By GREG KRIKORIAN Los Angeles Times
Thursday, March 4, 2004
A federal investigation of one of boxing's top promoters has uncovered evidence suggesting that thousands of professional bouts have been essentially
rigged through fraudulent mismatches, authorities say.
There is no evidence so far that any championship fights have been fixed, and authorities are focusing their attention on only a fraction of the
matches they suspect are tainted.
But law enforcement sources and others familiar with the nearly 2- year-old FBI investigation say authorities have obtained evidence showing that
bouts featuring second-rate boxers using false names have become commonplace in at least eight states. The scheme almost always relies on the natural
outcome of deliberate mismatches rather than on fighters taking dives, they said.
"Fixing fights is almost not worth it. It's high risk," said a law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "Why do that when 90%
of the time, you can get the results you want by mismatching fighters?"
Pairing up mismatched fighters is not in itself illegal, but authorities say they are looking at a variety of federal and state laws that prohibit
fraud, sports bribery, racketeering and other crimes.
Thus far, the investigation is focused on the Las Vegas-based Top Rank boxing organization, owned by Bob Arum. Top Rank spokesman Patrick Smith
declined to comment.
FBI agents are investigating several bouts that led to the serious injury or death of boxers who arguably should not have been fighting. These include
a fight in July in Utah featuring Brad Rone, 34, who collapsed and died in the first round while facing an opponent who had beaten him just a month
Authorities said they have evidence showing that the boxing scandal stretches from Nevada and California to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Utah