The Virginia Athletic Commission has suspended veteran Washington boxer Irish Mike Baker indefinitely, pending a hearing on his failure to appear for a scheduled main bout at Crystal City Friday night.
The suspension, citing failure to honor a contract, was mailed yesterday to all Virginia cities in which bouts are held, said a commission secretary. A list of suspended Virginia boxers also is regularly sent to all other states, she said, effectively barring Baker from fighting anywhere else, at least until the matter is heard.
Baker, a middleweight, weighed in Friday afternoon for his scheduled bout at the Crystal City Hyatt Regency, but departed the hotel a few hours later. He left a note for promoter Ed Guido, saying he had food poisoning and was going to a hospital. He didn't return. Guido, left without a main event, said he had to refund more than $5,000 to patrons.
"Mike burned my show," said Guido. "He burned me."
Baker said yesterday he had been sick most of the week but didn't decide he was unable to fight until he vomited after the weigh-in.
However, by his own and his trainer's account, Baker also was upset that his opponent for the feature fight was an inexperienced, last-minute fill-in for David Carter, who had been ruled ineligible by the athletic commission because he'd recently been knocked out.
Despite any misgivings he may have had, however, Baker signed a contract at the weigh-in. He said yesterday he intended to fight regardless of the opponent until the illness forced him out.
Guido disputed the claim. He said Baker and his manager, Cliff Cummings, expected "a soft opponent. But the thing was, he (fill-in Lonnie Cuthens) wasn't soft. He was 6-foot-2 with a hungry look. I know Mike Baker and I know what he did -- he fell back on his excuses."
Baker, a veteran of more than 60 pro fights, including a title bout, maintained the suspension was unfair. "How can they suspend me when I was not fit to fight?" he asked.
He said the change of opponents bothered him, "but those details are irrelevant. The important thing is a fighter was sick and unable to participate. I wouldn't have been able to participate in a chess match. I did the right thing."
Baker said he went to Fairfax Hospital, but did not register after a nurse told him he would need to have his stomach pumped. The hospital has no record of his visit, but would have none if he simply made an inquiry.
Baker also said he was in contact with his personal physician, Dr. Donald Nolan, regarding the illness. Nolan said yesterday he talked on the phone with Baker Friday afternoon and that Baker described symptoms of gastroenteritis, but he said he didn't examine the fighter.
Baker's trainer, Adrian Davis, said Baker was sluggish in training Wednesday and Davis sent him home. He did not work out Thursday.
Cummings said that he and his fighter wanted Friday's bout to be a tuneup and did not regard Cuthens as an ideal opponent. The manager said they were working on a possible matchup in Atlantic City against either Mustafa Hamsho or Dwight Davidson, both highly ranked. Those negotiations, no doubt, will be held up by the suspension.