- The Washington Times - Friday, February 18, 2005


Former Washington Redskins receiver Michael Westbrook received medical clearance yesterday to participate in a martial arts mixed cage match against Jarrod Bunch in Cleveland on Feb.25.

Bernie Profato, executive director of the Ohio Athletic Commission, said an orthopedist who examined and X-rayed Westbrook in Arizona pronounced him healthy and able to fight. Westbrook has been training there.

Profato, whose organization is sanctioning the event, was concerned when he learned Westbrook had a small plate inserted following surgery for a broken neck during the 1998 season. But after hearing from Dr. Brian Shafer of the Phoenix Orthopedic Group, Profato said he is convinced the fight poses no risk.

“He X-rayed him and everything and said [Westbrook] can go,” Profato said. “He said this guy is fit to do anything.”

Westbrook, who came back from the neck surgery to have his best season in 1999 and played three years after that, said he never was worried he would not be permitted to fight.

“Not even a little bit,” said Westbrook, who yesterday left for his hometown of Detroit, where he will hone his boxing skills at the famed Kronk Gymnasium. “It was all silly to me.”

Profato, who said he is awaiting faxed results of Westbrook’s exam, said both fighters will be examined by commission doctors as part of the usual, pre-bout routine. But he does not expect any new findings.

“I got a better chance of fighting than [Westbrook] has of not fighting,” Profato said.

Bob Cohn

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