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Boxing, Live Boxing, Live Pro Boxing, Is Taking Place in New York, After A Year Off

Michael Woods

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Boxing’s back in New York, tonight, as the Ring City gang are setting up shop at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY, with a main event pitting Jelena Mrjdenovich (41-10-2, 19 KOs), the WBA featherweight champ, against Erika Cruz (12-1-0, 3 KOs)

The scraps, with two support bouts to unfold before the feature attraction, will screen on NBC Sports Network, beginning at 9 PM ET. A three-fight professional undercard and intrasquad “scrimmage” bouts featuring West Point cadets will kick off at 5 PM ET on Twitch.

There hasn’t been heavy hoopla surrounding the return of prize-fighting within the confines of the state, but maybe there should be some, because it signals a return to normalcy, to a degree.

Harken back to the last boxing show that took place in NY, before the numbers of people being infected with coronavirus convinced state leaders to move toward shutdown: on Saturday, May 7, Adam Kownacki was set to battle Robert Helenius at Barclays Center, topping a Premier Boxing Champions event. On Friday, it was announced that there were 33 confirmed cases of coronavirus within NY, and the number had quadrupled over two days.

But nobody had yet died from Covid in NY; that word dropped on March 14, that an 82 year old woman with emphysema had died of Covid on March 13 after entering an unnamed NYC hospital March 3.

By the hour, more and more people were understanding the potential scope of the viral scourge. Some leaders were more inclined to err on the side of optimism, which kept tens of millions of people in a state of delusion as to how hard the pandemic could hit here, regarding the possible toll that this virus could take on America.

Donald Trump during a visit to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia on March 7 boasted of his knowledge base regarding the virus.

“I like this stuff, my uncle, he was a great person at MIT, he taught at MIT for like a record number of years, he was a great super genius, Dr. John Trump. I like this stuff, I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it, every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability, maybe I should have done that instead of running for President…I understand that whole world, I love that world, I really do, I love that world,” Trump said, referring to doctors and scientists who specialize in study of and handling of wicked viruses like Covid-19. He also minimized the potential power of the virus by comparing it to the flu and said that he’d not be cancelling his campaign rallies.

Back to the present–I reached out to the NY State Athletic Commission, to look to get a better sense of the import of the show, and also some clarity on what the event will look like, and what boundaries are in place because of continuing Covid concerns.

Question from Michael Woods: Can you tell us from the commission standpoint how it was decided that it was OK to have a pro boxing event take place in NY, on April 22?

Answer from spokesperson Mercedes Padilla: Professional sports are permitted in New York State under the Department of Health’s guidance. In light of the progress the state has made to curb the spread of COVID-19, on March 22, 2021, the Department of Health recently issued updated guidance for professional sports competitions to allow events to take place with and without spectators, see here. This event is being conducted according to the Department of Health safety protocols, and the competition is being conducted pursuant to the rules and regulations of the State Athletic Commission.

Q) This will be an outdoor setup, yes?

A) No, the event will be conducted indoors in the Hayes Gymnasium, at West Point Military Academy.

Q) Will patrons be allowed in?

A) Though spectators are generally permitted under the Department of Health’s guidance, since this event is being conducted at West Point Military Academy, general admission is not allowed. Only military personnel (e.g., cadets), Commission staff, combatants, and necessary individuals will be allowed in.

Q) What is the capacity for fans, and is there a capacity for non-patrons, as well?

A) There will be no general admission at this event. Effective April 2, 2021, to permit events, arts, and entertainment venues to reopen at up to 33% capacity, with up to 100 people indoors and up to 200 people outdoors, or up to 150 people indoors and up to 500 people outdoors if all attendees present proof of a negative COVID-19 test, provided that social distancing, face covering, and cleaning and disinfection protocols required by the Department of Health are adhered to.

Q) What is the protocol, from your standpoint, on how to proceed with a show, while the coronavirus continues to be a factor in all our lives?

A) The protocol is to follow the Department of Health’s (DOH) guidance relating to professional sports and the professional safety plan submitted by the promoter, in accordance with the DOH guidance which is periodically updated based on the most recent scientific data.

Q) Beyond this show, folks like me are curious as to when we will see an indoor arena show, in Madison Square Garden, in Barclays Center. Can you give some guidance as to when that might occur, for a boxing or an MMA event?

A) Events such as those could be conducted under the Department of Health’s guidance, though there would be a reduced capacity and additional necessary safety requirements. Though no requests by promoters have come in yet, the Commission is available and as always will continue to work with our licensed promoters to put on shows in these venues that meet the applicable guidelines.

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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