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Duran Passes Brain Tests

Katherine Dunn
    Roberto Duran tops off his tour of tribal casinos in Washington state on Saturday, August 12 at the Yakima Nation Legends Casino in Toppenish, WA. Though Duran has been doing public workout sessions at other casinos under contract with Ballys, it is Legends  pro fight card that proposes to feature the 49 year-old Duran (103-15, 69 KO's) in a ten round 168 pound main event against 30 year-old Patrick Joseph Goosen (19-2, 13 KO's). 
Goosen's last fight was a 1999 ten round decision loss to Hector Camacho Senior. He has been out of the ring for over a year and has reportedly been coaxed from retirement to serve as Duran's playmate.

As of this writing, neither Duran nor Goosen has completed the requirements for licensing by the Yakima Tribal Commission. Both are expected to submit complete applications early this week.

    Concern has been expressed by various parties about the fact that Duran was placed on the national suspension list by Nevada in August,1998 after being stopped in the third round by William Joppy. The suspension includes a requirement for an MRI and a complete neurological examination with the notation "Dr. (Flip) Homansky must O.K."

 Duran has fought twice outside the U.S.A. since the Joppy fight without clearing the suspension with Nevada. In March of '99 Duran lost a ten round decision to Omar Gonzalez while weighing 178 lbs. On June 16, this year in Panama, Duran won a 12 round decision over Pat Lawlor in partial revenge for the 1991 bout in which Lawlor TKO'd him in the 6th. Duran, who is reputed to roll in groceries between fights, is listed as weighing 165 for his June 16 win.

  Jeff Connor, Marketing Director of Legends, has said consistently that if Duran doesn't pass the neurological tests required by Nevada, he will not fight at Legends.

    Duran passed his MRI in Miami two weeks ago. He also passed the full compliment of neurological diagnostic tests requested by Nevada and administered last week in San Pedro, CA by Richard S. Gluckman, M.D., the neurological consultant for the California Commission. In his comments on
the test results Dr. Gluckman wrote that at this time there is "nothing objective on the testing that was requested of us that would mandate him not fighting."  In Gluckman's opinion there is "no reason for him not to fight at this time."

Rumor has it that the Washington Department of Licensing Professional Athletics Division is looking for revenge after the Yakima tribe booted it off the reservation just months ago and founded their own tribal commission under the provisions of the federal McCain act. The Yakima Commission adopted the Washington state rules as a basis for operation but is expected to make some modifications in the near future. Washington, for example, allows a fighter to be licensed who has six straight losses. The tribe reportedly considers that number too high.

Word is that the Washington agency has been lobbying Greg Sirb, President of the Association of Boxing Commissions and Mark Ratner, Director of the Nevada Commission to prevent the Duran bout. Sirb and others have made contact with Jeff Connor of Legends. Connor says, "They're concerned about the safety of the participants, and that's nice. But they're not telling us anything we don't know, or anything we wouldn't be doing anyway."

Just a few years ago the Washington Department of Licensing permitted the
aging Iran Barkley to fight while under medical suspension from New York, and has fostered the vegetarian mismatch diets of perennial heavyweight contenders Joe Hipp and Tim Puller, among many others. The Washington Commission was roundly criticized in October of '99 for permitting the first sanctioned pro female vs male bout during a non-casino card in Seattle.

The agency currently regulates pro boxing at tribal casinos in Washington without any written contract with the tribes. Critics say the Department of Licensing has no legal authority to tax casino shows or to regulate any activities on tribal lands.

Meanwhile, the state of Washington is at war with the Yakima tribe for other reasons. State police seize truckloads of cigarettes en route to the Yakima reservation where they are sold without the state tax. Following the cigarette embargo, the Yakima banned the sale of all alcoholic beverages on the reservation, causing a persistent furor in surrounding communities and the State government. In July, Washington legislators were thwarted in a vigorous attempt to eradicate all tribal sovereignty in the state.

Jeff Connor of Legends insists that the Department of Licensing attempts to quash the Duran bout has nothing to do with the general warfare. Connor, who moonlights as a stand-up comic, asks "What do the people involved in boxing want most?"  He answers his own question. "They want to go to boxing matches for free. They want to sneak under the circus tent and see the show without paying." The whole hullabaloo, according to Connor, is just the state officials' bitterness over not getting free passes to Legends shows anymore.

More cynical types, such as this reporter, suspect that state governments try anything to throttle the success of tribal casinos which are direct business rivals, eating into state lottery profits. Tribal casinos have rescued the sport of boxing from death by strangulation by reviving the tradition of  club shows across the nation.

On the undercard for the Saturday, August 12 show:

In a ten round Women's International Boxing Federation Americas title bout at 126 lbs, Kelsey Jeffries (7-1) of Gilroy, CA  meets Cynthia Prouder (5-7) now fighting out of Freddie Roach's Wildcard Boxing Gym in Los Angeles.

In a lightweight six, rugged and undefeated Eleazar Contreras (9-0, 3 KO) of Bakersfield, CA steps in with Victor Mendoza (11-9) of Nogales, Mexico.

A six-round featherweight match pits Juan Carlos Martinez (9-13) of Guadalajara, Mex. vs Ramon Aragon (3-10) of Sinaloa, Mex.

A four round Jr. welterweight encounter is scheduled between Mike Lucero
(4-4-1) of Aloha, Oregon and Gerardo Pacheco (0-5) of Mexico.

Heavyweights Cody Gray (1-0) of Washington and  Ben Pearson (1-2-1) of
Idaho are scheduled for four.

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