Everlast Responds to Terence Crawford’s Defective Gloves & Team Avanesyan Appeals

Editorial By Robert Brizel, Real Combat Media Head Boxing Correspondent

Lincoln, Nebraska (December 16th, 2022)– Terence Crawford’s defective Everlast boxing gloves before the sixth round in his recent WBO World Welterweight titular defense against challenger David Avanesyan at the CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska, a bout result now officially being appealed for related reasons by Team Avanesyan.

According to a statement release by the Everlast Company on December 14, 2022, “During the development cycle of the custom fight gloves used in Crawford versus Avanesyan (world title bout in Omaha), a batch of defective leather was used in production resulting in a malfunction during the competition. In such cases, Everlast follows proper protocol by providing back up competition pairs to be replaced pending a decision by the sanctioning body overseeing the fight. A stoppage (during the bout) was called to review the equipment malfunction and the commission deemed the equipment was still suitable for competition. No foul play was at hand, nor was there any tampering of the product on behalf of (done by) Terence Crawford and his camp.”

Before the sixth round of the Crawford versus Avanesyan bout in progress, the referee paused the action so Nebraska Athletic Commission officials and World Boxing Organisation bout supervisor Russell Mora could inspect Crawford’s gloves after both busted open revealing padding. On Crawford’s right glove, the right thumb appeared to be exposed at the seams. The discussion between the ringside officials ended with the agreement the bout would proceed with the damaged gloves for one more round before switching out the gloves to Crawford’s second approved between rounds six and seven.

Normal practice is for commission officials to approve and seal two pairs per combatant. Crawford was allowed to proceed with the damaged gloves. At 2:14 of round six, Crawford scored a knockout of Avanesyan with a combination left uppercut followed by a right hook.

Neil Marsh, Avanesyan’s manager, wrote to NAC deputy athletic commissioner Brian Dunn in an official letter “I have serious concerns over the issue that preceded the stoppage, specifically relating to a clear and obvious defect in Terence Crawford’s glove(s) and the origination of the same, which do not appear to be the exact gloves presented at the rules meeting. I am sure you are aware that prior to the knockout both the Referee and Commission raised concern that the stuffing was visibly coming out of a split glove(s) of Terence Crawford which was sufficient for a ‘Time-out’ to be called. The Referee correctly called the time-out, and consulted the Commission, and (as did) I assume the WBO Supervisor (Russell Mora) who inspected the defective Glove(s), before the Referee stated ‘Let this round go then go and (then) get another one set of gloves’.

Allowing the fight to continue was, in my view, both irresponsible and negligent, and such action placed Avanesyan in additional danger (of getting hit by the damaged gloves with exposed padding). According to Chapter 4, Rules 006.01 and 006.02 (Gloves) of the NAC Rules and Regulations, all gloves must be furnished by the promoter and in new or in good condition, and also (in) whole, clean and sanitary condition.

The third and final part of the rule states that all gloves must be examined and approved by a commission official. If any padding is found to be insufficient, or the glove are otherwise imperfect, or ill-fitting, the gloves must be replaced before the bout can begin (or be allowed to continue). Rule 006.04 stipulates that if a glove breaks or a string becomes untied during the bout, the referee will instruct the timekeeper to take a time-out while the glove issue is being corrected. All gloves must be checked by a commission official prior to the start of the bouts. Any snagged, torn, or unfit gloves will not be approved for competition (either before, or during the bout if such occurs).

Whilst we reserve our rights in respect of Everlast’s quality control in this matter, from the outset we wish to state, at this stage, there is no inference or indeed evidence to suggest (Terence) Crawford’s team may have tampered with the gloves in any way or at any stage. But clearly questions must be asked, and matters addressed, as it is our view that the outcome of this contest was, or could have been, influenced by defective gloves being permitted to be used, particularly in round six (after the defective gloves were acknowledged and examined). We (Team Avanesyan) wish to investigate the timeline and process that was followed from the presentation of these gloves at the WBO Rules Meeting (before the titular bout) to the moment during the fight just before the knockout where the Referee and the commission both raised concern as to the apparent fault in Crawford’s Gloves.”

In this reporter’s view, all of this dialogue leads back to two particular bouts. The first bout of reference is when Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) fought Sir Henry Cooper for the first time at Wembley Stadium on June 18, 2963, in the United Kingdom. Watch Clay’s hands from around the eleven minutes mark on untouched archival footage. You will clearly see one of his gloves had ripped, and on at least two occasions you can see the stuffing of the glove hanging out.

Ali’s trainer in the corner, Angelo Dundee, did cut not the glove. What Dundee did was, after Ali was knocked down near the end of round four and got up after a three-second count, bring the damaged glove to the attention of referee Tommy Little, and yes, he did so to give the apparently dazed Ali a few precious extra seconds for Clay to recover from the knockdown. Dundee gained a total of six seconds, and added some illegal smelling salts to revive Ali. That was it. Referee Tommy Little went to the ring sidings to ask about replacement gloves, he was told there were none. There was just a simple question, from the referee to the official’s ringside. The referee immediately ordered a fresh set of gloves to be delivered from the dressing room areas to the ringside. ‘Do we have spare gloves?’ asked referee Little, and the answer was a responding ‘no’. Clay boxed on with the ripped glove, and stopped a bloody-eyed Cooper, bleeding from eye cuts profusely, at 2:15 of the fifth round, the next rounds, earning the boos from the Wembley crowd in attendance.

In analytic historical retrospect, when referee Tommy Little knew a new pair of gloves could not be produced for the young Muhammad Ali in a timely fashion, the referee had to make a judgment call as to whether the lesser of the evils was to let Ali fight on with the damaged glove, or to allow a much longer break when would benefit Ali. Because of the unique circumstance that Cooper had seriously hurt Ali at the close of the preceding round, the referee decided a delay would be more unfair in taking away what was probably Cooper’s only realistic opportunity to win the fight than would the small hazard of the split glove. So Ali’s glove was not in fact replaced, and the referee ordered the fight to resume.

The big question nearly sixty years later is, did the split glove actually damage Cooper’s eye and face? The answer is it at least contributed to it. If the referee had delayed the bout for Ali to get fresh gloves, Ali would have had more time to be fully recovered, to Cooper’s detriment, but at least Cooper could not be damaged or incur further damage to his face by the defective glove with loose padding. Dundee had reached inside of Ali’s defective glove between rounds in the corner and pulled some of the padding out. As a matter of principle, the glove should have been changed immediately upon that, and Ali could have even been disqualified. As a footnote to the Ali-Cooper fight and the torn glove controversy surrounding Ali, the rules of boxing were altered to require each fighter’s corner to keep a spare pair of gloves at ringside, to reduce any delay if they should happen to have to be changed during the fight.

Unfortunately, this did not happen between Crawford and Avanesyan. Only Crawford could benefit from a glove with exposed padding, because Avanesyan could get hit by exposed hand tape directly. In Ali-Cooper I, if Ali gets extra time to change the glove, Ali benefits and wins by virtue of unscheduled recuperation time. In Ali-Cooper I, since Ali’s glove was not changed, Ali was able to hit Cooper in the face with the damaged glove and earn a rapid bloody stoppage, and Ali exploited that advantage.

The rules surrounding the immediate replacement of damaged gloves with a spare set must be enforced. On June 16, 1983 at Madison Square Garden, middleweights Irish Billy Collins Jr. and Luis Resto fought a ten-rounder. What happened was shocking. Resto and his trainer, Panama Lewis, removed the padding from Resto’s gloves and filled them with plaster so his punches would deal more damage. That’s exactly what happened, and how they cheated their way to a 10-round decision win for the 20-8-2 Resto over the 14-0 Collins. Resto’s illegal gloves damaged Collins Jr. so severely that his vision was permanently blurred. Collins Jr. tore his iris during the fight, and he was told he would never fight again. Collins died nine months later, on March 6, 1984, in Tennessee, in a car accident, and given his eye injuries, neither the fatal accident nor his emotional spiral downward was a surprise.

The Resto-Collins bout result was changed to a no-contest. In October 1986, Lewis and Resto were both put on trial and found guilty of assault, criminal possession of a weapon (Resto’s hands) and conspiracy. Lewis was also found guilty of tampering with a sports contest. Prosecutors charged that since Lewis had deliberately removed the padding from Resto’s gloves, the bout with Collins amounted to an illegal assault. Lewis was sentenced to six years in prison, Resto to three years. Lewis was released from prison in 1990 and Resto in 1989. Prosecutors argued the glove tampering plot was centered around a large amount of money bet on Resto by a third party, who had met with Lewis prior to the fight. Resto served two and a half years in prison. Both Lewis and Resto were banned from boxing for life. However, Resto had his corner license restored in 2001.

What Lewis and Resto did to Collins is the sort of thing boxing writers like myself never forgive and never forget. The moral of the story is the damage incurred by fighters like Avanesyan, Cooper and Collins mandate when you have a damaged glove, you have to immediately replace it despite the loss of immediate fight time. This is because the risk of immediate and or personal injury to the fighter competing against the other fighter with damaged gloves is too great a risk, and the results of Ali versus Cooper I, Collins versus Resto, and Crawford versus Avanesyan prove it. To err is human. To err on the side of caution, more prudent, in this reporter’s view.