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Boxing Continued And More…

Amanda Westcott/ Showtime

NEW YORK: “As I had hoped the last remaining events cancelled. Top Rank Boxing Saturday night and Tuesday at the Hulu Theater at the Garden. Good move as I hoped for the safety of the fighters and it was the call coming from the New York State Athletic Commission. Fights will be rescheduled in New York and I would assume a double main event for Stevenson and Conlan. Stay safe!”

And so it was a year ago. That was a post from yours truly on Facebook March 12, 2020. It would be the consecutive boxing cards that saw boxing go dark until further notice everywhere and in New York.

Months later, and in bubble environments Top Rank would resume closed door shows at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas and televised on their ESPN televised platform. Shakur Stevenson got back in the ring at the MGM in June with two wins at the bubble and title opportunities lining up.

Michael Conlan, the rising Top Rank featherweight would have to wait until August and return with a successful win over in the UK.

Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum said boxing would come back strong and Top Rank returned A year later, as the COVID-19 crisis sees light at the end of the tunnel, Top Rank is moving the show out of the “Bubble” and taking their show on the road.

Of course the medical protocols are still in place and more fans are gaining access to indoor or outdoor venues. After all, we are still in that fight to knock out the Coronavirus that suspended boxing and delivered a severe economic blow to the promoters and fighters.

But now, a year later, there appears to be this sign of returning to normalcy as promoters are looking at venues and booking fights. For the past 12 months the many boxing gyms went dark and some will never open their doors again. Fighters that were busy have gone on to pursue other careers as their quest to become the next champion or rising star was put on hold.

Yes, boxing sustained a hard punch.

But Top Rank was the leader as Arum delivered 32 shows. Prior to Teofimo Lopez taking his business elsewhere, he became the youngest champion to unify the lightweight title and dethroned Vasiliy Lomachenko.

Fleix Verdejo returned with success, Terence Crawford defended his welterweight title and Edward Berlanga became a knockout sensation in the “Bubble.” as did Oscar Valdez and Miguel Berchelt deliver the suspense featherweight title fight.

COVID-19 was a battle to keep the fighters and personnel safe as the other sports took notice and slowly saw boxing as the leader as the first to resume during a global pandemic.

And in the weeks and months that followed, it was the PBC on Showtime and FOX in closed door venues along with Matchroom over in the UK. Though, slowly there was that sense to fight as Matchroom and Golden Boy took the shows outdoors and followed medical protocols in COVID territory states of Texas and Florida.

Many said it would be a risk but the fights commenced with a title defense and return of Errol Spence Jr. And we have seen Canelo Alvarez the face of boxing fight two times during the pandemic on DAZN as he continues to cement a legacy.

But it will be difficult to say that boxing is back to normal. Fans want the major fights and an opportunity to see them up front and close, and many of those usual venues are limiting their capacity of ticket sales or remain dark for events.

Though, reportedly, Madison Square Garden is planning to open the doors again to boxing fans in June under the Top Rank banner. How many fans, the arena or adjacent Hulu Theatre? All remains to be determined and thall depends on NY state and medical protocols. Regardless, boxing stopped last March in New York and could see a nice return in June,

Though the pandemic put an ultimate conclusion to the successful PBC run at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and there have been no reports of a return as most of the boxing division has been terminated at the venue.

As for those fights fans want to see? For now, New York may be second on the list as promoters are trying to secure dates that will open the doors for fans and revenue that are an intricate part of live events.

We may have to wait a little longer to see an inevitable clash between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua for the heavyweight titles and that could occur in the UK when it is clear to fill Wembley with 75,000 rabid fans. Though. Lopez and Alvarez are pursuing their goals to unify titles and continue to make boxing history in front of lively crowds as the pandemic appears to be in the home stretch.

And the clash to determine the best at 147 may never happen. Between the logistics and getting a major gate, Crawford and Spence may go in another direction with different plans out of the welterweight division.

But let’s get back to basics. Boxing has survived many times in one crisis after another and I was one of those skeptics that did not envision what we have seen during the ongoing pandemic.

I was wrong and perhaps you were also. But when there is money involved and careers at stake the sport of boxing and the personnel involved always seem to fight the battle and win.

THROWING THE PUNCHES: Former two-time world champion David Benavidez kept his perfect ring record intact with an 11th-round technical knockout victory against veteran Ronald Ellis in their WBC Super Middleweight Title Eliminator main event on Saturday night’s Showtime championship boxing telecast, live from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., in a Premier Boxing Champions event.

Phoenix’s Benavidez (24-0, 21 KOs) flashed brilliant hand speed, accuracy and power as he dominated Ellis (18-2-2, 12 KOs) of Lynn, Mass., over 11 rounds before referee Johnny Callas finally waved off the fight at 2:03 of the penultimate round. The 24-year-old star held a significant lead on all three scorecards (99-91, 98-92 x2) at the time of the stoppage.

“I rate my performance pretty good but I know I could have done better,” said Benavidez, who extended his perfect record to 24-0. “Ronald Ellis is a tough competitor. I just hope the fans like what they saw. I threw a lot of combinations, punches in bunches. There were a lot of times I thought Ellis was going to quit but he didn’t. Hats off to him, he’s a tough guy. It was a little later than I wanted but a stoppage is still a stoppage. I hope the fans got a good show tonight.”

A boxing prodigy turned youngest super middleweight world champion in boxing history, Benavidez turned in a masterful performance as evidenced by his punch stats, landing 289 of 532 power punches thrown for an eye-popping connection rate of 54%. Benavidez connected on 50 punches in the 11th round which ultimately led to the stoppage. Both fighters combined to throw 1,403 punches. Following his dominating win on SHOWTIME, Benavidez is one step closer to reclaiming a super middleweight world title.

“I want all the big guys,” Benavidez added. “Speaking for the fans too, they would love to see me against all the big guys because as you can see, I love throwing punches. I love stopping people so me versus any big name would be an amazing fight. I want [Jermall] Charlo, Canelo Alvarez, Caleb Plant, all of them.”

In the co-main event, Issac Cruz (21-1-1, 15 KOs) of Mexico City earned a unanimous decision victory over Argentina’s Matias Romero (24-1, 8 KOs) in a 12-round WBA Lightweight Title Eliminator. It marked the first time that the 22-year-old Cruz went 12 rounds in his professional career. The judges’ scorecards read 114-113, 115-112 and 118-109.

“I’m not happy about the style of the fight but I am satisfied I took the victory home and we’ve come to the No. 1 spot in the WBA,” said Cruz. “I didn’t know what was going to happen [as far as the judges]. We forced the fight at all times and it would have been very impossible for the judges to do something to me when I was the one pushing the fight.”

WBC super flyweight champ Juan Francisco “El Gallo Estrada (42-3, 28 KOs) out of Hermosillo, Mexico slugged it out with WBA super flyweight titlist Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (50-3, 41 KOs) out of Managua, Nicaragua for WBC/WBA unification in Dallas, Texas at the American Airlines Center, shown live on DAZN.

It was the long-awaited rematch from November, 2012, when Gonzalez retained his light flyweight title in a twelve round unanimous decision. Estrada won via split decision in what could be fight of the year candidate The fight was close and two judges had it 115-113, 117-111 for Estrada and 115-113 for Gonzalez. After the fight there were immediate talks about setting up a trilogy and boxing fans after this latest classic are all for that…

MARVIN HAGLER: Marvin Hagler was “Marvelous” and in an era when boxing had premiere fights that revolved around him, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, and Roberto Duran.
Hagler suddenly passed away Saturday. The 66-year old Hall of Famer held the middleweight title from 1980-1987 and never fought out of that weight class and today that is another of those unheard aspects as fighters like to test the waters and seek for titles in different divisions as the money is there to do so.

A top 10 all-time fighter in my book. RIP Champ

THIS DAY IN BOXING HISTORY: March 13, 1961 – Floyd Patterson knocked out Ingemar Johansson in the sixth round to retain his world heavyweight title at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring78 Mancuso

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