LAS VEGAS – A fight night controversy as well as potential legal action was averted on Thursday when representatives of WBA-WBC middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin and linear champion Canelo Alvarez came to an agreement on the amount of tape that will be allowed to be used to wrap the fighters’ hands at their title bout on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.
Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez, and promoter Tom Loeffler have battled with Alvarez and the Nevada Athletic Commission over a variety of issues in the past several months, including the way in which Alvarez’s hands are wrapped, the gloves he wanted to wear and now, the amount of tape that could be used.
The latest controversy is a head-scratcher, since Nevada’s rules are specific.
Golovkin’s group demanded action over tape
Sanchez complained that Alvarez used far more tape on his hands on Sept. 16, 2017, in the first fight between the two, which ended in a split draw, than is legal. Sanchez said Alvarez had 48-feet of one-inch wide tape on each hand, or twice the amount Nevada’s rules permit. Golden Boy president Eric Gomez said he did not know how much tape Alvarez had on his hands in the first fight, but said he is certain Sanchez had not measured it.
At the rules meeting on Wednesday, Bob Bennett, the executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, said he would permit the fighters’ hands to be wrapped on Saturday the same way they were in the first fight. Loeffler’s attorney, Ron DiNicola, then wrote a letter to Bennett and commission chairman Anthony Marnell, demanding the commission enforce its rules.
After discussion, Sanchez on Thursday said he would compromise and agree to allow 30 feet, which is the same rule as the California State Athletic Commission uses. Golden Boy agreed with Sanchez’s suggestion and so the fighters will be limited to 30 feet.
Is there an advantage with tape?
Nevada Athletic Commission regulation 467.432 reads, “Each unarmed combatant shall use soft surgical bandage not over 2 inches wide, held in place by not more than 12 feet of surgeon’s adhesive tape for each hand.” Hand wrappers use the tape in one-inch wide increments, so they’re permitted 24 feet. One roll of the tape used is 30 feet.
“It provides more support, it makes the hand heavier and it creates momentum and there’s more force,” Sanchez told Yahoo Sports on Thursday.
Gomez, though, said it had no impact on punching and said the tape is used to protect vulnerable areas of a fighter’s hands. He noted that super flyweight Roman Gonzalez uses 37 feet of tape on his hands.
“It’s unrealistic,” Gomez said of the Nevada rules. “The regulations in Nevada only allow 12 feet [of 2-inch tape] and it’s never been enforced. This isn’t going on the punching area; it’s over the metacarpals and around the wrist to prevent a fighter from breaking bones in his hand.”
The Nevada commission revised its regulations in 2016, but 467.432 wasn’t updated. Bennett said it is an antiquated rule and after he learned of the issue, he began a study. Eight months ago, he sent a proposed new regulation to the state’s legislative control bureau proposing fighters be allowed to use 45 feet of tape to wrap their hands.
Bennett said he just got the proposal back from the legislative control bureau and it is expected to be enacted within the next month or so.
Complaints about Alvarez building
Gomez said he was irritated that Golovkin’s team was continuously complaining about issues that had no impact.
“They’re coming up with everything you can imagine,” Gomez said. “They’re complaining about Canelo’s beard. They have complained about the tape. They complained about the judges and the referee. What that shows me is, they’re worried. Every time, they’ve gotten what they wanted, and that’s OK, because we have the better fighter and if they have gotten all of these rulings the way they want, there can be no excuses when Canelo beats him.”
What gloves will be used?
Alvarez will wear Winning gloves Saturday, while Golovkin will wear Grant. The commission got three pairs of gloves from each fighter and took one pair of each. They were cut open and inspected. Then, each team chose its fight night gloves and designated a backup from the remaining two.
Alvarez wanted to have a pair on Saturday to cut open and inspect after the fight, but Golovkin’s team objected because the commission had already approved the gloves. The commission sided with Golovkin on that.
Alvarez had wanted to wear a custom brand of gloves made by his trainer called “No Boxing No Life.” The Nevada commission two weeks ago ruled they weren’t ready for use in a main event but allowed them to be used in a preliminary fight on Thursday. Horacio Garcia wore them in an eight-rounder Thursday at the Hard Rock in a loss to Isaac Zarate.
There appears to be a big crease in Garcia’s glove as he is fighting. The California athletic commission last week ruled the “No Boxing No Life” gloves were unsuitable until some design changes were made. Bennett said he was aware of what appeared to be a crease in the glove and said he would investigate.
More complains from GGG team
Sanchez questioned Golden Boy’s relationship with the Nevada commission. He pointed out instances in which he said Nevada favored Golden Boy in rulings in fights past.
“You have to ask yourself why it is every time with Golden Boy here in Nevada that there is some leniency toward them,” Sanchez said. “This goes back to when they promoted the [Floyd] Mayweather-[Marcos] Maidana fight [in 2013]. There was an issue with the gloves and they went with Golden Boy. You could see when I was protesting Canelo’s wraps last year, there was way too much tape and they were stacking, and they just ignored that. Is Golden Boy the home promoter here?”
He noted that at least one judge thought Alvarez had fought to a draw with Mayweather in 2013 and said Adalaide Byrd’s 10-2 scorecard in favor of Alvarez in his fight with Golovkin last year was questionable.
Bennett, who said at the time of last year’s fight that Byrd’s score was out of line, said there is no favoritism and the commission was trying to regulate the sport as fairly as it could.