By Thomas Hauser


JIMMY CANNON famously wrote, “Boxing is the red light district of professional sports.” If that’s the case, then BoxRec.com is the police blotter.

Boxrec.com is boxing’s indispensable website. Promoters, managers, trainers, fighters, matchmakers and fans visit it to view more than a million pages a day. Athletic commissions around the world rely on BoxRec to track fighter’s records, suspensions, and the like. It’s the closest thing to an official record-keeper that boxing has.

John Sheppard created Boxrec.com and oversees the site. He understands the importance of what he does and does his best to maintain the integrity of the process. But “integrity” and boxing don’t always go hand and hand. Recently, Sheppard told Boxing News about some of the issues that he has dealt with:

*          A Hungarian fighter emailed Sheppard to complain that he had agreed to move around the ring and lose a fight on points. But his British opponent hit him very hard in the mouth which was “not part of the deal.” His tooth was now loose and, unless he received 500 Euros for a dentist, he wanted BoxRec to invalidate the result.

*          A Mexican boxer emailed Boxrec to complain that he had retired five years earlier but agreed with a local promoter that, for a fee, the promoter could use his name to record victories for fighters that the promoter was building. The agreement held up for six fictitious fights. Then the promoter stopped paying the fighter but continued the phony record-building practice. Adding insult to injury, the fighter complained that some of the fictitious losses on his record were against complete bums and this was very humiliating for him.

*          An American boxer complained that he had been “defrauded” in Mexico after paying a promoter to secure a win on the promoter’s fight card. Initially, everything went as planned. The opponent had minimal boxing skills, made no effort, and took punches for four rounds. But when the result was announced, the judges gave the verdict to the opponent. The boxer complained to the promoter, who professed astonishment and said he would speak to the commission on the fighter’s behalf. Subsequently, he reported back to the fighter that, with great skill and diplomacy, he’d persuaded the commission to subject the judges’ decision to an expert review. But the review would cost the fighter four hundred dollars.

*          An American boxer emailed BoxRec.com to say that he was disputing a bout he’d lost in Mexico. The fighter wrote that, at the weigh-in, he was four inches taller than his opponent. But when he entered the ring on fight night, the man he was facing was two inches taller than he was.

*          Another American boxer learned when he arrived in the Dominican Republic that he was expected to pay one hundred dollars for a blood test. He reluctantly agreed and joined the queue, only to observe the “nurse” taking the samples was using the same needle for each boxer. He then refused the test, his fight was cancelled, and he didn’t get paid.

*          A Mexican commission submitted an event report to BoxRec that included a fight lost by “Jose Lopez.” There are more than a hundred “Jose Lopezes” in BoxRec’s database, so Sheppard asked for clarification as to which Jose Lopez it was. “We don’t know,” the commission responded. “But he lost, it doesn’t matter, just pick one.”

*          A new commissioner submitted her first report to BoxRec and Sheppard noted that, in one of the bouts, both boxers were reported as winning. He telephoned the commissioner to clarify the result and she told him that a more experienced commissioner had spent a half-hour training her on fight night. One of the questions she’d asked was, “How do I know who won?” The more experienced commissioner told her, “That’s easy. The referee will raise the winner’s hand.” He didn’t teach her about draws.

*          One of BoxRec’s editors attended a small club card in Germany where the promoter’s main ticket seller was knocked out in the seventh round. Then BoxRec received a report from the supervising commission stating that the ticket seller had won the bout. Sheppard contacted the commission and asked them to double-check the result, after which someone from the commission telephoned back and confirmed that the ticket seller had won. Sheppard asked how he knew that was so and was told that the commission hadn’t actually sent a representative to the event but that the promoter had assured the commission that the ticket seller won.

*          BoxRec.com was receiving reports from a commission regarding fights that supposedly took place in a small town in Eastern Europe. The reports raised eyebrows. Each fight card featured multiple “professional losers” who were recording wins against unknown fighters who were ostensibly making their pro debut. Sensing that this might be part of a scheme to make the “professional losers” more credible as opponents, BoxRec sent an editor to the venue to observe the next purportedly-scheduled fight card. The building was locked and there were no fights. But on the following Monday morning, the commission sent “event results” to BoxRec with all of the “professional losers” winning.

*          A BoxRec.com editor who attended a fight card arrived early and stayed until the maintenance crew began dismantling the ring when the fights were over. His report to BoxRec listed the results for six fights. Then the supervising commission sent the results for seven fights to BoxRec with corroborating photos for each bout. Why the discrepancy? The editor told Sheppard that, at the end of the evening, two boxers entered the ring, were sprayed with water, had their picture taken, and then left the ring.

“We require varying levels of corroboration from the commissions we deal with,” Sheppard says in closing. “These relationships vary from implicit trust to complete distrust.”


Thomas Hauser’s email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His most recent book – The Universal Sport: Two Years Inside Boxing – was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. In 2019, Hauser was selected for boxing’s highest honor – induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.