NY Sports Day

John Guapo Maresca arrived at his store front  Big Time Bouts Boxing Club Wednesday in Carteret, New Jersey and like others in the boxing community had second thoughts about the sport. 

Thoughts and prayers were extended to the family and friends of Patrick Day, the 27-year old welterweight from Freeport Long Island who passed away Tuesday after suffering a traumatic brain injury. Patrick was the fourth pro fighter to die  this year after sustaining injuries during a fight. 

This was contested for a USBA title bout that was televised on the DAZN streaming network from the Wintrust Arena in Chicago. Knocked down three times, and the last one proved to be fatal as Day’s head bounced on the canvas.

Maresca, a long time safety and conscious trainer, advisor, ,promoter posted on his Instagram page the benefits of boxing. It was dedicated to Patrick Day and to every fighter who takes that risk:

It reads: MIND: Memory retention, Confidence, Self Control, Problem Solving, Adaption. BODY: Balance, Coordination, Flexibility, Muscle Tone, Endurance, Spirit: Patience, Respect, Integrity, Humility. Perseverance.

That was Patrick Day, a young man who had a goal to be a champion and also had a trainer and mentor, Joe Higgins, that was conscious of safety. Boxing also taught Patrick Day the discipline. 

The great sport of boxing  mourns the loss of another fighter. They remember Patrick Day and everyone has the same opinion about how respectful and gracious he was in and out of the ring.

Except, and repeated often, the sport is a risk. His promoter, New York based Lou diBella, the longtime boxing executive and promoter is distraught. Higgins has closed his gym in Freeport and in seclusion. This loss is the most difficult one to cope with.  

 Patrick Day and Higgins had that father-son relationship. It was the boxer and trainer that always become best of friends and family. DiBella in this extensive statement said:

“It becomes very difficult to explain away or justify the dangers of boxing at a time like this,” DiBella said. “This is not a time where edicts or pronouncements are appropriate, or the answers are readily available. It is, however, a time for a call to action. While we don’t have the answers, we certainly know many of the questions, have the means to answer them, and have the opportunity to respond responsibly and accordingly and make boxing safer for all who participate.

RIP Patrick Day

But like 500 other pro fighters who have died since boxing became recognized in 1884, many sustained from injuries to the brain, there is that call for better safety measures.  

Was this one a canvas on the ring that was too hard? Or that mishap and risk that a fighter knows could happen each and everytime they go to a gym to spar?  Eventually many enter a ring at the arena under the bright lights knowing the risk and realizing their safety is at risk.

And every pro fighter today, including those scheduled for bouts this weekend on  the streaming networks of DAZN and ESPN Plus, will have Patrick Day on their mind.

There will be those moments of silence and the customary 10-round toll of the bell for another fighter no longer with us. But deep in mind are those second thoughts as to why they do what they do.

Why do they do this for a living or a hobby and take numerous punches to the head? And what can be done to improve the safety measures that are in place and reviewed more everytime a fighter sustains a fatal injury and is no longer a part of the fraternity. 

Frank Galarza, the 34-year old junior middleweight and nine-year professional from Sunset Park Brooklyn said, “It’s the risk of the fighter, and the coaches.  It’s the punishment through training camp. That’s where it starts too. “

And many times the coaches are watching in the gym. The sparring sessions become the competition and sometimes the opponent could come from another fight camp. You can blame many trainers and those in the corners that are more concerned about the win, who is the better fighter.

Galarza, at a time was a sparring partner with Patrick Day, developed that fight fraternity of a friendship and is convinced this was the risk a fighter takes.  

“We’re too strong for our own good,” he said. “We’re just brave mentally   It’s hard to take that away.” Galarza, with 25 pro fights, (20-3-2, 12 K0’s) is waiting for his next opportunity and with anticipation. 

Again, he knows there is that risk. He knows Patrick Day always knew that risk factor as does every fighter. But that Is hard to take away from family, friends, and those who would rather see their sons and daughters not get in the ring. 

Patrick Day did take a lot of punches early in his last fight with Charles Conwell. His previous bout back in June, a 10-round decision and loss to Carlos Adames, he also absorbed a good amount of punches.

But with all the safety measures in place, and  with ringside physicians and a referee watching up close, the fight continued. Again, it’s the risk, though this latest fatality leads to more scrutiny about a sport that is always questioned about punches  administered to the head with or without the use of headgear.

It’s an issue now that will get more scrutiny over the next few days as Patrick Day is remembered as this good guy in boxing who left us much too soon, 

“I seen from the  first round he was taken a little punishment,” said Galarza who also trains the young and aspiring fighters at the Training Sweat Box facility in Brooklyn. And the fights will continue because boxing has seen these fatalities and survived.

But there may need to be better  safety measures and more than the ones that are in place. The question is how can it be done and who will attempt to put a  dent on enforcing a quicker knockdown down rule, perhaps reduce the number of rounds?

Maybe seek improvements of the ring canvas to a softer version from the hard, though the ring has not been ruled as a reason why Patrick Day sustained an injury to the brain that took his life as all boxing rings from inside to the outsides are inspected for approval before fight time.

“The ring is fine if you ask me,” said Galarza. “It’s the sport itself. You don’t know where to look; where to start.”

Though the start here is remembering Patrick Day. Keep his name and family in your prayers during this difficult time. And do that because the sport of boxing will continue. 

And like the others who have taken the risk, Patrick Day will be remembered as the young man who decided boxing was the way to go.

Rest In Peace Always Patrick Day.

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