Philippines, 01 Dec 2020
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Pro boxing OK’d under MGCQ

Boxing was included among the pro sports that were given the provisional green light to restart by the IATF but GAB chairman Baham Mitra said yesterday fights may be allowed only under MGCQ starting in August with the government agency now drafting reopening protocols for approval by the Department of Health (DOH) before the signing of the PSC-GAB-DOH Joint Administrative Order (JAO) to make it official.

The other day, the DOH presided in an IATF-sanctioned consultative conference involving stakeholders to flush out pending issues with Mitra raising the matter of pro boxing that was excluded in the proposed JAO but approved during the IATF meeting last week. There were about 30 participants in the consultative zoom conference, including PSC Officer-In-Charge commissioner Ramon Fernandez, PBA legal counsel Atty. Melvin Mendoza, officials from the Department of Education, IBF superflyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas, boxing trainer/manager Joven Jimenez, Cucuy Elorde, MPBL commissioner Kenneth Duremdes, MPBL legal counsel Atty. Brando Viernesto, PVL president Ricky Palou, UAAP executive director Atty. Rebo Saguisag, MPBL team owner Rep. Dong Gonzales, Chooks To Go 3x3 commissioner Eric Altamirano and BCAP president Louie Gonzales.

Mitra said because the DOH had health concerns about boxing, it was excluded in the restart proposal to the IATF by the Technical Working Group. But in the IATF meeting, Secretaries Eduardo Ano and Silvestre Bello batted for the restart of pro boxing, along with pro basketball and pro football, for humanitarian reasons. “The motion to include pro boxing was carried but it wasn’t mentioned in the announcement to media,” said Mitra. “I was able to secure a copy of the minutes of the IATF meeting in time for the consultative conference. The IATF asked for the consultative conference with stakeholders to make sure we cover all bases before the JAO is submitted, approved and signed.”

Mitra confirmed that boxing is included in the restart of pro sports and called it a “coup.” “Pro boxing will restart under MGCQ with modifiers,” he said. “GAB is now in the process of detailing the modifiers to comply with the strictest health standards. We are of the impression that under GCQ, training of fighters may restart up to five participants in a session like pro basketball but without sparring. When we move up to MGCQ, sparring will be allowed and the restart of actual fights. Initially, only fighters and officials from within an MGCQ area may participate. This could be a little tricky and may create some problems for promoters. In General Santos City, for instance, officials from Davao come in for boxing. But General Santos City and Davao are under different risk levels. There will also be quarantine protocols which could impact on a fighter's condition. The important thing is we get things going so fighters can again make a living from their sport. We will adapt as we go along.” Mitra said he expects the JAO to be signed next week.

During the consultative conference, it was reiterated by the DOH that non-pro sports will still not be allowed to restart training or play games, meaning no activity in the UAAP, NCAA, MPBL, PVL and PSL. Regarding horseracing, Mitra said PHILRACOM took the lead in securing approval for the restart in MGCQ areas but GAB’s concern is its jurisdiction over off-track-betting stations. “There are 212 off-track-betting stations in the country and 85 percent of horseracing sales are from those stations,” said Mitra. “With no operations, 22 are closing down. About 45 percent of the stations are in Manila and 35 percent in Quezon City. At the moment, Metro Manila is under GCQ. Our first horseracing event will be the Manila Turf on July 19. It remains to be seen if by July 15, Metro Manila will be elevated to MGCQ.”

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.

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