Portland boxer has painful bout with insurance firm
- Steve Brandon
- Portland Tribune - Sports
• Medical expenses have 'Butch' Chapman on the ropes
William 'Butch' Chapman proved on Sept. 7, 2002, that he could take a punch. It's what has happened since then that he finds hard to take.
Chapman, fighting out of Portland's Grand Avenue Boxing Gym, stepped into the Rose Garden ring for the final bout of the evening, just after the main event featuring light heavyweight world champion Roy Jones Jr. and Clinton Woods.
Chapman, who turned 28 last week, broke his left hand in the first round against Jeffrey Horan of Rhode Island. But the 148-pound Chapman was leading and seemingly in control of the junior middleweight bout when the ball rang for the fourth and final round.
'Really early in the round, I was playing around with him a little,' Chapman recalls. 'It was my own arrogance, fighting with my hands down. He's a wild fighter, unorthodox and more of a brawler, and I moved the wrong way and a punch came out of nowhere. My mouth was open when he hit me. I knew it was broken.'
The punch broke Chapman's jaw in three places. 'Half my teeth were kind of folded back, and my mouthpiece wouldn't fit anymore,' he says.
Amazingly, he fought even harder the rest of the way and won by majority decision, raising his record to 6-0.
Then a doctor jumped into ring, took one look at him and said, 'Oh, my God. You need to get on the stretcher.'
Chapman persuaded the doctor to wait till the decision was announced. Then he went to nearby Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health Center, where doctors put titanium plates in his face to put his jaw back together ÑÊand where his troubles really began.
Oregon and federal laws require any boxing promoter ÑÊin this case, Jones' Square Ring Promotions ÑÊto set up medical coverage for every fighter on the card.
The bills for that night and his follow-up treatment, which have included a second jaw surgery and three root canals, total close to $25,000, Chapman says, and the company that was to insure the boxers for Square Ring hasn't paid a dime of it.
Chapman, who is married and has three boys ages 5 to 9, says he has been getting the runaround for nearly a year and doesn't know where to turn.
'My credit is going down the tubes,' says Chapman, who earned about $1,200 for the Sept. 7 fight, an event sponsored heavily by Nike, which has Jones in its stable.
'This is why boxing gets a bad name,' he says. 'As fighters, we help guys like Roy Jones make millions of dollars a year, in TV rights and so forth. For them to have an insurance company that is refusing to pay bills is ridiculous.'
An official for Loomis Benefits West, the Redding, Pa.-based insurance carrier for the Jones card, declined to discuss Chapman's case.
'When I call them, they just tell me I need to call the agent,' Chapman said.
Lawrence Cole, the Texas-based insurance agent for the Jones card at the Rose Garden, could not be reached for comment, but a woman who answered the phone at his office last week said, 'I'm trying to take care of it now.'
'Of course they are,' Chapman said sarcastically. 'They have been for more than 10 months. That's basically the answer I get from them all the time.'
The woman, who would only give her first name, Jill, was adamant: 'I'm the one trying to handle it, but I'm not at liberty to discuss it.'
Phone calls to Thomas B. Riggs, a certified public accountant who works for Jones, were not returned.
'I can call and sit on the phone all day with four or five people and not get anything accomplished,' Chapman says. 'They're always in processing.'
Jim Cassidy is executive director of the Oregon Boxing Commission, which is responsible for enforcing the insurance requirement and protecting the boxers.
Cassidy did not return phone calls, but last week he told cyberboxingzone.com, a Web site, that the problem 'is just a glitch somewhere, and somebody failed to do something. (Chapman) did all the proper things.'
'They're stonewalling him (Cassidy), too,' says Chapman, a mortgage broker with America One Financial Inc. in Portland.
Chapman says he wants to fight again someday, although his jaw 'still hurts like hell' and his injuries were considered potentially career-ending.
'I fight because I love to, but I'm a little paranoid now,' he says. 'I can't afford to go through this kind of insurance thing again.'