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Monday, April 13, 2009
Edwin Valero: Would an Exception Knock Out the Rule?

Whether it Would be Smart for New York State to Lift Its Medical Suspension of Lightweight Champion & Knockout Artist Edwin Valero

In 2004, undefeated Venezuelan junior lightweight prospect Edwin (El Inca) Valero applied for a license to box in New York State after scoring 12 first round knockouts in his first 12 professional fights. On the strength of his knockout streak, Valero was then becoming one of the hottest prospects in boxing. Valero, however, had a skeleton in his closet: a head injury sustained in a 2001 motorcycle accident. Evidence of Valero’s head injury went undiscovered, or was otherwise ignored, before three bouts in California and nine in his native Venezuela, but was revealed during a MRI that he underwent for his New York State license. Valero was subsequently denied a license to box in New York and, until April 4, 2009, had not fought again in the United States. Undeterred, Valero continued his boxing career in both Japan and South America, becoming an international sensation in the process.

At the end of March, Valero, now 25-0 (25 KOs) and a junior lightweight and lightweight world champion, was granted a license to box in Texas in advance of his April 4, 2009 bout with Antonio Pitalua for the vacant World Boxing Council lightweight title. That Texas granted Valero a license was not entirely surprising to boxing cognoscenti as Texas has a history of thumbing its nose at the suspensions of other states’ commissions. Indeed, Texas was the same state that granted former undisputed heavyweight and cruiserweight champion Evander Holyfield a license to box after New York State placed him on administrative suspension in 2005. However, in light of Texas’ decision to license Valero, the question is begged as to whether a boxer such as Valero, who at age 27 is an undefeated two division world champion and seemingly entering into the prime of his career following a second round stoppage of Pitalua, should have the denial of his license reversed by the New York State Athletic Commission (hereinafter the “Commission”) or otherwise be permitted to box in the United States by other influential commissions...

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Paul Stuart Haberman, Esq. is an attorney at the New York law firm of Heidell, Pittoni, Murphy & Bach, LLP. He is also a New York State licensed boxing manager and the Chairman of the Sports Law Committee of the New York County Lawyers Association. ©


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