Boxing Set For Limited Return

By Rich Mancuso/ Sports Editor

March 7 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. That  was the last and live boxing event in New York City headlined with heavyweights Adam Kownackio and Robert Helenius. The boxing world has been dark with the exception of a few shows in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. 

With New York City at the epicenter of a global pandemic, and with projections of a second wave of COVID-19, boxing plans to make a limited and different return with safety protocols in place, 

Though, a source with the New York State Athletic Commision said, “It will be quite some time before the Garden and Barclays Center get the heads up to promote shows.”

A source said the NYSAC is in constant contact with Governor Andrew Cuomo and the CDC. So, any hope of resuming live boxing events in New York are depending upon the different stages that have been set forth as to phases of reopening business and seeing some normalcy in the state.

Regardless, if and when, the lower budget promoters that stage occasional club shows may be shutout.   Smaller venues may not be available.  Promoters may not have the financial means to move along with sponsors not available. 

Some that have been contacted, say, they won’t have the appropriate means to secure insurance and bonds that are required. And with no fans, gate receipts that promoters depend upon are gone.

 The impact also for them is not having a gate. Many of the promoters do not have the financial or television deals that come with Top Rank, PBC, Matchroom, and Golden Boy Promotions. 

The impact will also be felt on the fighters and many who depend on income from the lower budget shows. Many mainstream continue to do underground training as gyms remain closed in New York and other locations. 

Top Rank and  ESPN were approved by the Nevada State Athletic Commission to precede with two shows. Shakur Stevenson headlines and defends his WBO featherweight title June 9.  Jessie Magdaleno, the Top Rank promoted featherweight, highlights two nights later also on ESPN.  

Closed door shows in las Vegas, with no gate receipts. There will be three or four fights on each card. COVID-19 testing will be administered before and after fighters are in the ring, as are temperature checks. 

While things are still being sorted as to safety protocols, and currently under review, isolation of fighters and personnel is a definite part of the plan.

Those employed at Top Rank are anxious to get back to work, though a majority will not be permitted in the venue or have contact with the fighters.

As one longtime Top Rank executive said, “Boxing will return, but it will be a long time before we see a normal fight card.” 

So what is a fight card going to resemble as the pandemic continues? Boxing fans don’t care what it will look like. They are starving to see a live event and resume a calendar year that had some interesting bouts on the agenda.

Two working the corners and wearing face masks, judges and a limited amount of personnel at ringside will be distanced, everyone gets tested are some of the medical protocols.

“Everything changes by the second,” said a source with knowledge of the situation of the Top Rank shows.

Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder a third time,  Vasyl Lomachenko-Teofimo Lopez, two anticipated fights on the Top Rank calendar are not anytime soon.  

Said the source, “Bob Arum is not having those fights without a gate revenue..”

Added to the fact, UK based Fury,  is facing travel restrictions. So is Lomachenko.  Lopez, Brooklyn based, is reportedly training in an undisclosed location and Top Rank wants that fight to be staged at Madison Square Garden.

Yes, boxing will return in a few weeks, but it won’t be normal. And the hope is fighters and personnel will test negative of COVID-19. If not, then it’s back to where we were with nothing,

Comment:  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

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