Perhaps boxing promoter Don King's catchphrase should be amended from "Only in America" to "Only in the IBF."
Lindsey Tucker, championships chairman for the IBF, said Tuesday a three-member panel selected by the sanctioning body decided in favor of stripping Reno's "Koncrete" Kelvin Davis of his cruiserweight title but that there was a possibility Davis could fight for the vacant crown in his next fight.
The 26-year-old Davis, 21-2-1, with 16 knockouts, became Northern Nevada's first world champion when he claimed the vacant title with an eight-round TKO over Ezra Sellers in Miami on May 1, 2004.
Davis, who had declared bankruptcy on Dec. 15, 2004, was scheduled to defend his belt against top-rated O'Neil Bell in St. Louis on Feb. 5, but claimed that his promoter, King, prevented him from doing so.
In his appeal, filed on Feb. 17, Davis said that although he weighed in for the fight on Feb. 4, King would not let him fight after a closed-door meeting in which he claims he was told to sign a multi-year, multi-fight contract or leave the building.
The IBF stripped Davis of his belt Feb. 9. The appeal was presented before the panel, selected by IBF president Marian Muhammad, Feb. 26 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas by Davis' attorney Mark Schopper, of the Nevada law firm Gilbert & Schopper, LLP.
Tucker said the panel, comprised of IBF associate members Valerie Dorsett, Samuel Viruet and Ernest Sharif, announced their decision Tuesday.
"The panel ruled in favor of the IBF vacating (Davis') title based on the five points presented by Davis' attorney Mark Schopper," Tucker said. "One of the points was that we didn't conduct an investigation.
"We had letters, faxes and spoke to (Kelvin and his brother/trainer/manager Kelly Davis) and their bankruptcy attorney. We didn't need to investigate. They declared bankruptcy to get of out of their contract (with King)."
Tucker said the panel ruled that Davis also violated Rule 4 of the IBF's by-laws.
"We can take the title if the champion doesn't have a good reason for not defending it," Tucker said of the rule. Tucker added that Dorsett, Viruet and Sharif are attorneys and that Viruet and Sharif are also referees.
After Davis was stripped, the IBF ordered Bell and No. 3 contender Dale Brown to fight for the vacant crown. But in a bizarre twist Tuesday, Tucker said two of the panelists recommended that Davis, who had been dropped to No. 11, be allowed to fight Bell for the vacant belt.
Bell, 23-1-1, with 22 knockouts, stopped Davis in 11 rounds on May 23, 2003, in their first meeting, but refused to fight Davis again after a similar IBF panel ruled in favor of Davis, who had filed an appeal claiming he was hit by Bell after he'd been knocked down.
Davis subsequently defeated Louis Azille in a title-elimination match on Oct. 24, 2003, before he went on stop Sellers.
"My position is that either he's (Davis') is right or we're right," Tucker said. "Now it (the Davis-Bell fight) depends on what Bell and Brown decide."
Neither executive director Jessie Robinson nor general counsel Carl Berry of Warrior's Boxing, which promotes Bell and Brown, could be reached for comment Tuesday, but Tucker said the matter is up to the fighters, not the IBF.
Tucker said Bell and Brown could announce their decision as early as today. When they do, Tucker said, the IBF's board of directors would go along with it and announce an appropriate fight date for the to-be-determined fighters.
The Nevada Appeal was unsuccessful Tuesday in contacting Davis or Schopper for their reaction to the IBF's ruling.