Consider the consequences of pro boxing and a COVID-19 shutdown which seems like a distant memory but the entire sport sustained a financial loss. Promoters had a contingency plan for the fighters and television network commitments with clearance to abide by COVID protocols that also included closed door venues.
Two years later the sport appears to be healthy. The midpoint of a year concluded with major championship fights, sold out venues, and solid televised and streaming record numbers of loyal fans.
And that official midpoint of the Boxing season, though at a conclusion, remains busy. Promoters are discussing mega fights for the second half of the calendar year.
New York is back in business and this week continued to send a message as a hotbed for the sport as another main attraction was announced for next month at Madison Square Garden. In two weeks, July 30, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, two division world champion Danny Garcia returns and tests the junior welterweight division, opposing Jose Benavidez Jr. as a main event on Showtime Championship Boxing.
Heavyweight Adam Kownacki, had a distinction of main eventing the last Barclays Center Boxing show in March 2020, then a few days later the doors were closed for boxing in New York and quickly worldwide. Then, he lost a heavyweight title eliminator to Robert Helenius in front of a nearly sold out hometown crowd.
“I want to be active again,” said Kownacki at an open workout in Brooklyn Wednesday afternoon to promote his upcoming co-main event bout on the Garcia card. “I’m focused on this win, and then we can talk about getting back in the ring early next year. It’s tunnel-vision on July 30.”
That tunnel vision is getting a win versus Turkish Olympian Ali Eren Demirezen and once again being a part of the heavyweight title mix. And his fight is one part of this New York hotbed for boxing. Promoters are seeking dates as venues such as the Garden and Barclays are hungry for their business also providing fans with their appetite to see more.
In the case of Garcia, always a draw at Barclays, this will be another homecoming of sorts. HIs contingent of fans take a drive up the Turnpike from Philadelphia as Garcia returns to the ring after nearly a year-and-a-half long hiatus since a welterweight title loss to Errol Spence Jr.
So, Garcia is once again in the spotlight. As is Kownacki, the Polish born fighter, who still resides in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn and also brings in a contingent of supporters.
“I really appreciate the fans who have been there to support me,” I know Barclays Center is going to be red and white. I’m excited to feel that atmosphere. Those fans keep me motivated mentally. Right now, I’m just focused on Demirezen. That’s the man in front of me. I have to tear down that wall that’s in front of me. That’s all I’m focused on.”
“I’m facing a strong Olympian who’s got good size, so I’m expecting a great fight,” Kownacki said. “It’s going to be a good test for me, but I’m looking to ace it and move on to better things. Right now, Demirezen has all of my attention.”
Strong enough words for a heavyweight and comeback fight in Brooklyn. Those who call the shots now at Barclays Center, in particular the higher ups that coordinate boxing, are continuing a commitment to keep boxing strong at the venue and Showtime with the PBC has always been a good partner.
A week later the hotbed continues across the East River at Madison Square Garden. True, the Garden is the Mecca as promoters and fighters want to fight there. Then again, it’s not about the competition and more about retaining New York as a major hotbed for the sport.
Garden boxing officials couldn’t pass up a return of media sensation and pro fighter Jake Paul. Four months ago, at the Garden, Paul (5-0) parading around as a heavyweight, and then female lightweight champion Amanda Serrano, made boxing history
Serrano was the first female to main event at the Garden under the Jake Paul promotional banner. The event set a gate record and also over 1 million pay-per-view purchases.
So this time, Saturday August 6, Paul and Serrano will main event at the Garden on a card that will be televised on Showtime Pay-Per-View and streamed on other platforms.
Though I am not a fan of Jake, or Logan, the other brother, who signed a lucrative contract as a WWE performer, it is difficult to not understand why he is always welcome to the New York hotbed of boxing. Forget that Jake has not fought a legitimate pro fighter, he is a mega star when it comes to selling out venues, a bonanza with PPV and ratings because of his popularity.
This time, though, Paul opposes Hasim Rahman Jr. (12-1, 6 KOs) the son of the former heavyweight contender. The two faced off at the Garden Tuesday and that was a hotbed as they jawed back and forth to the delight of Garden executives.
In other words. Paul needs no hype to sell. Neither does Serrano, who defends her featherweight titles that were never lost. She also has a contingent of fans and followers from Puerto Rico and her hometown of Brooklyn.
“I’m the one giving you credibility,” Rahman Jr. said to Paul. “Who have you fought? You haven’t fought anybody. You fought champions in the NBA and MMA but no boxers.”
To which Paul responded, “He’s going to beat up by a singer, a musician, a seashell collector, an amateur, a Disney boy, a YouTuber, I’m all of these things.”
Yes, indeed the hotbed of boxing is here in New York.
Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso “Sports With Rich ” and co-host Robert Rizzo live every Tuesday evening 10pm ET on SLG Network via YouTube also available on Spotify. Like, Comment, Subscribe: Rich Mancuso YouTube