More than two months after the’s event promoter accused Jose Canseco of taking a dive in a boxing match, the Rough N’ Rowdy boxing series will again be eligible for wagers in Michigan next month.
Well, it will be if Barstool Sportsbook decides to offer markets to Michiganders for their own event, scheduled for April 23 in West Virginia. Other states could join Michigan this time around.
The days of the retired baseball slugger moonlighting as a celebrity boxing sideshow, however, could be over. The West Virginia State Athletic Commission has suspended him indefinitely.
But Barstool has the all-clear for Rough N’ Rowdy 14 after the commission investigated the Feb. 5 fight before sanctioning the April card.
Canseco fighting again? No way, Jose
In February, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy said Canseco “took a dive” against a Barstool intern. Canseco allegedly collected $1 million for his troubles in the brief Rough N’ Rowdy 13 main event in Charles Town, W.Va.
Canseco’s suspension will be honored by other boxing commissions across the country, according to Leon Ramsey, chairman of the WV commission. The former Oakland A’s Bash Brother can appeal the ban.
Ramsey told PlayMichigan the suspension had two main flashpoints.
First, Canseco did not reveal the extent of injuries in pre-fight screenings. He said he re-injured a torn shoulder during the fight. Canseco had knee surgery months before the fight.
“He did not disclose any surgeries or say that he was not in good health,” Ramsey said. “These questions, you are asked. And you are to answer them truthfully.”
Canseco said he’s had right shoulder surgery since the fight and plans for an operation on his left shoulder. He revealed that news in a picture of himself on Twitter.
Second, according to Ramsey, Canseco didn’t put up enough of a fight.
“He appeared to be unwilling or unable to fight,” Ramsey said.
PlayMichigan reached out to email addresses Canseco lists on Twitter for comment, including one provided last week while in search of a good deal for a Weimaraner puppy. Canseco has not responded.
Barstool Sports cleared for more Rough N’ Rowdy events in WV
The Jose Canseco boxing match and the fight night’s aftermath was the sort of viral controversy that is Barstool’s bread and butter.
The 56-year-old Canseco squared off with 22-year-old Billy Football in the headline bout. Canseco was down in about a dozen seconds. He attacked aggressively, then tried to wrap up Billy before falling to the corner and quitting.
Portnoy kept the story alive, tweeting that Canseco “100% took a dive.”
Despite the theatrics, the commission concluded Barstool followed all necessary protocols.
“They obtained all necessary permits and license, followed the guidelines,” Ramsey said. “Therefore, there’s really no action on them.”
Ramsey said the same was true for the host Hollywood Casino, the Penn National Gaming property that hosted the event. PNG owns a stake in Barstool Sports.
The commission voted unanimously to suspend Canseco and clear Barstool and others, Ramsey said.
Michigan sports bettors had action on Canseco fight
Rough N’ Rowdy was a long-standing, small-town West Virginia tradition long before it caught Barstool’s eyes. The brand purchased the promotion in late 2017, adding events with Barstool personalities and making it streamable via pay-per-view.
Ramsey stressed the WV commission has no control on whether other state regulators allow wagers on their events. He also pointed out West Virginia only allows boxing wagers on events through professional governing bodies, such as the World Boxing Association.
But, like some other state regulators, the Michigan Gaming Control Board permits fights sanctioned by state athletic commissions to be available for sports betting markets.
What happened with bets on the Canseco fight?
The Feb. 5 Jose Canseco boxing match took place two weeks after Michigan online sports betting market launched Jan. 22.
Barstool Sportsbook was coming off a strong 10-day start in the end of January. Portnoy and some of his friends were still hanging around downtown Detroit, making videos in preparation for Super Bowl LV, which was two nights after the Canseco fight.
Rough N’ Rowdy 13 fit seamlessly into an otherwise quiet sports calendar.
In Michigan, Barstool Sportsbook offered promotional markets of +400 on both Canseco and Billy, with a $10 maximum bet.
Jeff Morris, a spokesperson for Penn, later told PlayMichigan how the book handled the fallout. He said winning bets were paid out. Losing bets were refunded and matched with a donation to the Barstool Fund, which helped small businesses during the pandemic.
In the end, no Michigan bettors took a loss on the February event.
“At the conclusion of the title fight, it appeared that the losing fighter was either injured or did not participate in good faith,” Morris said. “Regardless of which was the case, the Barstool Sportsbook determined the wager was not appropriate to remain as originally graded and immediately voided all losing wagers, paid out winning wagers and matched losing wagers with a donation to the Barstool Fund.”
Morris did not respond to PlayMichigan about whether Barstool will offer markets in MI next month. No other Michigan sportsbooks took bets on the February fight.
As for the MGCB, spokesperson Mary Kay Bean said the regulator does not comment on investigations, or whether it is conducting one.
Will Barstool Sportsbook post next Rough N’ Rowdy?
Pennsylvania, the only other state in which Barstool Sportsbook was active at the time, did not book bets for Rough N’ Rowdy 13. Pennsylvania has not approved wagers for the overall event, Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board communications director Doug Harbach said last week.
Since the Feb. 5 fight, Illinois also has a Barstool Sportsbook online. Illinois Gaming Board spokesperson Gene O’Shea said Rough N’ Rowdy bets will go forward.
Virginia has been approved for a Barstool Sportsbook as well, though an opening date is not yet known. According to the approved leagues and events list on the Virginia Lottery website, all Association of Boxing Commission and Combative Sports events can be wagered on, just as in Illinois.
Penn plans to launch Barstool Sportsbook in Indiana by the end of April. If it’s live by April 23, the Indiana Gaming Commission has approved wagering on Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports boxing cards.
The Rough N’ Rowdy 14 card, meanwhile, is still taking shape. Clearance for April 23 bouts in Morgantown will require each fighter to undergo a screening.
From there, it’s all on the fighters.
“We can’t make these people fight. We assume they’re going to perform,” Ramsey said. “The thought and the hope is these people are healthy, they come to fight and they fight competitively.
“We can’t make them do that. If they come in and they do not do that, then that’s when we take the action.”