Mancuso: The Boxing Community Fights To Get Their Sport Back in New York

New York based boxing promoter Lou DiBella is never one to hold back opinions about the sport and issues. Boxing is his love and passion and over the years Broadway Boxing has been a consistent staple that showcases up and coming fighters that get to show their skills before the home crowd.

But this has been a quiet year for boxing in New York. DiBella and other promoters have taken their business elsewhere because of a complicated insurance issue that is difficult to comprehend as the popular UFC/MMA sport has quickly gained popularity and sold out Madison Square Garden last week.

It seems a bit unfair. Boxing is shut out of New York because promoters are unable to go for the cost of putting up a ludicrous million dollar insurance fee per fighter that puts them out of the box, while the UFC that staged their first event in New York can go on.

Traumatic brain injury insurance is a good thing for boxing with issues and safety concerns.  However the inequity of how this works has the boxing community fighting back because it comes down to dollars and “Sense.”

And cents in financial terms meaning  boxing, the fighters, fans and all that benefit from the sport have a reason to fight back. The New York State Athletic Commission has the strict guidelines and safety measures in place for fighters and promoters, and other state jurisdictions that stage boxing events can’t be compared.

But here is the issue: Boxing is shut out because getting an underwriter to support $1 million per fighter is not affordable. The MMA/UFC event that took place at the Garden, their first event in New York,  costs promoters under $2,000 for 26 fighters on a 13-bout card that is held in a ring known as the Octagon.

And the brutal sport of MMA was always an issue with NY state officials with fears of a catastrophe in their arenas. But revenue has won their fight and maybe more.

So DiBella and other promoters who want to keep the fighters busy, and make minimal profit doing so, have a reason to be perplexed. More so, there is every reason to understand the anger and frustration with the inequity of insurance costs and what is behind the reasoning.

“There should be a Federal investigation what MMA did,” said DiBella Wednesday afternoon at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  He was there with Floyd Mayweather Jr. the undefeated and retired champion and face of boxing, as both went ahead to announce a January 14th skeptical return of boxing to New York at Barclays Center.

“There is a little risk here,” said DiBella. “Mayweather took the shot and got involved.”

The risk is securing an underwriter for this obvious and tactical way of getting boxing out of New York.  Mayweather, with his own promotion and a bag load of money, can take a risk. But for how much? That is the risk as a main event was announced to be televised on Showtime that has super middleweight champion Badou Jack in a unification bout against James DeGale.

That is an early and great fight for fans in the new year, and one that a struggling sport needs to cause a buzz.   In the meantime, the MMA with this increasing popularity is moving along with securing more events in New York, and the UFC/MMA spent time and money on efforts in convincing legislators to lift their ban of promoting at venues such as the Garden and Barclays.

DiBella would say a risk, and you can comprehend that as a show of force of fighting for the sport. Or this can be another boxing show that gets scrapped, that is, unless the NYSAC and whatever it takes drops the unfair insurance premium down to a level that is comparable to the UFC requirement.

Indirectly, and with cause for speculation. DiBella was advocating an investigation. And with that, there is suspicion of foul play and something that does not smell right when it comes to dollars and cents.

In the meantime. DiBella and other promoters that generate revenue and pay hefty fees to New York State, are taking their business elsewhere. The Broadway Boxing Series has moved to Foxwoods Resort up in Connecticut where insurance for fighters is reasonable though safety measure are not comparable to New York.

DiBella brought up a good point about safety with various pro fighters standing by his side. They, who have had an impact with boxing in New York, are also at risk.

“Not helping the safety and protection of fighters going to other states that pose a safety issue, explained DiBella. “We want an explanation, the state Assembly and Governor’s office. People can’t earn a living til it’s fixed. Something funky is going on and it needs to be fixed.”

And until it is fixed, fighters will continue to go elsewhere and revenue that would benefit the fight community and their cause also goes to another place. They said, if it were not for Mayweather and Showtime, there would be no plan to go ahead with getting some boxing action back to New York.

Mercedes Vasquez, President of Pretty Girl Promotions has taken her business to North Carolina and proceeding with plans to stage amatuer boxing events in New York, as that comes under totally different guidelines.

“But is totally unfair,” she says, “That we have to take our business elsewhere and MMA goes on.”  Though DiBella does not promote MMA events, Vasquez does to keep her business going, and Heather Hardy a well known name associated with New York boxing flirts with both sports.

She will now have to get in the cage, though boxing is her passion and love, But, there is no alternative because of an unfair and unjustified insurance rule.

And Boyd Melson the WBC-USNBC junior middleweight champion, a humanitarian that has helped raise over $400,000 for Spinal Cord injury Research will fight Saturday night at Foxwoods on a DiBella card that was supposed to be in New York.  His entire  purse is donated to the cause of fighting a heroin epidemic in Staten Island.

However, boxing is shut out in New York as the MMA goes on, Yes, there is a risk for DiBella and Mayweather as they fight for the cause to save boxing in New York.

It is a risk they take and they love the sport but the MMA is taking over. And apparently the NYSAC and those who rule up in Albany feel the same as an unjustified insurance issue continues to be the fight for a boxing community.

Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected]  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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