Neurologist Dr. Margaret Goodman, a former ringside physician, said the Nevada State Athletic Commission is “playing Russian roulette” with Jermain Taylor’s “life and future” by granting him a license two years after he suffered a brain bleed in a knockout loss to Arthur Abraham.
“I think it is unconscionable that Jermain was relicensed,’’ said Goodman, who did not attend the hearing two weeks ago in Las Vegas. “It is not about whether his brain has healed or how he looked in the gym.
“Jermain has shown a predisposition to cerebral hemorrhage, and irrespective of whether or not he bled, he has shown he cannot adequately handle a punch.’’
Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer said Goodman, a former chairman of the commission’s Medical Advisory Board, was not involved in the process.
“I’m not sure there’s anything she can add,’’ Kizer said.
Kizer said Taylor was cleared to fight after undergoing tests at the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, where a four-year study of boxers and MMA fighters has been underway since April.
“The doctors talked to him, the commissioners talked to him, as well as the Mayo Clinic,’’ Kizer said. “This is something that maybe five years ago, maybe even two years ago, there might not have been enough objective data. But medicine has advanced by leaps and bounds. It always does. So it’s a good thing. Obviously, it’s still a dangerous sport.’’
Taylor and advisor Al Haymon appeared in front of the Nevada Commission on Sept. 26 after the medical advisory board recommended by a 5-0 vote that he be licensed. Taylor also had a letter from Dr. Timothy Trainor, who supported the board’s recommendation.
Trainor, a consulting physician for the Nevada commission, wrote that Taylor, 33, underwent various tests, including brain scans. Results were normal, Trainor said.
“All of these evaluations have demonstrated him to be medically fit to compete in boxing, not discounting the risk of head and brain injury that all unarmed combatants take,’’ Trainor wrote. “… Therefore, I am confident that it is medically safe to grant Mr. Taylor a license to compete in boxing and agree that this combatant is medically cleared for unarmed combat.’’
Taylor (28-4-1, 17 knockouts), who fought Abraham at super middleweight but plans to move back down to middleweight, was found to have a brain bleed – reportedly mild – after Abraham knocked him out in the 12th round of an opening bout in Showtime’s 168-pound tournament Oct. 29, 2009 in Berlin. He has lost four of his last five fights, three by stoppage.
Goodman argued that Taylor’s licensing exposes the lack of objective guidelines in a process that differs from state to state.
“This is the perfect example of why a federal boxing commission is needed,’’ she said. “If the physicians and commission had reviewed all of Jermain’s performances, they would not have been able to come to this conclusion. He was a wonderful boxer and is still a tremendous athlete.
“How can anyone, especially a commission, claim they care about acting in a fighter’s best interest, then license Jermain? Sure, you can match him light – that is what will happen. But if he hopefully never bleeds again, the accumulation of any punches to his head are a risk for his eventual retirement.’’