EVERYONE in boxing has suffered due to the pandemic. When you see the figures for the number of fight cards in 2020 compared to 2019 that really drives it home.
To give you an example: In 2019 Box Rec was notified of 604 potential shows in the USA – a substantial number even if some of those notified fell by the wayside. For 2020 from January through to the end of December for the USA the projected figure is 200. That represents a drop of 66 per cent.
For the United Kingdom the figures are 272 for 2019 and 72 to the end of 2020 (74 per cent decrease). For Mexico the figure for all of 2019 was 594 shows and for 2020 through to the end of October the available projected figure is 122 (79 per cent). Japan in 2019 registered 183 shows and the projected figure to end November is 49 (73 per cent). As can be seen the impact on boxing around the world has been catastrophic.
Boxers, managers, promoters, seconds, trainers, gyms, local commissions, governing bodies, sanctioning bodies and even we poor boxing journalists have lost income due to the pandemic (Except myself – the last time anyone paid me for writing it was in doubloons and they were delivered by a guy on a horse).
The impact differs. For some it means the difference between living and just existing. Not having food on the table and not being able to support your family but sometimes that brings out the best in people. An example is Thai promoter and philanthropist Naris Sangwancha. When he learned that a gym in the Philippines did not qualify for the support offered by the Games and Amusement Board (GAB) he provided food for the 37 boxers and other people involved with the gym.
It is also an indication of the problems affecting bodies such as the GAB whose support can only go so far.
The figures for the Philippines were 121 shows in 2019 and up to 9 March, the date of the last show in the Philippines, the total was 14.
However the green shoots of the recovery by boxing from COVD-19 continue to grow and on December 5 in Paranque City, Manila, Vic Saludar and Robert Paradero will contest the vacant secondary WBA strawweight title.
Encouragingly in South Africa the Sports Minister has given clearance to the regulating body, Boxing South Africa (BSA), for boxing shows to restart under strict conditions. Of course, BSA is not a promoter so the pace of the return to boxing will be set by the promoters but BSA has offered to help with the costs of COVID-19 tests. It is hoped that Rodney Berman’s Golden Gloves will put on a show in October but for some promoters it will be like being awarded a driving licence but not having a car. Boxing is a business and it has been hard enough for small promoters in South Africa to stage shows when there were no restrictions so, without gate money and little or no TV, it is a hard road ahead but BSA will do what it can to overcome some of the bumps.
A show is planned for Ibadan in Nigeria in December but so far Ghana has not been given the go ahead.
It seems almost obscene to go from the hardships some in boxing are suffering to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez suing DAZN for $280 million.
It seems to fly in the face of the old sayings of never bite the hand that feeds you and he who pays the piper calls the tune. Of course whoever thought up those saying failed to read the small print. One of Alvarez’s beefs is that he has not been able to fight since beating Sergey Kovalev on November 2 and whilst my heart goes out to him as he must be down to his last $100 million by starting his action against DAZN and Golden Boy it means he won’t be fighting anywhere except the courts for a while.