No Sports to Watch? Boxing has you covered

By on July 19, 2020

Clay Collard Destroys Lorawnt-T Nelson In Two (photo Mikey Williams/TopRank)

Each week it seems like the dominos continue to fall. Collegiate Conferences across the nation continue to postpone fall sports believing sports fans to think that inevitably college football is going to be cancelled nationwide. There was once a glimmer of hope, but now it appears that has disappeared.

Manny Pacquiao (PR Photo)

One sport that has been able to successfully carry out live sporting events has been boxing promoted by Top Rank. Started by Bob Arum and the late Jabir Hebert Muhammad in 1973, Top Rank has successfully been able to promote legendary fights including Muhammad Ali, Manny Pacquio, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. Despite growing up just 20 miles away from the International Boxing Hall of Fame, I have never paid much attention to professional boxing. Yes, I have followed the legends like Manny Pacquio and Floyd Mayweather Jr., but it seems like boxing today is not very popular amongst Generation Z.

Even though I have never been very interested in boxing, I find it remarkable how Top Rank has been able to successfully promote and carry out fight cards in the midst of a global pandemic. For many sport organizations, it has been a struggle to produce live sports. After a few month layoff, Top Rank and legendary Bob Arum have been able to successfully create a “bubble” which has allowed them to continuously provide fight cards for the live sport crazed fans. 

How do they do it?

In order for sports to be played as Covid-19 is ravaging through the nation, adjustments have to be made. And Top Rank Boxing did just that. According to Damon Gonzalez from LatinBox Sports, the legendary Bob Arum has developed a plan which is centered around a “bubble” being created at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. This concept which has been essential for other sports leagues to be able to compete in this new era of sports, requires strict adherence to maintaining social distancing and mandatory quarantining. Competitors are all required to pass a Covid test before being permitted to enter the “bubble” which is a portion of the MGM Grand that has been rented out by Top Rank. This is an area inside the MGM Grand that is blocked off from the public. Once inside the “bubble”, competitors are not allowed to leave if they want to fight. In the event of a failed test, the fighter is not allowed inside the “bubble” and they will not be allowed to compete. As reported by Mr. Gonzalez, just a few weeks ago a fighter’s manager decided to leave the bubble without a mask. This was a direct violation of the protocol implemented by Top Rank which resulted in him getting removed from the MGM and caused his fighter to compete with one less guy in his corner. The policies but in place are very strict as Top Rank wants to prioritize the safety of the fighters and everyone involved. Although these protocols may seem a little extreme, they are required in order to carry out live sporting events in 2020.

Who has been competing?

If someone does not closely follow professional boxing, like myself, many of the names on the recent Top Rank cards have been unrecognizable. This provides a major opportunity for young up and comers who are trying to make a name for themselves in this sport. Even though Top Rank has been able to carry out cards, they have been lacking a big-name fight headliner. This has been a struggle for Top Rank largely due to the fact that they cannot hold fans at their events during this time. Just like every other sport organization in North America, Top Rank was in a standstill for a few months. According to Damon Gonzalez, a big reason why big-name fighters have yet to fight is because of the financial gates. He says that “big names like Terrance Crawford and Errol Spence are not going to get the pay day they are supposed to get if they are fighting in a sold-out T-Mobile Arena or Madison Square Garden. So now boxing cannot use the big crowds, they cannot provide that kind of money for the big fighters.” Currently, Top Rank is working on ways to have socially distanced crowds inside of a football stadium. The hope is that using a massive stadium will allow for adequate social distancing while at the same time having a large enough crowd to generate additional money. It is still in the beginning stages of development but hopefully for the sake of the sport, it can be pulled off and Top Rank will be able to get some big-time fighters to help headline some fight cards in the future.

What is next?

For any combat sports fan, there is going to be a fight to watch soon. This fight is going to be Vergil Ortiz Jr vs Samuel Vargas. Damon Gonzalez states that Ortiz is the next superstar of his generation and he is certainly a fighter to keep an eye on in the future. I do not watch much boxing, but I will defiantly be tuning in to watch this kid in his next fight in the ring. Top Rank is going to continue to move forward and keep providing live entertainment to its audience. Hopefully the sports world can keep returning to normalcy in the next few weeks and professional boxing can work on getting fans to attend their events. I know this sport, like so many others have been plagued by the what has occurred in the last few months. I know it has required countless hours of hard work, but it is impressive what Top Rank has been able to accomplish during these times. The whole nation needs some normalcy right now and a major fight card would be perfect for that.

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