Boxing Gets A Pass During COVID Year, Time To Start Getting Pumped For New Year



Boxing Gets A Pass During COVID Year, Time To Start Getting Pumped For New Year

It's a pandemic period, so you (and I think me) can be forgiven if our thinking is a bit more scattered than usual.

It makes sense, a certain amount of your time is likely to be and have been occupied with base-level things like, how do I not get this virus which could kill me, or see me pass it on, while I am asymptomatic, to someone else, maybe a senior citizen, who isn't able to fight it off.

At times, I find myself falling into head space that is pandemic influenced, and then after a spell, seeing things from an outside-the-pandemic POV. Looking at boxing, and how we are, and how we've been, yeah, I find myself going back and forth between getting critical about the state of the sport, and then a bit later saying to myself, Cmon now, to an extent or another, 2020 has been for much of the world trying to adapt under quite trying circumstances. Those “circumstances” are this: that a very transmissable virus which mutates and is unpredictable in that it is an assassin to the immune systems of a certain number of the infected is making the rounds.

And in America, the response by the federal leadership tasked with forming a cohesive and effective response to keep citizens as safe as can be has been severely lacking. So, I hear myself thinking, let's not throw daggers at the state of the sport, and assess boxing so harshly based on the last ten months.

The lead-dog promoter in the space, Top Rank, led by Bob Arum, has done its best to maintain a presence in the space, after taking some hiatus time, while the coronavirus flaired wickedly in March and April. Top Rank worked in concert with powers that be in Nevada, and put together a protocol which satisfied the Nevada commission, and their overseers in the Governor's office, as well as their institutional standards.

Top Rank and company ran their last show of 2020 and closed the MGM Bubble Saturday, and, frankly, I don't think a big enough deal was made of that.

It makes some sense, being that media is finding themselves on an activity hamster wheel always, churning, feeding the beast, monitoring releases and social media news drops and news tidbits from the videographers and the radio shows. And more so during COVID, what with other news to take in, and analyze, about the virus, and our roiling catastrophe that is the Trump reign.

Gosh, is it going to be a joyous New Years in some quarters. Arum, no wallflower when it comes to making it clear that he detests Trump, believes this nation will benefit mightily from the subtraction of the serial bankruptcy filer, who handled a public health crisis worse than any US President, and continues to act like he should be in a psych ward, insisting he beat Biden. I bet Arum bangs the gong that much harder the night of Dec. 31.

And already, he and his staff are making plans for '21. I asked him to throw me a couple hints about what Top Rank will bring to the table next month, and into the first quarter of the fresh start year.

“We're not doing any cards in the US in January,” Arum said.

“In February, we have the return of Joe Smith, who is a real lunchpail guy, the light heavyweight. And in March, we have Miguel Berchelt (pictured below) against Oscar Valdez, that's one for the hardcores, and the Mexican-Americans, and the Hispanics, they know these guys.”

“By April, we can roll out everything, I think, most everyone will be vaccinated,” Arum said. “But we'll be working with promoters all over the world, and in other countries. There is huge strength for boxing outside the US.”

Founder/editor Michael Woods got addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the then-impregnable Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist has covered the sport since for ESPN The Magazine,, Bad Left Hook and RING. His journalism career started with NY Newsday in 1999. Michael Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and for Facebook Fightnight Live, since 2017.