Boxing Divisions in New York

Credit: HBO Sports

By Rich Mancuso/Sports Editor 

There’re options available for boxing fans in New York Saturday night with two major boxing shows occurring in proximity of each other.  Main Events and HBO showcase two light heavyweight championship bouts at Madison Square Garden. Across the river at Barclays Center in Brooklyn PBC and DiBella Entertainment showcase the heavyweight title on Showtime.

So two major boxing events clash in the Big Apple at different venues, televised opposite each other on major networks that showcase the sport. This happens in Las Vegas at times where boxing is competitive because casinos are willing to host and the revenue is strong. In New York City — despite showing signs of being a hotbed for the sport, again — this hardly occurs.

And for the boxing fan it may be good with the option, but overall not a good thing for the sport. The promoters don’t care as they are in competition with each other. The fighters get work and that helps, however they prefer the attention be centered where they are booked. They say overall this conflict does not help a sport that needs all the attention it can get.

With two baseball teams in town and with an expanded interleague schedule, conflicts with the Mets and Yankees occur three or four times during their season. But that’s baseball, a sport that dominates headlines daily from April to October.

Baseball needs minimal attention which is so much different from boxing, a sport not played out everyday. This month Top Rank hosts a show at the Garden and Evander Holyfield takes his Real Deal Promotion of rising stars to Brooklyn on consecutive weekends. So boxing indeed is alive and punching in New York but the conflicts Saturday night don’t help the sport.

Again, how did this clash of promotions and networks happen? The New York State Athletic Commission which approves dates and venues is only concerned about revenue. And for the commission that means more revenue for New York. Under their jurisdiction that calculate into double the revenue off gate receipts and taxes that will be collected Saturday night.

Kathy Duva, longtime promoter of Main Events said the Garden card was put in for approval way in advance of the PBC Barclays date and the PBC says they booked the March 3 heavyweight clash at Barclays Center prior to the Main Events slot.

The NYSAC, was not available to comment and they are the sole state organization that would have an appropriate answer. In a nutshell, as was expected, officials at HBO and Showtime offered different points of view. Steven Espinoza, the head of Showtime Sports and Boxing, said Thursday that his show was the only boxing show in town.

That show at Barclays, though,  may not be the best show in town even though a part of the heavyweight title will be contested with WBC champ Deontay Wilder defending against Luis “King Kong” Ortiz.

Sullivan Barrera at the Garden will try to take a portion of the light heavyweight title. What hurts is boxing fans have to choose because one or both will become a part of boxing history as Cubans taking major boxing titles. What will hurt more is if both win titles on the same night, in the same city, at different venues, and on opposing networks.

And as Duva said, “Of course this is not good for the sport.”  But as is known the sport of boxing is controversial and hardly gets it right with which makes this clash nothing different from the ordinary. But for the boxing fan this is paradise and in a nutshell that’s what matters the most.

The fighters have their perspective and to them work is always good. Frankie Galarza the super welterweight from Brooklyn, on the undercard at the Garden that highlights Sergey Kovalev defending the WBO light heavyweight title and Dmitry Bivol doing the same thing with his WBA crown, has his opinion. Both fights have implications in a hotly contested division.

“I think it’s bad for boxing,” said Galarza.. “Brooklyn is right across the bridge. My supporters are  supporters so they will follow me. For the sport itself it doesn’t help. They should definitely try and enhance the sport.”

But Galarza is at the Garden that has become the new venue for Main Events, and of course fighting at the “Mecca” is always a dream for a pro regardless if contested in the main arena or the Theatre which will stage the Main Events card.

The PBC, DiBella,  Showtime and Barclays Center are consistent and delivering boxing fans good shows four or five times a year, so their claim as being the new boxing venue in New York is justified while the Garden and their boxing division competes for business with their claim as “The Mecca.”

For the boxing fan Saturday night is a bonanza. And when you look at it that way with championship fights galore, it can’t be that bad. But for the sport a clash like this is not the route to go.

Comment Rich Mancuso: Mancuso  Twitter@Ring786

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