Joe Miller, executive director of the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission, expects a resolution within a week to a move that saw him suspend the granting of permits for boxing, mixed martial arts and professional wrestling in the state.
He issued the suspension in a letter to promoters in the state on March 5 because of threatened lawsuit by the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the country's largest promoter of mixed martial arts fights.
"The UFC has threatened the lawsuit to challenge our pay-per-view law, which is about two-thirds ($240,000) of our budget," Miller said by phone Tuesday. "They are threatening, saying if we don't repeal it on our own accord, then they are going to file a lawsuit.
"Right now, we don't know which direction we are going. We don't know what our front is going to look like: are we going to try to win a lawsuit or are we going to try to come up with another source of funding and then repeal the law."
Miller said that answer won't come until the attorney general's office has had an opportunity to review it and make a decision. As a result, he won't sanction any event that is scheduled past March 31.
"I really can't make a decision until they do," Miller said. "I am very hopeful of having a resolution very soon."
Promoters currently are charged a 4 percent fee for pay-per-view events that are done around the country and are broadcast into the state.
That money goes to the OSAC, which does not receive any state funding.
Funding for the commission comes from license fees, a 5 percent fee on gross ticket sales from live gates and in the state and the pay-per-view money.
Miller said Florida repealed a similar law before it wound up in court. Maryland and Pennsylvania also have similar laws, but they have not been threatened.
Miller said he's been meeting with legislators this week attempting to find a resolution to the issue.
"We've had some real good indications that we are going to be taken care of, the commission is going to exist and we will be able to function properly," he said. "That was the reason for the letter, to assure we had the funds to adequately provide for the supervision and regulation of the events."
State Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, has introduced a bill that would appropriate money for the commission.
Miller said the OSAC oversaw 278 events in 2011, including five at Buffalo Run Casino.
"I think they panicked. They said we're shutting down our doors," Jolley told Oklahoma City television station KFOR. "If we keep collecting it, we are going to get sued and we'll have to pay lawyer fees. My bill is to save taxpayers money in legal fees by getting rid of the fee we shouldn't be collecting."
"The thing we have to look at is, 'is it constitutionally correct or is it not?'" Miller said.
Former Miamian Tony Holden, who has been a big name in the boxing promotion world, didn't like the news about the freeze.
"You don't react to them É let them sue you," he said.
Holden has one event in the works that could be affected by the freeze: Tulsa Charity Fight Night XXI on April 26.
An April 27 show at the Buffalo Run Casino that will be broadcast worldwide by Showtime and tentatively features an International Boxing Organization super middleweight title fight pitting Thomas Oosthuizen (18-0-1) and Maxim Vlasov (23-1-0) wouldn't be affected because of a compact between the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma – owner of the casino – and the OSAC.
"We and the Cherokees are compacted with the state, so we are fine, regardless of what happens," said Steve Bashore, Buffalo Run general manager – and former state boxing commissioner.