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Nevada commish Bob Bennett on why Badou Jack’s cut didn’t end the fight

Light heavyweight contender Badou Jack. Photo credit: Esther Lin/Showtime
21
Jan

The gash on the forehead of the fighter was as gruesome as you are likely to see, unless you are watching a splatter flick.

But Badou Jack wasn’t appearing in “Friday the 13th Part 17: Broner’s Revenge.”

The Swedish born hitter, age 35, clashed heads in the ring at the MGM Grand, mashing skulls with foe Marcus Browne. That occurred in round seven and the copious amount of crimson fluid on Jack’s face had watchers cringing. And when the camera zoomed in on the slice, even seasoned fight watchers recoiled.

Shouldn’t they stop this thing, viewers across the planet said to themselves, and the announce team consisting of Mauro Ranallo, Al Bernstein and Paul Malignaggi also chatted about this possibility.

After the slice occurred, the senior ring physician on call at the arena, Dr. Albert Capanna, examined the fighter. Referee Tony Weeks kept close eye on the wound and visited Jack in between rounds, assessing the severity of the opening. Bob Bennett, the executive director of the Nevada commission, also trained his eyes on the Jack gash.

I touched base with Bennett on Sunday, looking to get some more insights into what the thought processing was while this turn of events played out. Bennett told me that he saw what we saw, a pretty heavy duty cut. He and those ringside saw right away that an accidental clash of heads caused the wound, so he knew that if the doctor decided that it would be best for Jack to call it a night, they’d go to the scorecards and a decision would be rendered. He told me that he made sure that Jack’s vision wasn’t impaired, that he could see what was being launched at him. Yes, his field of vision is within the bounds of what is accepted in the squared circle, Bennett said he was told.

Common sense tells us that the Jack corner could have told Weeks to halt the scrap. But Jack is a proud vet with a warrior heart, and he wanted to fight on, and his corner decided that he was doing enough against Browne to warrant not pulling the plug. Weeks, who Bennett called a future Hall of Fame arbiter, is ultra seasoned – he’s done 698 pro bouts since 1994, according to BoxRec – and so he knows the right questions to ask and signs to look for. He wasn’t inclined to end it early, not with the bloodied but unbowed man being a former super middleweight and then light heavyweight champion.

So, Bennett and company left it to the ring physician to have final say. “For 30 years, he’s been a neurosurgeon,” Bennett said of Dr. Capanna, so presumably he’s well versed in a span of cuts that range from “let the action continue” to “that looks bad, let’s end this thing.”

“Everybody can be Monday morning quarterback,” said Bennett on Sunday. But his team and the doctor will have a lengthier debriefing this week, he told me, to get an explicit handle of what Capanna’s line of thinking in the fog of the war was.

Bennett readily acknowledged he doesn’t take issue with anyone expressing the stance that the bout could’ve been stopped early due to the cut. But, he told me, he chatted with the medical expert during his second visit with the doctor after the doc had evaluated Jack. The doctor, he said, even mentioned specifically which artery could be in play with a cut in that region of the face, but wasn’t, in his estimation, and communicated why he was comfortable with letting the fight go.

So, this week, Bennett will dig in and get more details on the handling of the cut and the reasoning as to why Capanna didn’t recommend to Weeks he halt the proceedings. “There’s always room for improvement and we do de-briefings, so we can recognize what went right and what we can improve on, individually and collectively.”

For the record, Jack posted to social media that he was feeling OK after the loss. Yes, he needed stitches, 25 of them to be exact, but he vowed to fight on after congratulating Team Browne.

This is the age of the hot take, and too often, we on the outside are guilty of opining ASAP and not always taking the time to get reaction from the principals, including those more well versed in the subject matter than we are. In this case, that means a neurosurgeon with 30 years of training and experience tucked into his doctor bag. But yes, I think I reacted very much like you did.

Close up pics of the gash had me involuntarily backing away from the image. And my standard take on matters such as these – from my seat as a journalist/reporter/boxing analyst/human being – is that it’s better to call an to end to the proceedings too early than too late, better that officials err on the side of caution than dauntlessness by proxy.

Woods, a Brooklyn resident, was a staff writer at NY Newsday, before joining ESPN The Magazine (2003-2011).  He edited TheSweetScience.com (2007-20015), publishes NYFights.com, calls fights for Facebook Fightnight Live and does the “Talkbox” podcast for Everlast. 

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