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NY Boxers Looking At Coal In Stockings Christmas

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November is just about a done deal, and while many folks are switching their mental gears into a place where sugar plum fairies frolic and the scent of pine from a vibrantly decorated tree wafts and conjures a mood of joy and appreciation, New York professional boxers are feeling a bit left behind.

Hell, more than a bit.

Check out this video which lays on the table the real-world concerns of some of these willing but currently sidelined warriors. You will see 18-0 Heather Hardy, speaking at the recent press conference to hype a Jan. 14 pro boxing card at Barclays Center, talking about how the bill which called for a massive and unparalleled  insurance  coverage increase has stopped boxing dead in its tracks since the summer.

Hardy is a single mom to a 12 year old girl and is an independent contractor who is forbidden from plying her trade in the state, essentially, because the NY legislature and New York State Athletic Commission have tag teamed to restrict the area promoters from putting together shows for people like Hardy.  The NYSAC has been working on, they maintain, securing a policy which would cover boxers as specified by the law which was ratified that brought sanctioned MMA competition back to NY. But September, and October, and now November pass, and no policy is available. “I’m not just a boxer,” she says. “I’m a single parent, who wonders how I’m going to put food on the table, and pay my rent.”

For the January show, it looks like a one-off situation will be cobbled together, so that momentum in the boxing space, seen building last year during cards, topped by Keith Thurman v Shawn Porter and Carl Frampton v Leo Santa Cruz face-offs, won’t fall off a cliff. But that doesn’t solve the issue which has presentations not backed by major cable outlets like Showtime, as the January/Barclays will be, viable.

“You’re paralyzingly this sport in New York,” 15-2-1 Boyd Melson thunders in the video. He fought a bout in which his purse went to charity two weeks ago in Connecticut, where fewer of his fans could make the trek to, because a “club show” cannot be put together with no available insurance. “The amount of money I was able to earn in my purse was significantly hindered,” said Melson, who is deeply considering a Congressional run. “This is money that was going to be donated in its entirety to help battle heroin addiction in Staten Island. My poor ticket sales, worse by many thousand dollars I have ever sold, took the blow as my ticket sales dictated my asking price for my purse!”

“It’s not ok to prevent the boxers from earning a living. It’s not ok,” says Lou Dibella, who promotes the 34 year old Hardy and the 36 year old Melson.

Hardy will try her hand at mixed martial arts, Jan. 14 in Kansas City, Missouri, they are looking for a foe now. The Invite bout will be shown on UFC’s FightPass app. While training for that, she will be continuing to hope that the pols and NYSAC get it together, so all boxers can get it on. During the Barclays presser, Hardy, who is more than hopefull she will be able to box come March, if a rumored Barclays date pans out, said her peace, then jetted, off the stage, because she had to pick up her kid from school. Yeah, the “privileged” life of the well known fight sport celeb…No sitter to do that chore, her budget will not allow it.

Other guys are hurting, too. Shawn Cameron, an 10-2 154 pounder, checked in. “This is not good, over the past few months you can feel the morale dying,” said the 34 year old Brooklyn native. “A lot of guys are quitting. Boxing isn’t your typical job. If you don’t work, you don’t eat and right now we’re starving! The inactivity is bad, but it’s also killing us from a financial standpoint. They need to fix this soon. People have made the transition to the training side, while some have even gone to the MMA side. 2017 cannot be like this!”

So, this holiday season beckons. Ads are everywhere, songs about merry this and joyful. It’s positive to lose oneself in the aura. But you can drink that in and drink a gallon of spiked eggnog and the fact still remains, boxing in NY is hanging on by a thread and fighters are battling bill collectors and an uncertain and demoralizing economic present. Here’s hoping the immediate future brings tidings of joy.

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About Michael Woods

Editor/publisher Michael Woods became addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the fearsome Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist Woods has covered the sport since then, for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN New York, RING, and he was editor of TheSweetScience.com from 2007-2015. Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and numerous other organizations.

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