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Snips and Snipes 17 September 2020: Catastrophic Number of Boxing Shows Due to Covid-19

Everyone in boxing has suffered due to the pandemic. We know this but 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 for 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. For the United Kingdom the figures are 272 for 2019 and 72 to the end of 2020. 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. Japan in 2019 registered 183 shows and the projected figure to end November is 49. As can be seen the impact on boxing around the world has been catastrophic.

Boxers, managers, promoters, seconds, trainers, gyms, local commissions, Boards, 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 5 December in Paranque City, Manila Vic Saludar and Robert Paradero will contest the vacant secondary WBA minimumweight 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 smooth 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 Alvarez suing DAZ-N 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 2 November and whilst my heart goes out to him as he must be down to his last $100 million by starting his action against DAZ-N and Golden Boy it means he won’t be fighting anywhere except the courts for a while.

This week was a good week for Team Sauerland as they landed the rights to stage two IBF final eliminators. A bid of $118,530 helped them outbid German rivals SES for the super middleweight contest between Zach Parker and Stefan Haertel. The top two places in the IBF super middleweight ratings are vacant as no one currently in their ratings has beaten a rated fighter but with Parker No 4 and Haertel No 5 the winner will go to No 1 leaping over No 3 Caleb Truax. The other final eliminator. This one at middleweight, will feature Patrick Wojcicki against Patrice Volny. Neither fighter has faced a quality opponent yet (In their computerised world ratings Box Rec has Volny at No 33 and Wojcicki at No 37 and the EBU places Wojcicki at No 15 in Europe) but the winner will be the mandatory challenger to Gennady Golovkin. Best of luck with selling that fight to the public.

The WBO are naturally only concerned with their own titles so despite hopes of a Josh Taylor vs. Jose Carlos Ramirez unification fight they have set the date of 20 September for the teams representing Ramirez and Jack Catterall to reach an agreement or they will then call for purse bids. Incidentally the minimum purse bid for a WBO super lightweight title fight is $150,000 but of course the fight is worth a lot more than that. As an example for the fight with Viktor Postol Ramirez’s purse was $850,000 and Postol’s $500,000.

To take part in a professional boxing match you have to be medically examined to ensure you are fit to box. It seems to me sometimes that if you have the standard two legs two arms a trunk and a head you are half way there. If you are not blind and don’t have a physical disability or any disease then the chances are you will qualify as fit to box. After some recent fights I wonder whether there should be another factor taken into account. Take the cases of Dennis Lewandowski and Chauncy Welliver. Lewandowski is 27 stands 6’2” and for his last fight weighed 335lbs giving a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 42.4. Welliver is also 6’2” and weighed 378lbs for his last fight giving him a BMI 48.5. The BMI scale shows that anything over a BMI of 30 is into the red zone of obesity and therefore clinically perhaps even dangerously unfit-but nevertheless- fit to box! If a doctor examined Welliver outside of the context of boxing he would never say that a man who was more than twice the upper range of fitness for his size i.e. 183.6lbs was “fit” but hey this is boxing so two arms, two legs etc…….

Plenty of action coming up with “Sasha” Povetkin and Dillian Whyte meting again on 21 November with Povetkin defending the WBC interim title he won with his stoppage of Whyte in August. Before then on October 10 Nathan Gorman fights for the first time since his kayo loss against Daniel Dubois last July. He faces Ghanaian Richard Lartey who was knocked out in four round by Dubois in April last year. At light heavyweight Joshua Buatsi puts his IBF No 3(2) rating and his WBA International title on the line against inexperience Croat Marko Calic and another WBA International title will be up for grabs in Newcastle on 17 October when Lewis Ritson defends against former IBF lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez. Unbeaten Olympian Qais Ashfaq, Pakistani-born Scot Kash Farooq and unbeaten WBO No 2 super bantamweight Thomas Patrick Ward are all schedule to be on the card.

Eddie Hearn continues to spread his reach even further with a Matchroom show in Mexico on 23 October. The plan is for three world title fights with Juan Francisco Estrada defending his WBC super flyweight title against former champion Carlos Cuadras, Roman Gonzalez risking his WBA super fly title against Israel Gonzalez and Julio Cesar Martinez putting his WBC flyweight title on the line against currently-but not for long-unrated Maximino Flores. If Estrada and Gonzalez come thought those defences successfully then an Estrada vs. Gonzalez unification match must be the aim.

Matchroom are also aiming to satge one of the biggest fights in New Zealand boxing history between Joseph Parker and Junior Fa. They have unsettled business from the amateurs where they both scored wins over each other but Fa’s win in the Oceania Olympic Qualifier cost Parker a place at the 2012 Olympics.

The almost forgotten final of the WSSB cruiserweight tournament will take place in Munich on 26 September. In case you have forgotten-and you could be excuse if you have as the semi-finals were staged fifteen months ago-it will be Mairis Breidis against Yuniel Dorticos. Not sure if they will play the national anthems or the last post as this tournament has been dead but not buried for over a year.

Where can I hide my head in embarrassment for boxing? Wlad Klitschko striding down the catwalk modelling a new police uniform. If you hear a sound like an electric fan it is Tony Galento spinning in his grave.

Former IBF and WBA cruiser champion Murat Gassiev is training again with the aim of fighting at heavyweight. He has not fought since losing to Oleksandr Usyk in a unification fight in July 2018.

Can’t get too excited about Andy Ruiz vs. Chris Arreola which is slated for 7 November. Ruiz is still very much in the heavyweight picture being No 4 with the WBC and WBA and No 5 with the IBF and WBO but a lot of interest will be on what he weighs after he was 283 ½ Lbs in the return fight with Anthony Joshua in December. Anything over 260lbs will raise questions over his fitness. Same with Arreola if he is over the 244lbs he weighed in his fight last August when losing to Adam Kownacki.

About the Author

Born in Scotland, Eric Armit started working with Boxing News magazine in the UK in the late 1960’s initially doing records for their Boxing News Annual and compiling World, European and Commonwealth ratings for the magazine. He wrote his first feature article for Boxing News in 1973 and wrote a “World Scene” weekly column for the magazine from the late 1970’s until 2004. Armit wrote a monthly column for Boxing Digest in the USA and contributed pieces to magazines in Mexico, Italy, Australia, Spain, Argentina and other countries. Armit now writes a Weekly Report covering every major fight around the world and a bi-weekly Snips & Snipes column plus occasional general interest articles with these being taken up by boxing sites around the world. He was a member of the inaugural WBC Ratings Committee and a technical advisor to the EBU Ratings Committee and was consulted by John McCain’s research team when they were drafting the Ali Act. He is a Director and former Chairman of the Commonwealth Boxing Council. Last year (2019), Armit has been nominated to the International Boxing Hall of Fame to which he said, “Being on the list is an unbelievably huge honour.”

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eric Armit.

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