Monday, February 19, 2007

Some say Utah Rep. Greg Hughes' bill to reform boxing is self-serving

By Matt Canham

Conflict on Capitol Hill: Boxing vs. ultimate fighting

His knuckles bound in yellow tape, his face concealed by a black hoodie, Chris Fernandez bounces around the ring, taking his frustrations out on the shadows. His training is constant, and his focus is singular - he wants a title fight and to earn enough money boxing to take care of his three boys.

But his pursuit of this dream has dropped him into an ongoing political slugfest on Utah's Capitol Hill.

In one corner is Fernandez's manager, Greg Hughes, a well-positioned Republican lawmaker from Draper who is sponsoring a bill he hopes will lead to more fights and bigger crowds.

In the other corner are members of the state's Pete Suazo Athletic Commission and ultimate fighting enthusiasts, who look at the legislation as a threat and at Hughes as an opportunist with a big conflict of interest.

Despite the venomous political fight, those in both camps agree that Fernandez may be the best fighter Utah has seen in some time.

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