NSAC on ref’s claim: Ortiz, Lawson cleared to fight

Boxing

The Nevada State Athletic Commission said Monday that both contestants in Vergil Ortiz’s first-round TKO of Fredrick Lawson on Saturday “were cleared by medical experts to compete without restrictions.”

The statement comes one day after referee Tony Weeks claimed in a Facebook post that an aneurysm was discovered in a prefight brain scan. He didn’t specify which fighter he was referring to, but the post was accompanied by a photo of Ortiz punching Lawson.

Weeks was widely criticized for his decision to stop Saturday’s fight in the opening round. The veteran official did so after Ortiz buckled Lawson, a 34-year-old journeyman, with a jab.

Ortiz (20-0, 20 KOs) threw a flurry of punches with Lawson on the ropes when Weeks stepped in. Ghana’s Lawson (30-4, 22 KOs) immediately protested, and the Las Vegas crowd booed the decision.

“The health and safety of the unarmed combatants that compete in the State are paramount to the Commission,” the NSAC said in a statement provided to ESPN. “All contestants in the event were subject to full medical examinations.”

Lawson’s prefight brain scans were examined by a neurosurgeon, a source told ESPN, before he was cleared to compete. Golden Boy, the promoter of the event, said, “Fredrick Lawson was cleared by a Nevada State Athletic Commission sanctioned doctor to fight on Saturday night.”

Ortiz, who was a major betting favorite, said Weeks saved Lawson. This was Weeks’ second questionable stoppage in the past eight months.

Weeks, a veteran referee of 879 bouts, was also the third man in the ring for Rolly Romero’s highly controversial TKO win over Ismael Barroso in May. Similarly, Weeks stopped that contest when it appeared the fighter wasn’t in serious danger.

Romero was down on two of the three scorecards at the time of the ninth-round TKO victory, which won him the WBA junior welterweight title.

In November 2022, Weeks presided over David Morrell’s 12th-round TKO victory over Aidos Yerbossynuly. Yerbossynuly was placed in a medically induced coma due to injuries suffered in the bout.

“The Commission and its Executive Director will continue its ongoing practice of reviewing its official’s performance during and after an event,” the Nevada commission said in its statement Monday.

Weeks, in his Facebook post, claimed that after the aneurysm was discovered “they did a test again and the same aneurysm came up. Another doctor was brought in and gave him the same examination and he tested negative for the aneurysm, so they cleared him to fight.”

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