Nevada commission threatens Matchroom's promoter's license over Chavez Jr.'s skipped drug test

Kevin IoleCombat columnist
Promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing USA (C) poses with Daniel Jacobs (L) and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (R) on Nov. 8 in Los Angeles. (Courtesy Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA)
Promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing USA (C) poses with Daniel Jacobs (L) and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (R) on Nov. 8 in Los Angeles. (Courtesy Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA)

The executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission threatened disciplinary action against a leading boxing promoter if his company goes forward with a bout on Dec. 20 in Phoenix involving Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., after Chavez refused to submit to a request for an anti-doping test from the commission on Oct. 24.

Matchroom Sport, headed by Eddie Hearn, was planning to put a super middleweight bout between Chavez Jr., the son of the Hall of Famer Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., on Dec. 20 in Las Vegas against Daniel Jacobs in a bout that would be streamed on DAZN.

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An anti-doping collection agent showed up unannounced on Oct. 24 at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, California, where Chavez was training under Freddie Roach. Chavez refused to submit to the test and left the gym without providing a sample.

Multiple sources told Yahoo Sports that this is not the first time Chavez has refused to submit to an anti-doping test and he has done so in other states, as well.

On Friday, Nov. 8, Matchroom announced at a news conference in Los Angeles that Jacobs-Chavez would not be in Las Vegas and instead would be in Phoenix. The federal Muhammad Ali Act does not permit fighters who are suspended in one state from competing in another.

Nevada commission executive director Bob Bennett considers Chavez’s refusal to submit to the test as an anti-doping violation and he was suspended on Oct. 30, with a hearing scheduled for Nov. 18. But because Matchroom opted to proceed with the bout in Arizona, Nevada is threatening its promoter’s license.

In a letter to Hearn that was obtained exclusively by Yahoo Sports, Bennett wrote:

“Based on Matchroom’s ongoing dealings with Chavez while he has been on suspension, it is apparent that Matchroom has violated Nevada law. Further, given that Chavez’s suspension is based on his refusal to submit to a drug test requested by the NSAC, and thus an anti-doping violation, it is apparent that the event scheduled to occur in Arizona on December 20, 2019, is in violation of the Ali Act. As such, Matchroom is promoting an event that potentially violates federal law.

“On November 7, 2019, I contacted Shaun Palmer, Matchroom’s Head of Legal and Business Affairs, and informed him of the legal issues with Matchroom’s dealings with Chavez discussed herein. I further informed him of the potential consequences should Matchroom not take corrective measures to comply with Nevada law, including that a violation of Nevada law would be considered by the NSAC when deciding whether to renew Matchroom’s promoter’s license. As of the date of this letter, the matters at issue have not been resolved.

“Given the above, grounds exist to bring disciplinary action against Matchroom before the NSAC. If Matchroom does not take the necessary action to come into compliance with Nevada law, our office will consider its options.”

Hearn confirmed to Yahoo Sports that he had received the letter, but declined to comment.

“We are in the process of reviewing it,” Hearn said.

Chavez has had a checkered anti-doping history, and tested positive twice, once for a diuretic and again for marijuana. Because he’s considered unreliable by so many within the boxing industry, Matchroom has taken the unusual step of hiring Gabriel Rosado as a backup. Rosado is training as if he’ll fight Jacobs and will be used if Chavez can’t fight for any reason.

Keith Connolly, Jacobs’ manager, said in a statement provided to Yahoo Sports that he’s just concerned that Jacobs gets to fight as scheduled on Dec. 20.

“Danny is contracted to fight December 20 on DAZN either way, so he will be focused no matter who the opponent is,” Connolly said in his statement. “He is excited to make his debut at 168 and put the entire super middleweight division on notice. We will leave all legal matters and logistics up to our promoter and Danny will remain focused on fighting.”

Yahoo Sports was unable to reach Chavez for comment.

Promoter’s licenses are highly valuable, particularly in Nevada where so many big-money matches take place, and promoters are loathe to give them up once they receive them. Hearn would not be barred from promoting anywhere else, however, simply because Nevada may choose not to license him. Other jurisdictions would be able to consider that information either when licensing him or when looking at license renewal applications.

Eddie Hearn's Matchroom Boxing is one of the most powerful and successful in the sport, buoyed in large part by its affiliation with the streaming service DAZN. (Stephen McCarthy/Getty Images)
Eddie Hearn's Matchroom Boxing is one of the most powerful and successful in the sport, buoyed in large part by its affiliation with the streaming service DAZN. (Stephen McCarthy/Getty Images)

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