by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
There has been a lot of speculation surrounding Mark Kerr and his decision to pull out of his American Championship Fighting (ACF) main event title match against Wes Sims on May 6th. Kerr withdrew from the bout due to a hand injury, but didn’t inform ACF officials until the night of the show, actually after the event began.
Since we ran our original article on MMAWeekly, the director of the Colorado Office of Boxing has said that Kerr was denied medical clearance for that evening’s event. That still leaves several questions unanswered. Why did Kerr not pull out of the fight on Tuesday? Why did Kerr say that he would still fight? Why did Kerr change his mind three times after the event had already started?
Wes Sims spoke exclusively to MMAWeekly about what transpired in Denver, Colorado over the weekend.
Sims told MMAWeekly, “[Kerr] came in. He said he was going to fight. He changed his mind. He said he wasn’t going to fight. The promoters went in. The ACF has four guys that put the show together. There’s not just one person, so they all went in and talked to him, and he was back on. The local guy that he had been training with out here talked to him, and so he was back out. They went back in, and they told him again. It’s like a loan. They had paid him up front. They had already given him his fight purse. They paid him to fight, and he decided, nope, he wasn’t fighting.”
According to Sims, he was told three different times on the night of the event that the fight was scratched and then back on. Sims commented, “Three different times they did that. I’m getting my gear on. I’m peeling it back off. I had to put it on a couple of times… then they came back in and said it was off. I mean, it’s nothing against the promoters. They tried. You’re going to have to get Kerr on here and ask him.”
(MMAWeekly attempted to contact Mark Kerr, but he could not be reached for comment.)
Wes further commented, “They would’ve had an opponent there [if] he pulled out at the weigh-ins. We’re talking the third fight of the night he pulled out. He showed up late. The show had already started. I got my physical and was in my locker room changing my clothes, getting ready to fight, and I’m the 10th fight. The third fight in, he shows up and says ‘I’m not fighting. I’m fighting. I’m not fighting. I’m fighting. I’m not fighting.’ … Right now, I think he’s in trouble because he had a signed contract to be in the ring that night, and boom, he pulled out.”
There was some controversy about the organization’s doctors clearing Kerr to fight, while Kerr’s doctor advised him not to compete. When asked about this, Sims stated, “He brought his own doctor who said he couldn’t [fight], and he had doctors there that did his physical that said he could. When he showed up at the weigh-ins, and at the fight, he had masking tape on his hand. It wasn’t a tape job from a doctor. It was like someone went to the kitchen table and got some masking tape and just wrapped himself up.”
Wes explained what he knew about Kerr’s hand injury by saying, “He said in practice he was punching the pads, and he hit the guy’s elbow, but like I said, he came to the weigh-in. After the weigh-ins, they did our interviews for the DVD, and he didn’t say, ‘My hand is sore.’ He didn’t say anything. He was like, ‘I’m getting in the ring tomorrow night. I’m looking forward to this. This is my comeback’ … with no indication of doing what he did.”
Wes continued, “The thing is, he never notified the commission or the promoter. He might have talked to somebody in the ACF and said, ‘Hey, my hand hurts,’ but no one knew of it.”
Kerr pulling out of the fight was a devastating blow to the ACF’s second event, but they did right by Wes Sims. The ACF paid Sims his full fight purse, including the winner’s bonus.
Sims said, “They’ve been good to me. They paid me my show fee and my win bonus. I mean, this was out of their hands. The victims of this was, first off, the fans. The people bought tickets or paid to watch this event with the intentions of seeing Kerr and me in the ring, and not getting to see that… and then the ACF, and then myself. I put the training in. I put the time in. We all fell into it. They took care of me. I came to fight. I got paid. Like I said, they fronted him up his money for his fight and he bailed.”
The bout between Kerr and Sims was supposed to be for the ACF’s Heavyweight Championship. Sims was presented with an interim belt, but refused to accept it. Sims explained, “They said that I’m the interim champ. I told them to keep it. I didn’t want it. I said, ‘I have to beat someone’s ass to get it,’ and I pointed at Kerr. He had his opportunity to speak. I tried not to bash him too bad in the ring.”
The promoters and Sims addressed the live crowd about the situation during the show.
Wes was asked what he said in the ring, and he replied, “I told him that I had trained my butt off for three months so I could beat his ass, and for him to wipe the tears out of his eyes, get some guts, go put his gloves on, and get in the ring and fight tonight. He should have grabbed the mic out of my hand and said, ‘You’re a classy individual, Wes. I’ll see you in July and beat your f—ing ass when my hand heals up,’ but he didn’t say nothing.”
Closing out the interview, Sims may have summed it up best when he said, “I’m not going to sit here and bash him because obviously the Mark Kerr the fans know from 1998 and Pride… this is not the same guy.”