Boxing took a hiatus in New York and there was a call by the promoters and fighters to regroup. Overthrow a ludicrous insurance bond issue that was meant to protect the stars who trade fists and take a punch or two was never clarified.
Well it was clear to the New York State Athletic Commission the same rules did not apply to the MMA/UFC combat sport that can be classified as brutality in a cage. So boxing was shut out and the UFC had a profitable spectacle at Madison Square Garden because their two biggest stars of the sport were headliners.
This is a commentary about boxing and not MMA, so in all due respect the names to protect the innocent will not be mentioned as to who the headline names were. Those in the know need no help with that.
And in the end, boxing was always the premiere sport in New York. The NYSAC came to their senses and cracked the proper deal, so good enough to say that the month of March two premiere shows will be promoted at the “Mecca” known as the Garden and in Brooklyn at Barclays Center.
One MMA show in February. The calendar after that belongs to the sport of kings with a premiere welterweight championship matchup, Danny Garcia against Keith Thurman in Brooklyn March 4th and televised on CBS.
Where is the MMA? Well not in in New York and on consecutive nights at the Garden, St. Patrick’s Day/night belongs to Top Rank in the Garden Theater with the debut of Michael Conlan. The Irish Olympian is the big prize for promoter Bob Arum and a fighter with a big punch, Triple-G, headlines in the main arena the next night with another promotion.
And yes, the promoters are united. Said Todd duBoef, President of Top Rank, when introducing Conlan Wednesday morning at the Garden, “Boxing is where it belongs at the Garden St. Patrick’s night and the night after with Triple-G in the main arena.”
Conlan gets showcased in the adjacent theater and the next night, March 18th on HBO Pay-Per-View, Gennady Golovkin and Daniel Jacobs of Brooklyn have their middleweight title showdown.
So you see, the boxing game will not go down that easy. And in New York, which has seen a decline because of the revenue and appeal of the gambling and casino industry, the fighters and promoters would not go away without a fight.
“Thurman vs. Garcia is the best against the best, which is really what we have to do to elevate our sport to the sport of kings like it once was. We have two kings sitting at this table,” said Lou DiBella the New York based promoter.
And it was DiBella and his “Broadway Boxing Series” with more than six promotions a year in the heart of Times Square, at BB King’s, that has kept the fighters busy. He took the shows to Connecticut as New York went dark in the ring.
He is the co- promoter for Thurman/Garcia in conjunction with the PBC management group that dominates cable televised fight cards as they headline fighters. DiBella takes a loss promoting in New York, but as he says, “This is for the fans.”
Last Saturday, the Showtime televised super middleweight championship fight, a controversial draw between Badou Jack and James DeGale at Barclays Center was a DiBella Co. promotion which got accolades as a early fight of the year candidate.
So indeed the sport of boxing, and rightfully so, is back strong in New York.
Now the question, will this momentum, continue? There is every reason to understand that the NYSAC is once again under the realization that boxing is needed in the state. Shows at the Garden and Barclays Center are revenue producers.
“Eight percent of the tickets in the arena are priced between $150 and $49,” said DiBella when announcing the Thurman-Garcia fight Wednesday afternoon.
They didn’t open the arenas for fans to attend the press conferences. UFC did that and it was a success that filled the Garden in November for their first event staged in New York. And that says a lot because the upcoming fights in New York don’t need all that fanfare.
These are premiere fights that sell themselves. The fans know that, and so do the promoters because boxing has always been the sport of Kings in New York. And with Barclays Center a major player, there is no argument as to why.
Yes, boxing is indeed the sport of Kings in New York. And if you haven’t noticed just check the calendar the next few months and beyond.
The month of June? Top Rank will once again highlight lightweight sensation Felix Verdejo, the pride from Puerto Rico at the Garden on the weekend of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.
Has anyone seen UFC in town? No, because they are not the Sport of Kings in New York.