves’ if any action was taken.

Due to the lack of an investigation and response, Avanesyan has opted to push to have the result changed to a No Contest if his claims of the use of defective gloves are verified by the investigative process. This can only be achieved if the NAC conduct a full and thorough investigation.

Team Avanesyan have submitted several information requests, chiefly: Who supervised Crawford’s dressing room on the night and was present when the gloves were given to him? Why weren’t the gloves changed when it became clear that they were obviously defective during the fight itself, a clear breach of the commission’s duty of care? Who took possession of the gloves after the bout and what would be the next step in terms of an investigation?

Avanesyan has demanded an answer to the question as to why the gloves were not changed when they had a timeout to inspect the defects, which he claims rendered the gloves ineffective and contributed to what a was heavy stoppage defeat.

“I instructed my legal team, Leon Margules, who gathered the facts and have wrote to everybody relevant, and nobody responded,” said Avanesyan when talking to BN. “When you are writing via a lawyer to the likes of the Nebraska commission and others you expect a level of professional respect.

“The facts are the gloves situation in this fight was absolutely shocking, maybe they feel this is going away. For all parties to not respond (to me) it makes me question certain ones integrity even more. I’ve released this to give everyone an update because it seems people want it brushed under the carpet.

“To fight Terence Crawford was always going to be a hard task, even on a level playing field,” he added. “I’m never one to moan about results — I take it on the chin like any true fighter would — but to lose with defective gloves and the referee not to stop the fight at that point to change the gloves leaves me very annoyed, even more so at officials that are there to ensure a fair fight and protect both fighters. We will be meeting to discuss the next step.”
With all the controversy swirling around boxing, a business that does itself absolutely no favours when it comes to making itself clear and transparent, it is not an unreasonable claim for the fighter to make for his own peace of mind and in order to allow him to move on with his career.

If a fighter tests positive for a doping offence, cheating, then the result is usually turned into a No Contest so why should this be any different if mistakes were made and intent proven? Avanesyan just wants answers and demands the truth.

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