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 Boxing in the Age of the New Normal: 2020 in Review

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  •  Boxing in the Age of the New Normal: 2020 in Review

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    By Ted Sares

    Not everything in 2020 revolved around Teofimo Lopez’s surprise win over Vasyl Lomachenko or Tyson Fury’s destruction of Deontay Wilder. And yes, fighting in a Bubble enabled boxing to feature some other fabulous stuff like Gervonta Davis’s scary KO of Leo Santa Cruz. But as elite judge Joe Pasquale notes, “boxing needs that energy of the live gate.”

    The incredible war between Jose Zepeda and Ivan Baranchyk in the Bubble at the MGM in Las Vegas (eight knockdowns in five rounds!) occurred this year and now joins Norkus-Nardico, Moore Durelle, Foreman-Lyle, Cooper-Moorer, and Ahmad-Muriqi as an all-time Pier Six brawl.

    “Canelo” came back as a stalking, ring-closing, body punching phenom to dominate another member of the UK’s Smith family.

    Spence came back from the Crash, ‘Bud’ remained undefeated, and Porter looms. A Ryan Garcia vs. Devin Haney fight – now very possible – would be a turbo-charger for boxing.

    Super Middleweight Edgar Berlanga (16-0 with 16 first round KO’s) has sparked much interest but he is no Valero and likely will be exposed when he steps up. However, Super Welterweight Tim Tszyu appears to be the real McCoy.

    In August, Alexander Povetkin snatched victory from certain defeat when he sent Dillian Whyte to dreamland with a sneaky and well-leveraged uppercut at Eddie Hearn’s “Fight Camp” at the Matchroom headquarters in suburban London. Again, it was in the safety net of bubble-like conditions. (Ironically, the Russian tested positive weeks later for Covid, preventing a planned rematch.)

    One name that warrants attention is that of Clay Collard (9-3-3) who fought six times in 2020 despite Covid concerns, winning five and beating several prospects in the process. He is a throwback type and will only get better.

    There was much, much more that occurred in boxing during the year and fans did not lack for solid headline events, but these all occurred at the deceptive tip or top of an iceberg.

    On The Female Front

    Katie Taylor continued to shine, Jessica McCaskill exposed Cecilia Braekus, and Terri Harper and Natasha Jonas put on a true classic when they warred in August at the aforementioned Matchroom Fight Camp. But coronavirus-related measures derailed popular Brooklyn-born boxer Heather “The Heat” Hardy (22-1) who hasn’t fought since September of 2019. “New York boxing is the forgotten sport," said Hardy in a July interview with BBC News. Brooklyn’s great Amanda Serrano (39-1-1) fought just last month, but that was in Santo Domingo.

    Bottom of Iceberg

    "Why can they train in California but [we] can't do it in New York? Do they know something we don't know?" -- Martin Snow, Owner of Trinity Boxing

    As the onion gets peeled, it’s clear that the infrastructure and underbody of boxing has taken a brutal hit—there is no sugar-coating the closing of gyms and the lack of work for referees, judges, trainers, cornermen, and commentators. The negative trickle effect has not spared boxing. Even attending state Halls of Fame events has become virtually impossible (pun intended). In fact, as elite referee Ron Lipton notes, boxing has been shut down in New York since March. (Interestingly, Ron refereed the Co-Main Event at the last pro boxing show in New York State on March 7, 2020 at Barclay Center.)

    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced, “…based on new data, that gyms and salons were not identified as superspreaders and could therefore reopen…”

    It has become an on-again, off-again situation that makes planning extremely difficult. Indeed, as stated on the web site of the legendary Gleason’s Gym: “All Gym Events Scheduled From The Date Of Closing Through The End Of The Year Are Currently Being Reviewed For Re-Scheduling Under The Governmental Guidelines.”

    "Now that we're open again, it's like, when are we going to close?" -- Amy Bueme, owner of Catalyst Fitness in Buffalo

    There are ways to address this issue but without a live gate, the solutions are daunting. "We generate probably 30 to 40% from gate revenue so it's how we compensate for that. Fingers crossed it doesn't get to that." -- Frank Warren

    Eric Gomez, the president of Golden Boy Promotions summed it up this way in a June conversation with Los Angeles Times sports columnist Dylan Hernandez: “As soon as you accept that it’s a new world and you have to take precautions, you have to be safe, you have to wear your face mask, social distance, all that stuff, the better off you’re going to be…The people that don’t want to accept it, the people that want to go back to the way it was, are going to have a hard time with it. It goes for boxing, too. The fighters that accept it, that there’s a new normal, the better off they’re going to be.”

    In the final analysis, the new vaccines that are on the way represent the best solution for all. In the meantime, there is a new normal and most of boxing is caught in the crosshairs.

    Photo credit: Ed Mulholland / Matchroom Boxing

    Ted Sares can be reached at

    Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel

  • #2
    This just in from Charlie Norkus: "Thank You Ted for the mention once again. The article is a sad one detailing the state of boxing throughout the Country and especially New York. As outgoing President of Ring 8 (eff 12/31/2020) I can tell you first hand the hit on New York boxing has been huge. Yes, the elite are getting their scruffs in, but the total loss in the sport is not reflected by those fights. Before Covid, New York fight scene had a pretty good thriving young fighters who plied their wares in hopes of making the big time. Now There is none. Nil. Nada. Some are still training but at a heavy cost of not getting paid for their hard work. My father once told me and I remember it well as I support youth boxing in New Jersey and New York each year in many ways. My father said " Amateurs are the acorn that all boxing trees grow upon, without them the sport cant thrive, much less survive" Also the 4 rounders are not existing either. I do feel the sport will survive but at a cost of what marketable talent will come forth out of it for a couple of years. We hope and Pray. Your Friend Charlie Norkus Jr."


    • Kid Blast
      Kid Blast commented
      Editing a comment
      Bernard Fernandez says: "Way to wrap up the year that was, or mostly wasn't. Let us all hope that 2021 brings better and happier times."

  • #3
    Jeffrey A Freeman says: “Thank God and President Trump for WARp speeding this miracle vaccine against the biological weapon of mass destruction deployed by communist China against the free world. Boxing is just more collateral damage resulting from China’s attack.”


    • Kid Blast
      Kid Blast commented
      Editing a comment

  • #4
    "Thx Ted, great article. You mentioned Moore vs Durelle... did You know Tinker Picot? Tommy Grace"

    "Sure did and I know he fought the Canadian twice." Tinker could punch but Durelle was way too much for him."


    • Kid Blast
      Kid Blast commented
      Editing a comment
      He was a Great guy!! I drive by his grave once a week. Next time I’m up to N Conway, love to grab coffee

  • #5
    Hmmm. Back in. Lot's has happened during the "blackout?