Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez is 2015's Fighter of the Year

I watched the “fight of the century” on television in Nicaragua’s capital, Managua.  Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao stunk up the Las Vegas joint; Floyd “Pretty Boy” Mayweather did as well.  Not far from where I watched the disappointment of the century that night on May 2, 2015, must have been Román “Chocolatito” González.  I picture him sparring. 

A few months later, Mayweather retired, vacating his position as the #1 pound-for-pound boxer in the world.  González immediately took the top position on most lists of significance, including The Ring and ESPN.  González had just demolished former champion Édgar Sosa over two rounds in as dominant a performance as a civilized person should want to see.

Yet, as 2015 closes, other boxers are being named Fighter of the Year.  In particular (see here), Mayweather received the accolade from Sports Illustrated and Round By Round Boxing (Fans); Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez from and Bleacher Report; and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin from Round By Round Boxing (Staff),, Harold Lederman (HBO Boxing), Boxing News Readers, and World Boxing News Readers. 

Thankfully Univision has ensured that González is not denied completely. 

Álvarez and Golovkin had great years—don’t get me wrong.  So did Tyson Fury.  But what González accomplished is magical.  In the words of Bernard Fernandez, a five-term president of the Boxing Writers Association of America: 

… [T]he consensus choice to succeed [Mayweather] atop the unofficial but prestigious pound-for-pound list is an adult male who is no larger than many American sixth-graders.  Mixing sports similes again, it’s like the best player in the Little League World Series jumping directly to Major League Baseball and being voted Most Valuable Player … . 

Notably, Fernandez wrote that on October 6, 2015, before González beat former champion Brian “Hawaiian Punch” Viloria on October 17, 2015 and proved worthy of co-featuring a pay-per-view event.  Viloria looked very strong; yet he was outclassed.  A 2000 U.S. Olympian, Viloria went down (in the third round) for the first time in 43 professional fights and more than 200 amateur fights.  After the ninth-round stoppage, many of González’s sceptics who matter conceded.

According to HBO’s Pound-For-Pound: A History, the “pound-for-pound” king accolade can be traced to the teens and 1920s.  Only two flyweights (or smaller) are mentioned: the British Jimmy “The Mighty Atom” Wilde and the Argentine Pascual “El León Mendocino” Pérez.  Wilde first became a British champion over 100 years ago.  He has 141 recorded fights and amazingly went undefeated in 103 straight bouts.  Pérez fought in the 1950s and '60s, winning 84 of 92 fights.

Other notable flyweights, although apparently not in the consensus #1 pound-for-pound discussion, are the Filipino Francisco “Pancho Villa” Guilledo fighting in the 1920s and the Mexican Miguel “El Maestro” Canto fighting in the 1950s.

It is not clear that Wilde and Pérez were the very best.  Pérez is mentioned only after contemporaries Carlos Ortíz and Éder “Galo de Ouro” Jofre; whereas Wilde had Harry Greb as a contemporary, to say nothing of Jack “The Manassa Mauler” Dempsey.  

But giving both Wilde and Pérez the benefit of the doubt, González has done something that had been done only twice in 100 years.  How, then, is he not “fighter of the year”?  I need to have that explained to me like I’m a six-year-old.
González’s case is not limited to a moniker.  He has put a weight division on the map, the way that Michael “Little Hands of Stone” Carbajal did, more than 20 years ago, for the junior flyweights.  The second flyweight to earn a million dollars for a fight in 2016 better send González a “Thank You” card.  Juan Francisco “El Gallo” Estrada wants this to be him, so bad, that he is fighting Chocolatito's nephew on January 16, 2016.  Perhaps any González from Nicaragua will do.

Today people cannot mention boxers up to three divisions above González (such as super bantamweight Guillermo “El Chacal” Rigondeaux) without saying in the same breath how great it would be to see González go up in weight to take them on. 

Álvarez replaced Mayweather as the sport’s “Money”-printing machine.  That is noteworthy but it is not historic. “Money” had to be replaced by someone; it could have been Miguel Cotto.  The multi-billion dollar sport needs a face to sell; and what the sport needs, the sport gets.

Something truly rare happened in 2015: a fighter from a division that is often seen as little more than a warm-up act for the fights that matter turned all the heads.  González flipped the script.  In the words of boxing writer Kevin McRae, “He’s the rare type of fighter who can break molds and challenge our assumptions about the sport and what it means to be a star.” 

In the press, González gets some grief for fighting Valentín León on February 28, 2015.  Critics dismiss the third-round stoppage and say that León was not a quality opponent.  But the fight took place outdoors at Puerto Salvador Allende in Nicaragua, a-small-Central-American-country (is there another kind?) of 6 million people, half of whom live below the poverty line. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Americas, after Haiti.  A Nicaraguan-sized purse for a non-title fight can attract only so much talent. It is a credit to González that he is not the first person to state the obvious: that he has outgrown his country.  The fight was González’s gift to Nicaraguans and he used it as an opportunity to fight (for the first time) a super flyweight at 115-pounds.

An article on González’s rise must mention Alexis “El Flaco Explosivo” Argüello (see here and here) to be complete, so there it is. 

by Guillermo “Nacatamales” Schible.  Guillermo ran away from fights as a kid, but he became a barrister, at least.

Rasouli decision -- So what Is the Common Law?

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Canada released Cuthbertson v. Rasouli, 2013 SCC 53.  Argument took place more than ten months ago, on December 10, 2012.  The court was reviewing an unanimous Court of Appeal for Ontario decision released on June 29, 2011.  The Court of Appeal had upheld an earlier decision by Justice Himel.  Medical patients in Hassan Rasouli's condition are not supposed to live this long; Hassan remains with us.  

A 5-2 majority (Justice Moldaver could not participate because he had written, with Simmons, J.A., the decision under appeal) concluded that the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment, at least in the case before it, constituted "treatment" as defined in Ontario's Health Care Consent Act, 1996 (the "Act") and therefore required either patient or substitute decision maker ("SDM") consent.

Thus, Rasouli's doctors are not entitled to withdraw mechanical ventilation (“MV") unilaterally, without the consent of Rasouli's wife.  In case of an impasse, and if they remain determined to withdraw MV, Rasouli's doctors must apply to Ontario's Consent and Capacity Board (the “CCB") for it to review the situation, and in particular, to consider whether Rasouli's wife is refusing to consent to the doctors' proposed withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment in a manner consistent with s. 21 of the Act.

The majority was careful not to decide more than it had to, and it offered only limited commentary on the common law position to the situation at hand.  While personally disappointing (I argued the common law position on behalf of the patient both at the Court of Appeal and at the Supreme Court), this was probably appropriate, considering: (1) the case was not argued on the basis of Charter rights (only Charter values); (2) there was no record on the cost of care nor the rationing of medical resources (issues that could have weight, if the Act--which provides for an user-friendly process with very strict timelines--does not apply); and (3) Rasouli's official medical diagnosis had improved from "PVS" to "MCS", so the record built today even in that case might be different.

Supreme Court of Canada

Supreme Court of Canada

The majority raised an important distinction between the concepts of "medical benefit" and "health-related purpose".  Just because something is considered (by the treating physician(s)) to be "medically futile" does not mean that it is not "treatment" under the Act (thus requiring consent).  This corrects a potentially dangerous comment made by the Court of Appeal at paragraph 46 of its reasons: "For present purposes, we are prepared to accept that the Act does not require doctors to obtain consent from a patient or substitute decision-maker to withhold or withdraw "treatment" that they view as medically ineffective or inappropriate."  The Supreme Court has made clear that the definition of "treatment" is not limited to what is medically indicated; such a limitation is inconsistent with the statutory language and the objects of the Act.  The application (and protection) of the Act, in the termination of life context, therefore, does not depend on the "treatment package" (tied to palliative care) concept developed by the Court of Appeal, which could have led to arbitrariness and people falling through the cracks.

Justice Himel was correct when she wrote, at paragraph 103 of her reasons, back on March 9, 2011:  "We are fortunate in Ontario that our legislature has provided a statutory scheme to assist doctors and substitute decision-makers in determining when an incapable person should be removed from life support, complete with recourse to an independent, expert tribunal in the event that a dispute arises in applying the best interests test.  This statutory scheme will allow the applicant's doctors to challenge the substitute decision-maker's decision refusing consent to the proposed plan at the CCB.  While no end of life decision can be easy, the process established by the HCCA provides consistency and ensures a full consideration of an incapable person's best interests in cases such as this."

We are indeed fortunate in Ontario.  But what is the common law?