Slap fighting, a brutal sport, has left the world of boxing confused and in shock. It's 'literally organized brain damage,' one exec said.
- The world of boxing was left aghast at Dana White's ongoing Power Slap venture.
- The premise of slap fighting is simple: Brace yourself for an almighty whack that you cannot defend.
Slap fighting, a brutal sport that has its origins in Russia, has recently gained prominence in the US, as a competitive reality show, Power Slap, debuted on TV last week.
Some of the UFC's most prominent figures — from president Dana White to chief business officer Hunter Campbell and counsel Frank Lamicella — have overseen Power Slap.
"If you have any doubt that our society is crumbling, just watch Power Slap on TBS," Hall of Fame boxing promoter Lou DiBella tweeted while watching the first episode on January 18.
"It's like a graphic trainwreck that's hard to turn away from. Slap fighter … what the fuck does that even mean?! This is a testament to how fucked up we all are. Help me!"
—Lou DiBella (@loudibella) January 19, 2023
DiBella even called it "organized brain damage" and "way different" from MMA and the UFC.
He added that he disliked it so much, he "turned this shit off" as it "was making me feel especially dirty," he wrote on Twitter.
Power Slap is so controversial due to its shocking nature
Slap fighting as a whole remains in its infancy in the US, as the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) only sanctioned it as a professional sport for the region late last year.
At a commission meeting Insider attended in November, the NSAC seemed hesitant to do so, as commissioner Stephen Cloobeck requested assurances from Campbell and Lamicella that there'd be no deaths in Power Slap.
"You will make sure no one dies?" said Cloobeck, perhaps referencing the passing of Polish strongman Artur Walczak, who died at age 46 after participating in a slap-fighting event in 2021.
"That is priority one, two, three," Campbell said in response to Cloobeck, counting all the way to 10. "That goes without saying. One of the reasons we tested this was to understand the health and safety aspect."
Regardless, the visuals from various slap-fighting events around the world have been shocking.
A recent slap event in Romania showed the ugly brutality of the sport as it left one participant's face disfigured, and yet, somehow, he still won.
Footage showed Sorin Comsa with chalk and blood over the left side of his face. His cheek looked swollen, his lip sagged on the left, and his face appeared almost unrecognizable from before.
Neuroscientist and concussion expert Chris Nowinski slammed slap fighting last week, calling the entire spectacle "sad," and remarked: "It reminds us that people who don't take the risks often exploit those who do."
'That was horrible,' boxing promoter Dmitriy Salita told Insider
Boxing promoter Dmitriy Salita, who represents fighters like Claressa Shields, Jermaine Franklin, and Jarrell Miller, told Insider that the clip of Comsa was "horrible."
Insider asked Salita about White's comments regarding the difference between Power Slap, where participants exchange three slaps at most, and boxing, where fighters may throw and land hundreds of shots on their opponents.
"It's not my style to comment on other people's business," he said, "But people, and Dana White — an incredible promoter — has been one of them, compare slap fighting to boxing, the risks, and this and that.
"As someone in the boxing community, when I saw this as a viewer, I was disgusted," the exec said.
"I don't know much about MMA — I know boxing — but in both sports there's training to be offensive, training to be defensive, and training to combine the two.
"It's an art form, and it's beautiful. For those who understand it, it's scientific, artistic, and takes the highest level of athleticism.
"As a kid in boxing, we're taught to camouflage our punches so that you can set up a big punch. They also say don't wind up too much because your opponent is going to be able to see it and slip, duck, or block.
"In this particular form of entertainment, you're able to wind up, and the other person just has to brace themselves to take it. As training improves and people get more powerful, things can only get worse — concussions, broken teeth, jaws. It's horrific. It's insane.
"Slap fighting is not a sport to me," said Salita. "There has to be some type of defense against an attack because just having a consistent threshold of pain is not a sport, or healthy, even."
He finished: "When these guys get knocked out, it's a proper concussion, like one from a baseball bat. This doesn't add anything to combat sports or to society, from where I stand."
Power Slap 'needs to be stopped,' one boxer tweeted
Elite boxer Ryan Garcia, who Insider understands is expected to fight Gervonta Davis in a Las Vegas mega event on April 15, was also left aghast at what he saw as Power Slap made its debut on TBS.
"Power slap is a horrible idea and needs to be stopped," he tweeted.
—RYAN GARCIA (@RyanGarcia) January 21, 2023
The Garcia vs. Davis event will air as a pay-per-view on Showtime Sports.
Insider spoke to Showtime Sports President Stephen Espinoza last week, who appeared to agree with Salita's assessment that slap-fighting isn't a sport.
"I saw a little bit of the event," he told us. "I sort of winced, and not to be a stomp about it, it's difficult for me to call it a sport.
"There's an endurance aspect to it, but, look … there's something that offends my sensibilities. It's really who can last the hardest hit without defending themselves.
"That's not something I'm all that interested, in regardless of the people behind it."
Slap fighting is not 'a good addition to combat sports,' Stephen Espinoza told Insider
Espinoza broadcasts several combat sports products on Showtime Sports, including ShoBox, Showtime Championship Boxing, and Bellator MMA.
He conceded that MMA and boxing still have their inherent dangers, but he points to the main difference separating established combat sports and slap fighting is one's ability to defend yourself in a ring or Octagon.
"The danger of slap fighting is that it's repeated concussive blows to the head at full strength with rules against being able to defend yourselves.
"So, I'm not a fan," said Espinoza. "It's just not something that I would support, or think is safe, or a good addition to combat sports as a whole."
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