Tuesday, February 22
Standing eight to be counted out

Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York plans to follow the lead of other states by proposing the elimination of the standing eight count in all professional bouts.

The Athletic Commission also intends to change rules governing judge selection and payments prompted by the disputed Evander Holyfield-Lennox Lewis draw last year at Madison Square Garden.

The rules in both instances are expected to be approved in April.

The standing eight count was designed to protect boxers by allowing the referee to step in and give an overwhelmed fighter an eight-second respite.

Barry Jordan, a neurologist and ringside physician during many New York bouts, said the thinking has changed among doctors.

"If a boxer is sustaining enough punishment to have to count to eight to assess his condition, then he's probably suffered enough punishment to stop the fight," Jordan said.

Athletic Commission counsel Lawrence Mandelker said boxing officials believe some referees were unfairly using the count to give beleaguered boxers a rest.

"If a fighter is ahead and he is on the verge of getting a knockout, they are depriving him of a chance to finish the bout and score the knockout," said Steve Acunto, a deputy state athletic commissioner in New York and head of the American Association for the Improvement of Boxing.

Championship bouts in New York are run under rules of the national Association of Boxing Commissions, which in 1998 did away with the standing eight count. The association represents boxing officials in the 48 states in which professional bouts are allowed.

New rules will provide for judges at championship bouts in New York to be selected by the Athletic Commission and not boxing's sanctioning organizations.

They also create a sliding scale for what referees and judges at such bouts will be paid, based on the fight's purse.

For a fight with a combined purse of $1 million to $2.5 million, judges and the referee will get $3,333 each. For bouts with a combined purse of $10 million or more, judges and the referee will earn $6,000 each.

The new regulations provide reimbursement for travel by judges and referees, plus lodging and meal expenses for title fights.

The state will require a declaration that no one at a bout's sanctioning body received payment from the fight's promoter.

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