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Volume 21 No. 1
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Plugged In: Francisco Aguilar, Nevada Athletic Commission

Las Vegas attorney Francisco Aguilar was elected chairman of the Nevada Athletic Commission on Halloween of last year. Two months later, he accepted the resignation of Keith Kizer, who had served as executive director of the group for seven years. As a result, Aguilar, whose day job is as general counsel of Agassi Graf Holdings, has been more engaged in the everyday workings of the nation’s premier combat sports commission than he could have expected.

We have an opportunity to play a significant role in the development of the sport, and I’m thankful to have the opportunity.

On the role of the modern commission: The biggest responsibility a commission has in combat sports is the health and safety of the fighter. It’s ensuring that the fighter is healthy enough to fight … and if they’re a new fighter, determining if they’re ready to go professional. And the other responsibility today is the drug testing. I think that’s where commissions have an opportunity to really have an impact on the future of the sport. We’re coming into new opportunities to conduct drug testing. Commissions really need to step up their responsibility and take a look at those options and take them seriously.

On the costs involved: If you look at Nevada, off our 6 percent ticket tax, we produce about $5.5 million for the state. However, through our appropriation from the state legislature and the governor, we fund the office with less than $500,000; only $500,000 comes back to the commission. The cost to do drug testing is substantial. I think we have an obligation as a state to figure out how we implement a [testing] program that can maintain itself into the future.

Adhering to rules vs. securing events: A promoter can always shop a fight; I get it. But Nevada is going to hold true to its rules. We’re not going to bend for somebody that wants something that we don’t think is in the best interest of the fighter from a health and safety standpoint. I understand the economic development discussion. This city thrives off major events. We’re a part of that formula. However, we’re not going to jeopardize anyone’s safety for that benefit.

On recent criticism of Nevada boxing judges: It’s our responsibility to ensure that we have the appropriate human capital in those seats doing the best job that they can, and we can’t expect the best out of them if we’re not going to provide them the training and resources to learn more than they know. … We know what our obligations are and we want to do what’s right and we’re going to do what’s right.

On becoming chairman: I never anticipated that I would engage at the level I’ve engaged as a chairman, but I’ve also enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about the sport, from what happens on a daily basis in the office to what the fighters’ concerns are to what our human capital faces — from the inspectors to the referees to the judges to the doctors.

— Bill King