Doctor Flip Homanski

    Some of boxing's most important decisions are made by Dr. Flip Homansky. As 
the ringside physician for the Nevada State Athletic Commission, he is the man who 
advises the referee about whether a fighter can continue. Not a single referee has 
ever disagreed with his professional opinion. His decisions are made with careers 
and millions of dollars hanging in the balance, yet, he is a doctor first. Flip 
and Boxingwise's, Cornerman discussed his duties and his view on what the game 
needs.




Dr. Homansky: You know, it is an inherently dangerous sport and there is no way
              you can make it 100% safe, but I know I can have a positive role in 
              making it as safe as possible. So, that's enough for me. Boxing is 
              going to take place whether it's at Caesar's Palace in Vegas or if 
              it is in a back alley somewhere or a barge out in the ocean. So it 
              is better to try to make the situation safe as possible for these 
              guys. So I don't have any problem, morally or ethically.

The Cornerman: Can you run down the criteria you use in deciding whether to stop 
               a fight.

Dr. Homansky: Actually, lacerations and cuts are pretty simple. It is actually 
              tougher situation when a fighter is taking too many head blows. I'll 
              divide into cuts and head blows; let me talk about cuts first. You 
              know, I see cuts in the emergency room and blood doesn't worry me. 
              A lot of times things look a lot worse than they are. Sometimes 
              there's not a lot of blood but the cut is more dangerous. When I 
              approach a fighter that has got a cut, it is obvious to me whether 
              this was the first time he's seen his own blood or not. Whether the 
              sight of his own blood is a real problem for him—that's #1.

The Cornerman: Does that factor in to your decision?

Dr. Homansky: No question. For Arturo Gatti it is just not going to be factor. For 
              a 19-year-old kid in his second fight, who has never seen his own 
              blood-yeah, that's going to factor in. If a kid changes the way he 
              fights because of cut, that's a concern to me. If he starts bringing 
              his gloves up to protect that cut but really isn't protecting his 
              head—that's a problem. If he's taking more punishment just to protect 
              the cut—that's a problem and the obvious thing—if the cut starts to 
              obstruct his vision. Most cuts really don't, the question is whether 
              there is a cosmetic problem or a if there's a physiologic problem. 
              There are certain cuts especially around the orbital that you can't 
              allow to extend. You can't let them get too deep, you can't let them 
              go over a certain line because of where the nerves lie. Those are 
              all factors that come into play.

The Cornerman: Can you tell all that in the amount of time you get in between 
               rounds?

Dr. Homansky: You know, I can't say you can tell 100% of the time, but you better 
              be able to tell pretty close to it.

The Cornerman: Does a permanent cosmetic scar cause a problem?

Dr. Homansky: There are very few cuts that will cause a permanent cosmetic problem 
              with a good plastic surgeon and with fixing it at 2 or 3 levels. 
              Cuts around the lip can be cosmetically a big problem and leave a 
              scar. Those are the cuts I'm more prone to stop.

The Cornerman: How about when a fighter is not cut but taking a lot of blows?

Dr. Homansky: I stay in tune now and watch very closely, when a kid is not winning 
              a fight, when he is losing every round—and when he's taking a lot 
              of punishment. Even if he hasn't been down you need to look at the 
              big picture and decide how much more punishment he can take. It is 
              a tough decision.

The Cornerman: When you stop a fight under those circumstances or, for that matter, 
               under any circumstances do the boos bother you?

Dr. Homansky: No. You know, in that moment you don't even hear it—you really don't 
              even hear the crowd. The boos are irrelevant.

The Cornerman: Do you have a favorite referee?

Dr. Homansky: I thought Mitch Halpern did as good a job with Holyfield/Lewis that 
              could possibly be done. I thought he was just superb. Richard Steele 
              gets a lot of flack from the fans but if I had a son who was boxing; 
              I would want Richard as a referee.

The Cornerman: I've always wanted your opinion on Richard's controversial stoppage 
               in the Taylor/Chavez fight. Should he have stopped it?

Dr. Homansky: Without question. Meldrick Taylor's eye socket, his orbital rim was 
              fractured and he had swallowed a lot of blood. He was peeing blood. 
              I mean, Meldrick was never the same. Whether 1 or 2 or 3 more punches 
              would have made a difference? I'm glad we don't have to know that.

The Cornerman: Speaking of safety, what would you do to minimize the danger in 
               boxing if you had unlimited resources

Dr. Homansky: I strongly believe that fighters as they age are asking for trouble. 
              I addressed the National Association of Attorney Generals when they 
              had hearings a year ago in New York. One of my proposals and no one 
              else seemed to agree, and it didn't get very far was that on a 
              fighters 40th birthday he loses his license to box, all fighters. I 
              would allow no one over the age of 40 to fight and anyone over the 
              age of 36, and this is how it is in our state, would have to go 
              through extensive testing. I understand age discrimination laws and 
              I understand exceptions like Foreman but I firmly believe that we 
              are asking for problems both for acute type injuries and chronic 
              type injuries. I also think another significant danger in boxing is 
              the weight loss and dehydration. I would be very strict with the 
              amount of weight that could be lost in preparation for a fight. 
              Proposals are out there for percentage weight losses seven days 
              before a title fight and I think those should be implemented. Boxing 
              is never going to be a safe sport but when the boxers themselves 
              don't train properly and don't take care of themselves it is going 
              to hurt all of us. If the funds were available it is a wonderful 
              opportunity to do a lot of studies. The studies would start with 
              some of the more sophisticated tests we have on the brain. You know, 
              it was a real breakthrough when we got cat scans. We fought at that 
              time over the costs of cat scans and it became obvious how important 
              they were. They are the right thing to do AFTER a fight but they are 
              not the right thing to do in terms of screening. Instead, we're 
              talking about MRI's, MRA's, very sophisticated new types of brain 
              testing that are extremely expensive but I think we need to look in 
              terms of what we can do better to screen this so kids don't end up 
              with problems. So, you know, a lot of things boil down to money but 
              I'd look at developing funding from every ticket sold in America 
              for brain research. You would need a baseline so when a kid turns 
              pro he needs a full battery of tests—problem is that kids turning 
              pro are the ones that can least afford it. So what you will need to 
              do is work out deals in the fight centers where it can be done at 
              a certain cost. There would have to be a central clearinghouse for 
              these studies so that a kid who fights in New Jersey and then in 
              Las Vegas will not have to have the tests repeated. Instead, I could 
              call and get his baseline EKG and brainwave study. We will need a 
              database; we need funds so we can do the right screening exams on 
              these kids. The promoters get scared when we even start talking about 
              this stuff. They want to help the kids but they just see dollar signs.