A federal investigation of one of boxing’s top promoters has uncovered evidence that thousands of professional bouts have been essentially rigged through fraudulent mismatches, authorities say.
Law enforcement sources and others familiar with the 2-year-old FBI investigation say authorities have obtained evidence that bouts featuring second-rate boxers using false names have become commonplace in at least eight states, including California and Nevada, reports the Los Angeles Times. The scheme almost always relies on the natural outcome of deliberate mismatches rather than on fighters taking dives, they said.
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. Authorities say there may be grounds for alleging that television broadcasters or other corporations were defrauded by sponsoring events that were more theater than sport.
Thus far, the investigation is focused on the Las Vegas-based Top Rank boxing organization. Its owner, Bob Arum, and rival Don King are the sport’s most powerful promoters. Agents served search warrants on Arum’s headquarters Jan. 6, confiscating more than 100 boxes of company records, including videotapes of Top Rank fights.
Authorities said they had evidence that the boxing scandal stretches from Nevada and California to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Utah and Michigan. The suspect fights, authorities said, involved a huge pool of young, desperate, unskilled boxers – mostly from Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America – who were put into the ring with opponents they had no hope of defeating.