Am I missing it yet? You know the boxing? Live boxing?
The fact is that as soon as it was announced that we were in “hiatus”, I missed it. Been missing it for a month or so… But when will it be back?
The fact remains that no matter which country is opening the barber’s, or which one has a pub selling corona beer and being boycotted by the ignorant in case they catch it from the glass bottles or if you know how to make your own PPE out of personal hygiene products, boxing is a long way off from a return to live action in a British hall – small or massive.
Last Saturday, the 25th April in Nicaragua, there was a live boxing event. Looking for all the world like some version of an apocalyptic Hollywood film, we saw social distancing in the audience, masks on the officials and fighters in the ring.
There isn’t much to truly excite me about what happened there, though one name caught my attention, the irony was not lost on me when I saw it, but as a spectacle it left a lot to be desired.
I have not watched the whole event and have only really seen the stills, but there just seemed to be a mix of bizarre and pathos that left me without that tender feeling of excitement I would usually have when contemplating a fight between two well matched opponents.
Records shall show that at the Gimnasio Apexis Arguello, in Managua, lightweight Robin Zamora beat Ramiro Blanco on points, the minimum weight contest between Eliezer Gazo and Byron Castellon – both to be honest, far from contenders, even at fringe level – went to Castellon on points, before super featherweight action between Franco Gutierrez and Edwin Tercero, which ought to have been a Gutierrez win, went to the less successful – to date – fighter in Tercero on points over 6. The featherweight Lesther Lara was then knocked out in the second round by Bryan Perez – combined they had lost 21 fights between them, Lara’s loss evens up the tally in the loss column.
Welterweight, Gabriel Escalante, continued his unbeaten record with a 5th round stoppage of journeyman Mario Mairena and the super lightweight contest between Freddy Fonseca and Alain Aguilar ended when Aguilar retired after the 4th.
The name that caught my eye was Fonseca’s. He and his brother have fought in the UK, his brother having pulled out of a fight with Alex Dilmaghani that was due to be aired live on TV just before his ring walk because he fell ill in the changing room; and there is the irony in the midst of a pandemic!
Freddy, himself, was beaten by John Joe Nevin in a WBA international title fight in York Hall in November of last year.
The arrangements of temperatures being checked for the audience as they arrived and distancing in place in the auditorium all seemed quite eerie from this distance. It clearly spooked many of the fighters due to fight because quite a few pulled out of the event.
Of course, we have to remember that, whilst the UK is looking to top the Europa League of Coronavirus infection, Nicaragua has had only 3 die from it. Football and sporting events continue in the Latin American country and there is no social distancing in place formally as advised by the government.
We are however in a more sobering environment in the UK and the British Boxing Board of Control has, quite rightly, pointed out that whilst the NHS is stretched and will need to recover, sport should not be looking to get back to full swing and cause it more stress; more patience is required.
Whenever boxing does returns, I hope it does so with fighters getting their wage and the fans getting into the venues. The fights wanted by the fans need to be prioritised, rather than still waiting to see what has been easier to organise because one or other of the fighter or their entourage is not playing ball. That would help the sport get back to where it was.
It won’t ease the burden of expectation, but sport makes people feel good, it contributes to the commonweal and makes us all feel good; rather than frustrated.
I also hope it will be when fighters have enough time in a camp to prepare to premium level to go into a ring in front of paying punters. The idea of sport behind closed doors may ensure things are done and boxers get paid, but they shall not be done well. Once this is over, all sport shall begin again from way behind where they were before lockdown. Every sport will need as many advantages as they can get. Whilst we may have to start there and build, the boost of a fight and not reports of a fight over the negotiations are what we really need to get a head start on other distractions which shall be poured over when we can get out the house.
One of the advantages of the adversity we are in is that we have found so many video platforms that YouTube might even quake at what is coming its way – we should all be quaking, shaking and with excitement and anticipation once this is over to get back to…
To return to…
To start and see what we have all wanted for a long time…
Best v Best. Full. Stop.
And no covering that up…