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Category: boxing

This Boxing Gym Has A Leader Who Continues His Goals

Under that one roof we all at peace. it’s a chain. A strong chain.  

Eric Kelly said those words. He is not a political leader or an activist. This is a 39 year-old in the boxing industry who believes in the community and all for youth.

So as the nation tries to heal from the unfortunate and tragic death of George Floyd, and with an ongoing pandemic from COVID-19, Kelly is hard at work at reopening his boxing gym in the South Bronx.

He is witnessing the hardships of those in pain from his windows in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, That area of New York City has been a scene of protests and uprisings.  In the meantime, Kelly is monitoring the latest to reopen a boxing gym that has moved to a new location.

Before the pandemic “South Box” was a thriving boxing gym in a busy district off 134th Street and Bruckner Boulevard. The kids had an outlet after school and on weekends 

He had to move locations and start all over. The past three years his gym space was rented, but the building will be torn down as the South Bronx continues to make a transition to big business and residential housing. 

Kelly is aware of changes in health protocols when the go ahead comes to resume his successful training and educational ground for aspiring fighters, at a new location off 138th Street and Lincoln Avenue. 

 “We can’t let anyone in certain times,” he said about social distancing  laws. “We got to do safety first, six or eight people at a time.”

When this former amatuer champion started a sole initiative, he opened the doors early and closed late. He hopes that will continue and also continue his good relationship with the local police precinct in the community in bridging that gap with youth and the NYPD.

Of course, as Kelly says, boxing can continue to help bridge that gap with the community and NYPD.  Learning and discipline is a part of the sport and that applies more to the few and far between boxing gyms that remain.

“Boxing teaches you discipline and professionalism,” he says. “It gives you structure.  Great workout teaches you a skill, more importantly it’s a structure and discipline being able to listen.  We are able to be taught.”  

Not too long ago, an era of the 80’s and 90’s, Kelly learned the craft when boxing gyms were a hot bed in the city. His trainer, George Washington, known for his structure of discipline, guided his path.

He became a four-time national champion in various weight classes and credits boxing that earned him a degree from Northern Michigan University.  

Regardless, the outcome of this pandemic will come soon.  Kelly has a plan to retain as many members as he can.Provide any youngster that seeks boxing the opportunity to train for free.  He has done that in the past at the old location.

 A program “Pizza Box” will continue for nearby kids in the community. 

“The fact, we been good to our members, staff, and trainers,” he says. “ You can’ hold a good thing back. We’re not going to sink, Good quality will preserve.” 

His gym has seen two NYC Golden Gloves finalists and one that earned a gold medal. Numerous metro tournament champions and pro fighters who depended on that city boxing gym are regulars. 

 Peter Dobson, junior welterweight from the Bronx is one. Travis Peterkin, Gledwin Ortiz, and Christina Cruz, a  2020 Olympic qualifier is another.

“In New York City, boxing gyms turned its back on the youth, “ Kelly says. 

He has a point. PAL programs, funded by the city, were without a budget. The independent owners had difficulty making ends meet and the minimal number of grants caused them to close.

And there is a concern, now, that the pandemic will cause more gyms to shut their doors for good because of changes. Many are not able to stay afloat after gyms in the city were mandated to close in mid March.

But SouthBox continues the plan to reopen at a new location. Eric Kelly says It will be bigger and better and have it no other way. He will continue to stress discipline and keep that peace in his community.

“We are in the last cycle,” he says. 

Comment: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

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Boxing Notebook During the Pandemic

Stop the madness about Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield returning for another fight that is all good for the nostalgia. It’s not good for boxing and for the safety of these former heavyweight champions of another era.

It comes down to fans and the networks that are hungry for some live boxing. In due time when this coronavirus pandemic is cleared, and safe for all, the anticipated boxing calendar of 2020 will resume.

Boxing fans want to see a Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder trilogy in the heavyweight division. They crave to see Anthony Joshua defend his part of the heavyweight title.  They want Teofimo Lopez and Vasiliy Lomachenko to fight for the lightweight title.  

A third fight with Tyson and Holyfield? As the late sports scribe Dick Young used to write, “What’s going on here?”

What is going on are any number of possibilities that have come to this point of a nostalgia fight that has no significance for the sport.  One scenario is that promoters and a network want to do this.

A possible and  minimal pay-per-view price, looking to make a quick dollar and taking advantage of doing something for the hunger of fight fans does not help the sport.

The other factors here are Tyson and Holyfield. They need the cash flow. It’s no secret that Tyson is serious and always in a financial hole. It’s also known, Holyfield, is no different when it comes to his finances with a promotion “Real Deal” that went bankrupt. 

The purses and numbers for both would not challenge or equal  Floyd  Mayweather- Manny Pacquiao. Not in the same category of McGregor-Mayweather, Spence and Porter or any of the PBC top welterweights.

So all of this talk is absurd.  In the meantime, Tyson continues to post his workout videos on social media.  Holyfield, if he can be understood, is quietly saying he is ready for a third challenge against Tyson.

What  we have here are two of the iconic and former heavyweight champions with names that are enshrined at the Boxing Hall of Fame. They had their time and are better at promoting the sport.

Though, Holyfield was not successful as a promoter and reportedly is in financial debt which could explain taking a quick payday with Tyson. 

But fighting again, as much as the nostalgia nuts want it, is detrimental to them and the sport. What boxing does not need are two legends over the age of 50 and taking blows to the head. Neither no longer have the skills or stamina that made them two of the top heavyweights in their heyday.

Dangerous would be the punches.  This, according to the medical experts,  is definitely headed to severe and dangerous implications when it comes to taking more blows to the head and areas of the brain.

Studies over the years have indicated a fighter in the ring over the age of 40 is more susceptible when it comes to sustaining injuries to the head and brain.

ESPN and Top Rank have reportedly been close to being cleared to stage three fight cards next month at the MGM Grand Casino In Las Vegas. No fans, testing and temperature checks, a limited number of personnel that would be at the venue.

Live boxing and the current fighters,  give or take that safety is cleared, is a matter of time. Though, it won’t be the same and not the norm before the pandemic hit. 

But Holyfield-Tyson again? Please, give us a break. I won’t watch or care and neither should you. Safety here is the issue. Boxing does not need a disaster and not during this pandemic.

THROWING THE PUNCHES:  A source with the New York State Athletic Commission informed thenyextra.com that boxing events in New York State are still a long way from resuming at venues. That same source said that there are no events that have been filed by promoters with the commission.

The state athletic commission that has jurisdiction of pro boxing and UFC events in New York, also has a minimal office staff working remote from home and has furloughed their part time staff.

Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center, the main venues that host major boxing with promoters from Top Rank and the PBC, are also dark and possibly will stay that way during the duration of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Regardless, a partial opening of business in New York would not include the Garden and Barclays Center. The other factor, unlikely, is opening doors and no fans would be in attendance. 

And a major source of revenue for the boxing promoter are gate receipts that pay for athletic commission fees and officials. Also, tickets sold mean revenue and assist with paying purses of the respective fighters that are scheduled to be in the ring.

Top Rank was hoping to promote a major lightweight title fight at the Garden in September that would highlight champions Teofimo Lopez and Vasiliy Lomachenko. Lopez, a popular champion from Hondorus, and residing in Brooklyn, has a huge fan base and a sell-out crowd would be expected. 

Boxing gyms, a major part of the training and the stepping stone, remain closed in the New York City and  tri-state area. That has fighters, trainers, and those who depend on the sport in a bad position.

Published here a month ago, it was stated many gyms would not survive the pandemic and outcomes of the economic crisis they face. In the past week many owners of the gyms said they likely won’t reopen with the overhead.

USA Boxing, a feeder system for the gyms does not have enough revenue to assist with financing which makes it more difficult to reopen. 

Memberships will drop as young and aspiring fighters can’t afford gym dues. The gyms that could reopen will look vastly different with social distancing, and requirements of wearing face masks along with constant sanitizing of equipment and boxing gear will be the new norm.

In the meantime, fans starving for boxing won’t expect any live boxing events in New York State anytime soon,

Comment: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Jimmy Glenn Was Mr. Boxing In His Corner

Jimmy Glenn was associated with boxing as a cut man and trainer. You knew Jimmy,  he welcomed you as family. You didn’t know him and that did not matter. You see he was an original.

NYS Boxing Hall of Fame /Jimmy Glenn and son

Glenn passed away Wednesday night at the age of 89 due to complications from the Coronavirus. He is the latest member of the New York boxing community to pass away from the virus. 

Francisco Mendez and Nelson Cuevas, associated with the Mendez Boxing Gym, in the Flatiron district, passed away the past two weeks Mendez was a role model and established a gym that was considered one of the best in boxing. 

Cuevas, a mentor,  worked many corners for fighters and was the  second father to many of the aspiring fighters that came to him. 

Jimmy Glenn, a friend to many also established “Jimmy’s Corner” a popular bar and meeting spot for those in the fight community. For 47-years, Glenn, would greet and meet and there was always a good story on the agenda. 

But this Coronavirus does not care about those who care. It does not care about those involved with boxing, all sports, or any other industry and is suffering one way or the other.

Enough of that for now, because this is about Jimmy Glenn. He fought his battle to the last night. He was about boxing and those in the sport know how to battle to the last round. 

Though Glenn had some lingering health issues that were under control, he was that warrior we get to know and admire in the sport. He was invincible, would never lose a fight with medical issues, his business, and in a debate about boxing now and then.

 He worked with champions.  Floyd Patterson, Howard Davis Jr., Terrance AlIi, and Mark McPherson. There were many more fighters, too many to mention, who admired his knowledge and passion.  The proud moment was opening the Times Square Boxing Club that eventually closed due to that area of Manhattan going under renovation.

Regardless, you could always, as usual, see Jimmy at his place, He sat outside on a nice day a few blocks from the theatre district.  Inside, behind the bar and holding court on a stool as they discussed the sport he loved it was Jimmy holding court. 

Years ago and after a press conference in Manhattan, with my mentor, Bert Randolph Sugar, boxing historian and author, we visited Jimmy’s Corner. That was the normal spot for Bert and it  was that passion Jimmy had for him. 

There was Jimmy at the bar. He asked, “Hello, I’m Jimmy and you are?” Of course, I could not get a word in. That was Bert Sugar who  made the introduction.

But Jimmy said, “Let the young man speak Bert.” We had a laugh. Jimmy and Bert were good friends and not media colleagues.

However, if you were a member of the boxing media, as the fraternity we were then, the usual stop after a press conference or boxing show at Madison Square Garden was to have a drink and talk boxing with Jimmy. 

Never had a bad word to say about those who had that tarnished reputation in the sport, including Halll of Fame promoter Don King. He admired Mike Tyson and had his thoughts about the exploits of Don and Mike.

Jimmy Glenn always had a good story. He could analyze a championship fight, better than the award winning writers at ringside and the commentators that came into your home and paint a picture.

He would be at ringside at the fights or working a corner for fighters when boxing was a consistent event at Madison Square Garden.

That smile, his generosity. And then the invitation to stop by Jimmy’s Corner when we put the last words on the fight recaps.  It’s not like that in this new era of boxing because they come and they go. 

But you could always find Jimmy Glenn a few blocks away from the Garden. If the Boxing Hall of Fame had his name up for induction that name would be a unanimous selection.

Yes, Jimmy Glenn will be missed. Sorry, I did not associate with him more often. He was not that fighter or big name associated with the sport, instead, he was Mr. Boxing at Jimmy’s Corner.

 He was that original.  Rest In Peace my friend. 

Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter @Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Local Boxing Gyms In Last Round For Survival During Pandemic

The fight to overcome the Coronavirus is ongoing and by no means are we out of the woods. For the sport of boxing the fight continues as promoters are in a holding pattern and many not certain about the future. 

For now, though, boxing  is losing the fight and the loss of revenue is extreme.  Among the big four promotions that comprise Top Rank, Matchroom. PBC, and Golden Boy, there have been furloughs of employees that are support staff. 

Shows, until further notice are on hold and have been cancelled through the month of June. The fighters, many who depend on trading fists as their income, they sit on the sidelines as gyms and facilities have shut their doors.

Those in boxing say, they will always fight. However, the fight to open doors again for boxing gyms could have seen the last round. This global pandemic has hit hard and caused economic hardship to those who own and operate training facilities. 

Basically, a boxing gym and the fighters need each other. They work as a team and inside those gyms is where it all begins for the beginner and established professional. 

For now, and until further notice, pro and amateur fighters are finding other alternatives to stay in condition. They use makeshift space in a room or garage as they isolate at home. They are in contact with their coaches that are utilizing technology as remote sessions if and when the sport resumes.

But, this is so much different than being in the gym where the sparring and proper tools for the sport are conducted. The bond with the boxing trainer  and the fighter is not the same without a presence in the gym.

Many of those trainers are also out of work. They pay the rent and bills putting in their time from morning until evening as they continue to develop skills for their fighters.

Last week, headquartered in Colorado Spring, CO, USA Boxing,  a non-profit organization responsible for the administration, development and promotion of Olympic style boxing in the United States, sent an email to over 50 registered boxing gyms located in the five boroughs of NYC and tri-state area.

The emails were also sent to gyms that are registered with USA Boxing around the country.

Their findings did not paint a bright picture for the future. Most, if not all  responded, it will be difficult or almost impossible to open their doors again without appropriate financial assistance from the Federal government.

And as each day passes, with no end in sight with this pandemic, the days of the boxing gym could have seen their last fight.

 “Nobody gets rich running a boxing gym,” said John Guapo Maresca. 

 Maresca, self-employed and in the boxing business for a longtime, opened the doors of Big Time Bouts in his hometown of Cartert, New Jersey last May. Simply put, 35-to 50 aspiring fighters could be shut out from their sanctuary.

He said, the owners of a boxing facility are facing a difficult and tough road, They may never reopen their doors and the government assistance has not been very receptive to his small business. 

“The people who need it the most can’t afford it now, Maresca said about the fighters.” The  gym owners who can help them out, can’t afford it.”

Gleason’s Gym,  in Brooklyn, a boxing  facility with history since 1937. Is one of the last of New York City’s thriving boxing gyms and has been the training headquarters for such legends as Jake LaMotta, Muhammad Ali and Roberto Duran. 

Over 131 World Champions have trained inside the gym that was originally situated in the vicinity of Madison Square Garden. That establishment could last another round as a ton of investors and promoters have been involved there over the years. 

Mendez Boxing, located in the Flatiron district of Manhattan, is another of the main boxing facilities. Not like Gleason’s, that situation is totally different and self supported. Sole partnerships, sponsors. monthly and daily fees from the fighters also assist with keeping the doors open.

Gleason’s and Mendez, because of their reputations and with an array of good trainers, also have become a home for promoters. They use the gym as a venue and promotional outlet with open workouts of fighters that are in town for major promotions at Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center.

Mendez, according to sources, and with a hefty rent, may have gone down for the count. It is nearly impossible to recover from the financial losses that are attributed to the pandemic which forced closure of all gyms last month in New York City.

On the other hand, Pat Russo, a retired NYPD sergeant and founder of Cops & Kids, is optimistic to keep the doors open with two gyms in Staten Island and one in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn.

The gym in Brooklyn is under reconstruction and that has been pushed back which caused another setback for the kids. 

 The goal has always been  to keep kids off the street after the PAL ceased their boxing programs in 2009.

Russo, too, depends on funding and fundraisers. His annual event for amatuer fighters, in the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden, was cancelled last month. He  is at home and applying for the small business assistance. 

Though that process of applying for assistance is difficult to navigate, and it could be a long time before any of that money comes to the rescue. 

“This is our busiest time, our worst possible time to happen,” he said. For now, 1,000 kids are also at home and looking forward to returning back to the gym.

“We’re very lucky in that we have very generous landlords who donate the space,” Russo said. “ Our landlord gives us the space. We don’t have to worry about rent and utilities. “  

Coaches at Cops & Kids are reciprocated for their time with stipends. But the goal, as Russo says, is to keep the kids busy and off the streets. 


“I don’t Know how you can possibly survive, you go month to month,’ Russo said.  “You don’t have a surplus account. It’s so important that we remain open. Our kids are the poorest that come only because it’s free.”

He added, “It puts them in a better place. We have to remain open.”

And the gyms hope to remain open. But this will be the biggest fight for the sport and everyday is crucial for the boxing gym.

“When this is over I’m done if the government gives nothing,” Maresca said.  “Unless somebody comes out of somewhere to keep me afloat there is no way. “

Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitetr@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Difficult Without Sports But There Are Options To Our Isolation

Yes, this is difficult. We are home and staying safe. We are dealing with a Coronavirus pandemic and making that adjustment. This was supposed to be the first weekend of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. 

We were five days away from Opening Day of the 2020 baseball season. Instead, at Citi Field, a makeshift hospital and relief center is being planned

We are without sports.  We are adjusting to viewing daily updates from the White House, your Governor, and Mayor. We are isolated and hoping this crisis will pass soon.

Saturday and Sunday, and next weekend,  CBS Sports is televising memorable games from past NCAA tournaments. MLB Network, the regional networks, are also replaying memorable games.

The baseball fix in New York includes a Mets marathon on SNY. The Yankees showing their classic series on YES, and audio feeds of the Michael Kay sports talk show on ESPN Radio.

The NBA and NHL channels also do their part to keep us entertained. 

How the WWE will stage WrestleMania, a reformatted two day event, and with  no fans at their Orlando performance center in two weeks will be interesting and different. 

WrestleMania, a highlight show on the wrestling calendar for the WWE and fans, was supposed to be held before 75,000 or more at Raymond James Stadium, Sunday April 5 in Tampa .

Instead, the evening before, with reportedly some taped matches, will highlight the mega event. No pyro, no fans, and matches scrapped. Pro wrestlers are making the adjustments and it will be similar to a rehearsal or audition they have experienced before gaining their stardom to the top.

We are in this together. And, said here again, sports are not the priority here as much as the world of fun and games would be a diversion from this crisis that confronts our world and nation.

So without sports, there are some options as we continue to isolate in our homes. This past week, in between some writing and dealing with the isolation, there were some good options to get your fix.

Sports books, the classic events and movies to pass the time are becoming a norm.  Though there is nothing better than viewing a live event, and we could be without that for the next few months,  .

 Any hope for the start of the 2020 season is not anytime soon. The hope, as can be determined, MLB season openers are on hold at least to June.

And that is being optimistic, all depending of course on how long the Coronavirus Pandemic abates. Talking to numerous sports personnel over the past few days, and the overall opinion is MLB and other leagues will await the first move of the NBA when it comes to resuming their schedule.

Why the NBA? The National Basketball Association was the first to shut down and seem to be at the forefront of taking control. Other sports leagues will follow their path. 

In addition, with the 2020 MLB season, players would need another two-week spring training period for conditioning and the schedule would need a major readjustment. That means doubleheaders that are rare on a schedule and a shortened season which are not the norm.

Again, that is speculation as we go day-by-day with this crisis and hope for the best.

Pitchers were at the point of throwing at speeds where they should be. The hitters, always behind the pitchers, they will need more time to catch up and that is usually the case during a normal spring training period..

Let’s say 81 games or fewer, instead of a regular 162-game slate and no All–Star game. Players would get paid when the season begins. 

Now, as understood, the MLBPA and  owners are working out details of the specifics as to their contracts and payment and pertaining to  details about pay scales in cases such as a national state of emergency.

The other sports will deal with specifics, perhaps not as complicated for the NHL and Major League soccer.  Boxing will resume with lucrative network deals and promotions at Top Rank, PBC, Matchroom, Golden Boy, and others.

They  will saturate the market with events every weekend for the boxing fan as the non mainstream fighters train at home and await their next payday. Most, if not all of the boxing gyms have been closed due to the pandemic.

The Kentucky Derby, Masters Golf Tournament, major events on the spring calendar, have announced they are rescheduling their major events to a later time.  

Still up in the air is how the USTA will handle the U.S. Open In Flushing Queens. That was scheduled for the later part of August. 

In the meantime some books to suggest to get your fix:

  • Staying Positive The Story of The Real Paul Banke (Boxing)
  • Once There Were Giants. The Golden Age of Heavyweight Boxing (Jerry Izenberg)
  • Inside Pitch. My Life As a Major League Closer (Skip Lockwood)

More to come in the coming days as we go through the pile with some of the best books and classic sports to view.

Most of all be SAFE! We are in this together and will get back to normal in due time. 

Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

We Are Coping Without Sports And So Is The Impact To Many

I am okay here in the Bronx and taking precaution.

Yes, we are changing routines and isolating and in due time this Coronavirus crisis will pass. So, before I head to a scheduled doctor appointment that was on the docket, here we go.

Sports are dark. My livelihood, as with others in all walks of life, has been disrupted. Sports have always been a diversion from a crisis but not now. We need to adjust, adapt, come together as a community.

You see, as the medical professionals handling this crisis say, we could be in this for the long haul. Adapting to no sports is an adjustment and you learn to do other things in the safety and comfort of your home.

Catch up on some reading. I have finished reading two books that were half way in.  Watch classic movies and relive the sports classics that are the alternative programming on various sports networks. 

 Of course, I will admit, “The Walking Dead” episode Sunday night had some shocking developments and outcomes. Though. admit. not the proper program to watch with our society in a crisis and keeping up with a television series did not change the routine. 

And reacquaint with your loved ones. We do tend  to get lost with our love and passion for sports. 

The only sports programming, and limited, bowling tournaments and NASCAR.  The NFL, the only sport in the offseason with their new labor agreement , trades, and free agency. 

Well, that is the only bit of news to talk and write about as Major League Baseball facilities are closed and the 2020 season is pushed back further into late May or June.

As Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen said, “This is bigger than baseball.” Indeed, baseball and all sports is not the priority now, The specifics of schedules, not just with baseball, will be determined. The economic impact, of course, will be huge.

The sport of boxing has come to a halt, and at a time when major fights have been put off the schedule. Top Rank, Premier Boxing Champions, and Matchroom Boxing, among the big three promotions, stand to lose a significant amount of revenue and at a standstill with new subscribers to their networks. 

Talent, the fighters, many who depend on a purse, are basically at a standstill and out of work as boxing gyms have closed their doors. The streaming networks  ESPN, DAZN, have to readjust when the sport resumes. 

According to a source, FOX Sports and Showtime, a major part of the boxing schedule, will be forced to double up shows on weekends which is good for the boxing fan. But, too much saturation of the sport, at the same time, could work to a disadvantage when the sport resumes with the chaotic rescheduling of fight cards. 

According to the promoters, all ticket orders will be refunded from the original point of purchase.   And for fans, many with a economic loss due to the Coronavirus pandemic, paying for the network streams could become a financial burden. 

“The health and safety of the boxers, fans, and those working the events are of utmost importance to us,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB promotions and lead promoter of the cancelled PBC shows. 

He added, “We are all disappointed and as we get more information we will address future events.”

And this goes beyond the major sports leagues and promoters.. The little guy and personnel. They secure safety of venues, ticket sales personnel, concession workers, vendors, and more feeling the impact of a sports shutdown.

They, too, are taking a hit and realizing safety is first. Many are paid seasonal, and a six month baseball season does pay the bills. Some security personnel, on a full time basis, have been asked to stay home.

“It will be a hardship,” said a seasonal worker that is employed as one of many security personnel at Citi Field and Madison Square Garden. It is expected with federal funding they will recoup some of their losses.

Some also will be able to qualify for unemployment insurance as seasonal employees at the ballpark qualify.

Regardless, sports in the dark is having that type of impact.

Impact of sports programming also is being felt with broadcast talent and production personnel. They are employed as freelancers and sitting on the sidelines. 

They, the freelance talent, will sustain a financial loss.  So, basically the impact is all around the sports industry. We as a society are all feeling the impact and need to adjust.

In the days and weeks to come, we will try on these pages to provide readers as to how this impact of the Coronavirus is having an impact. The impact on all walks of life no matter what you do.  

You see, it’s not just about sports going dark. It’s a nation, a city, and some points of the world all in that readjustment period of time. 

We are in this together. BE SAFE!

Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Sports Is Dark As We Await The Outcome Of This Coronavirus Crisis

Wednesday evening we left the Barclays Center in Brooklyn after the first round of the Atlantic-10 Basketball championship tournament. I had this empty feeling with the increased cases of the Coronavirus.

File photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra /copyright 2020

And then it happened. Sports were shut down. Not just the NCAA conference tournaments. Not the NCAA Mens and womens basketball tournaments of March Madness, but all sports.

One-by-one. The NBA, NHL, MLS, boxing, golf. And the anticipated start of Major League Baseball has been pushed back for two weeks, but that is just an estimate.

The start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season could be on hiatus and longer than that two week time period. 

It will take time to adjust as arenas and stadiums go dark. This is a circumstance, from this perspective, worse than the events and aftermath of September 11, 2001. Worse, because it has impacted you, me, the city of New York, the world.

The difference, an impact for a long period of time as we adjust. 

It’s about the individual well being of all. We can’t fight a virus that is not under control and this comes as the sports analyst and by no means is this writer a medical authority or pretend to be. 

It’s common sense and listening to the authorities that advise how to deal with this situation. But sports is on the sidelines. We are looking in, making adjustments, hoping for the best. 

The transition to do other things is here. There always will be things to write about. Pick up a book, watch a classic movie. Check on family, friends, and neighbors.

And in due time, like all bad situations, this will pass. The Coronavirus and implications will become history, talked about for years to come, and we can resume our daily routines.  

But, New York City in that state of emergency will not have a complete shutdown. A source, within New York City Government circles informed this columnist that a shutdown will not occur unless Coronavirus cases reach the thousands .

Thankfully, we are not at that point of this crisis. And hopefully we won’t get there.

In the meantime, the world of fun and games, sports as it is called, is on hiatus.

Down in Port St. Lucie Florida, at the New York Mets spring training complex, spring training games have been suspended. The game of baseball is in suspension.

“Obviously with the sensitive information , we have to take extra precaution,” said the Mets’ J.D. Davis.

 He continues  to stay prepared with the entire Mets contingent and hopes that the crisis will pass so the 2020 season can commence.

“As a team, we will continue to get ready for the season,” Davis said. “It’s definitely different. And we have to improvise to get better everyday and be ready. We don’t know the future, however, we have to have the mindset that we are having our opening day in two weeks.”

He said, the details are still coming in to players and personnel. Meetings are ongoing to answer any concerns with questions.

“Hopefully, in the next couple of days, we will have a better understanding on where to go from here,” Davis said.

That understanding could mean  the players leaving Florida, Or, they head to their respective homes or come up north to their seasonal homes in New York. 

The Mets season opener was two weeks from yesterday. It is assumed , when MLB resumes, that the team will still have their season opener at Citi Field.

Friday afternoon, the Yankees also remained in place down at their spring training facilities in Tampa. Similar to the Mets ,they are in a holding pattern. 

The team  released a statement to update fans and the media. They were scheduled to open the season at Baltimore two weeks from yesterday.

“The Yankees fully support this decision and will continue to proactively monitor current events in conjunction with medical experts, government officials and Major League Baseball,” said the statement.

The  statement continued “We recognize that our great fans have a variety of questions. However, given the unprecedented nature and fluidity of what is taking place, we appreciate your patience as we diligently work through the many aspects and details of this continually evolving situation.”

In the meantime stadium workers are also victims of this Coronavirus pandemic. Concession workers and security personnel at Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden, and the Barclays Center will lose a substantial part of their income.

The players will still get paid. though reductions will come to their contracts as it pertains to a national emergency when games are suspended. According to an agreement with owners and players.

But those who secure and provide at the venues, they will be hurt in the pocket.

“Understand, but safety does come first,” said a long time concession worker who works at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium They earn from the individual vendors that have contracts with the teams.

With March Madness gone, and with sports in the dark, the waging of sports is also taking a hit. That industry, too, is in a holding pattern and this time of year the NCAA Tournament does see sports wagering at a peak.

The NCAA and with a loss of games will lose millions with the CBS and Turner television contracts that deliver these games to us. The eligibility of senior student-athletes, many who missed an opportunity to compete for a championship, reportedly will be extended. 

Boxing promoters have cancelled their shows around the nation. Two in New York City in the span of four days, promoted by Top Rank and ESPN were called off Thursday evening.

The events were scheduled in the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden. Initially, when the crisis in New York unfolded, fans were banned from events scheduled for Saturday night and St. Patrick’s Day evening. 

Thursday, Top Rank had a final press conference at the Garden. The fighters, officials, and personnel were there and the shows were still a go. 

Later, the New York State Athletic Commission got the call form Albany. The commission, that regulates boxing was informed to consult with Top Rank and cancel the shows for the safety of personnel and the fighters. 

The Garden is dark, could be for months, and with a state of emergency,  events with 500 people or more is a risk. The Theatre is in that category of risk. 

Millions of dollars are being lost. The estimates and figures will continue to pile as this crisis continues and when it is finally resolved.

Yes, sports are in the dark. Even media, many who depend on income to report the games and events will see cutbacks and a loss of income. 

Realize, we must stay safe. Take caution. The sports world will resume. And hope the Coronavirus, like a bad hurricane, will fly out to sea.

Comment: Ring786@aol.com/ Twitter @Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Polish Heavyweight From Brooklyn Has Implications Saturday on Division

Adam Kownacki will feel at home Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  The undefeated heavyweight, 20-0-15 KO’s) from Poland and residing in Brooklyn is in the title mix. Brooklyn is his home and awaiting is a 12-round WBA title eliminator that headlines a FOX PBC fight night card.

credit Stephanie Trapp/TGB Promotions

He knows the implications. A win and there are possibilities of being in that mix with Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, or Deontay Wilder.   All three are in that mix.

Fury, the WBC champion took the title from Wilder two week ago, their second fight, and a trilogy is set in Las Vegas come July 18th.  Joshua, the other half of this equation will defend the unified WBA/IBF/WBO titles against mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev, at the new 70,000 seat Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on June 20.

After the two Fury-Wilder fights, one that resulted in a draw and the other that received a lot of hype, this heavyweight division has created a buzz and new faces.

Though, Kownacki, Polish born and residing in Brooklyn, is no stranger to  the Barclays Center. This will be Kownacki’s 10th fight at the venue. He has not only become a fan-favorite, but established as a contender in the red-hot heavyweight division.

Also March 7,  Kownacki, has another opportunity to showcase what it takes to end up on top of the heavyweight ladder and eventual quest to become the first Polish heavyweight champion in boxing history.

 Though, this heavyweight has that share of convincing wins in Brooklyn, that road to reach Fury, or Joshua, may have to wait.  Basically, the heavyweight division has become more interesting and any potential title fight with one of the champions won’t come soon.

Doesn’t matter to Kowancki. He will await for the opportunity because the road to get here was not easy.

“The division is wide open,” said Kownacki. “Right now, Tyson Fury is considered number one. But his previous two fights before the Deontay Wilder rematch weren’t that great. So how good is Fury really?” he said.  

 Kowancki,  among the top-ten heavyweights, did make a good point. He is the only one with a clean record, no losses or draws.

“ On Saturday, March 7, I have to prove that I belong in a title fight,” he said this week. 

The 30–year old,  in August on FOX, was the headliner at Barclays. He won an exciting action fight against former title challenger Chris Arreola. Now he will face a new challenge in the veteran Helenius, who has faced top competition throughout the world. 

He stands over six-feet six-inches tall, making him one of Kownacki’s most imposing opponents to date.

Once, the boxing world did not look at Fury as a serious contender in the division. The British star, who overcame battles with depression and substance abuse, is now the sensation of boxing and the heavyweight division.

Kownacki. also has that potential, though he is not a Tyson Fury story.  He does not give that presence of throwing a power right, a punch that placed Deontay Wilder in the talk of an all-time heavyweight great.

But, Kowancki is a draw and has a good story.  Brooklyn has welcomed him with fans and billboards.  Quickly, though, Kownacki, has become a part of that mix in a heavyweight division that has that cast of characters.

“This will be my second time headlining at Barclays Center and having the whole New York community, especially the Polish fans, coming out to support me really feels amazing,” he said. 

He has to push, shove, box, and of course punch. This fight will not be a walkover, more so, the implications for an upcoming title fight are on the line. This is the heavyweight division, and Kownacki, is making it that more interesting.

 He says about his opponent, Helenius (29-3-0) of Finland, “He’s much taller, which poses a new set of challenges. Against Arreola, it was easy to get on the inside. With Helenius’ height, I’m going to have to work behind my double-jab and then let my punches go.”

Yes, that’s the height advantage, 6ft-6 inch. Helenius also brings a 56.25 percent knockout ratio to the ring in 32 bouts.

“He’s very experienced and he’s been in there with a lot of talented fighters,” Kowancki said.  

His opponent, a former European champion, has fought and gone the distance  with Derek Chisora and Dillian Whyte. Both are big time heavyweights.  

“His experience is something I have to be careful with. I’m not looking past him at all,” Kowancki said.   The motivation, again at Barclays Center, will be those fans from his nearby Polish community that will become a third man in the ring. 

Anything is possible. 

But in this new and revived heavyweight division the unexpected  has become normal. 

FOX PBC Fight Night begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and features undefeated heavyweight sensation Efe Ajagba facing former title challenger Razvan Cojanu in the 10-round co-main event and rising heavyweight Frank Sánchez stepping in to face Philadelphia’s Joey Dawejko in the 10-round televised opener.

Viewers can live stream the PBC shows on the FOX Sports and FOX NOW apps or at FOXSports.com. In addition, all programs are available on FOX Sports on SiriusXM channel 83 on satellite radios and on the SiriusXM app.

Tickets are still available at the Barclays Center Box office and ticket outlets.

Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Danny Garcia Made His Statement In Brooklyn At Barclays

 Danny Garcia hopes to be fighting more this year and the Two-division world champion scored a dominant unanimous decision over Ivan “El Terrible” Redkach Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. A top three welterweight, Garcia needed to make a statement.

And it was that statement  of needing the win to be next in line for eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao or Eroll Spence Jr. 

You see, those names were the target before Saturday night. However, Spence, on the comeback trail, after sustaining numerous injuries back in September in a single car accident that nearly took his life, was the lucrative opportunity.

Pacquiao, on the other hand, was not on his fight schedule with those responsibilities as the Senator from the Philippines.

So, Garcia took this fight and was fully aware of the implications. He was successful in his eighth appearance at Barclays, the cost for a fighter has highling as the main event in Brooklyn. 

Garcia (36-2, 21 KOs) was sharp from the outset, finding a place for his right hand against the aggressive southpaw Redkach (23-5-1, 18 KOs). Garcia kept Redkach weary of his offense by punctuating his combinations with his signature left hook.

Will it be Spence or Pacquiao after this win?

“Either or ,” said Garcia. “Either of those fights I would like to have. My style looks great against both fighters.”

That style is fighting a southpaw and one of the reasons why Garcia chose Redkach.  It got him prepared for that next step to reclaim a major title at 147.

Spence is the unified champion and Pacquiao holds rights to the WBA title. Terence Crawford, holds the WBO title and could be the best pound-for pound in boxing.

But a potential fight with Crawford, promoted by Top Rank and ESPN, would be more difficult to arrange with Garcia under the PBC banner. But this is boxing and a fight like that could be done. 

Anything is possible down the line because in the end promoters need to provide the best fights for fans with the various streaming networks and money that is dominating the sport. 

With that, and a Danny Garcia win, the welterweight division does become more compelling and there are any number of scenarios that await the boxing fan,

This is a welterweight division that reminds you of an era with Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, and Roberto Duran. That was an era when boxing was highlighted with mega events in Las Vegas and the beginnings of HBO and Pay-Per-View events. 

And Danny Garcia, now a seasoned veteran, is still in that mix among the best fighters at 147.

“I’m not going to lie, I felt good, but I didn’t feel my best,” Garcia said. “I did lose a lot of weight for this fight, so maybe that played a factor. From a long layoff, and just losing so much weight. I lost about 25 pounds in eight weeks.”

After 12 rounds of action, the judges were in agreement, giving Garcia the edge by final scores of 118-110 and 117-111 twice. At ringside this observer scored it 117-111 for Garcia.

Perhaps, not the best win for Danny Garcia, but he did what had to be done. 

So, Danny Garcia is on this mission again to be the best welterweight. He has that persona and many believe the Philadelphia product is far from done and that first step was accomplished in Brooklyn Saturday night…

Co-Main Goes To Hurd: The co-main event featured former unified champion Jarrett Hurd returning to the ring for the first time since losing his titles to score a unanimous decision over Francisco “Chia” Santana in their 10-round super welterweight contest.

“We’ve moved on from the Julian Williams fight,” said Hurd. “We came out here, we had a long layoff and we got the job done.”

This was Hurd’s first fight with his new head trainer Kay Koroma, who he trained with in Colorado, taking him away from his home in Accokeek, Maryland for the first time leading up to a fight. Hurd looked to show off improved defense and use his height and reach advantage to dominate with his jab.

“There was definitely no frustration in there,” said Hurd. “We didn’t want to go toe to toe and we didn’t want to make this a risky fight.”

Hurd was able to control much of the fight from the outside, landing 80 jabs throughout the fight, connecting on 22%. He also proved elusive in the ring, allowing Santana to only land five jabs throughout the fight. 

Santana was able to impose his style at different points though, closing the distance on Hurd and peppering him with combinations punctuated by straight right hands.

Santana’s style however left him vulnerable to Hurd’s counters, which he took advantage of most clearly in the fifth round, countering with numerous straight right hands that rocked Santana consistently. Santana’s 737 punches thrown out paced Hurd’s 684, but Hurd’s 34% connect rate was superior to Santana’s 13%.

Hurd continued to use his feet and evade the charging Santana, before he eventually punctuated his performance by dropping Santana in the closing moments of the fight, first hurting him with a left hook and then putting him on the mat with an uppercut.

“In the last round I wanted to come forward and close it hard, but I got a little bit careless for a second,” said Santana. “In boxing you have to stay focused for every second of every round. He caught me with a good shot.”

Santana was able to make it to his feet and see the final bell, but Hurd was the victor on all three cards, by scores of 97-92 and 99-90 twice.

“We want the belts,” said Hurd. “We want the best. I’m not exactly sure what’s going to be the next move, but we want the belts.”

Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Some Holiday NY Sports Cheer

So it goes. Another holiday season is here and from yours truly to yours a Merry Christmas and Happy holidays.

There were the usual highs and lows during the 2019 sports year in New York. From the abysmal Knicks, to the continued regression of the Jets and Giants, the Yankees failure to close the decade without another championship. 

And the Mets, of course, awaiting the check book of billionaire Steve Cohen as they try to contend and deliver.  Hockey is healthy as the Rangers and Islanders are at a pace to be contenders for playoff position.

With all of this, and more, here is that annual Christmas list for the New York sports fan. A little of everything and not being naughty but nice.

Yankees: The Gerit Cole signing to a record nine-year $324 million contract is the missing piece, so says the Yankees hierarchy. Though, as mentioned on  these pages,a pitcher with that long term deal is expected to deliver.

 The Yankees, as that holiday gift for their fans, got them Cole. It means the supposed best pitcher in baseball is expected to deliver, and at a risk in this long range plan to end their decade drought without a World Series championship.

Though, the appropriate gift of cheer for the Yankees is to get the timely hits in the postseason, which was more of the contributing factor of their failures to go deep in another postseason series loss to the Astros.

METS: The gift has been Michael Wacha and Rick Procello, two pitchers at low cost that add to their depth. If anything, rookie manager Carlos Beltran has been granted some flexibility. 

Seth Lugo, the Mets most reliable reliever, can stay in the bullpen as does Robert Gsellman. The need was to revamp a bullpen that was second worst in baseball to the Red Sox in 2019.

The gift this holiday season for the Mets, another bat in the lineup before Opening Day and possibly a healthy Yoenis Cespedes in his final year of a revamped contract.

Most of all, the best gift here? A turn-around 2020 out of the pen for Jeurys Familia and Edwin Diaz. Late inning outs and saves cost the Mets in 2019. Familia and Diaz could be a difference maker, along with Justin Wilson in the mix.

Giants: Yours truly will be the first to admit this is not an area of expertise. However, it is easy to comprehend that stability on the coaching end is important, why it is important to give another year to Pat Shurmur.

There are signs of progress. No more Eli Manning. Daniel Jones is improving, five touchdown passes Sunday against the Redskins.  The gift is acquiring a top draft choice, improve the defense. We haven’t seen Saquon Barkley at his best and healthy. 

Jets: Same situation with the Giants and that’s coaching stability.  Adam Gase? He needs another year. Disagree, of course Jets fans would. You see the continued development of a quarterback, Sam Darnold, and how he can control the ball out of the pocket. 

Again, a gift here for the Jets is patience. They are close. And the draft picks will be significant as the long and championship reign of the Patriots is on a decline, which makes the Jets a team to be enthused about in the AFC East.

Knicks: Sell the team. This is not a coaching situation. The answer is get rid of Dolan. A gift of joy for every Knicks’ fan is becoming that franchise champion again that takes the court in the “Mecca” of Madison Square Garden, and having the appropriate basketball personnel to run the show. 

NETS:  Did you say, can’t wait for Kevin Durant?  That 26.0 points per game is a void and a difference maker.

Rangers:   Sunday, Henrik Lundqvist made his first start in a week and stopped 19 of 20 shots that prevented the Rangers from losing their fourth straight. And that is the difference, because the veteran in goal can lead this team in his final years. 

You want to see a good old NY rivalry on ice with the Rangers and Islanders. It can get there again, of course it begins with the consistent play in goal from the veteran.

Islanders: All good in Nassau County and Brooklyn. The Islanders are leaving a gift this season and striving to become another dynasty before moving to their new digs in a few years over at Belmont Park.

NYRA:  Can we get another Triple Crown winner at Belmont Park?

NYCFC: Two years of semifinal and final conference elimination for an MLS CUP. The gift is go another step. The added gift is securing a stadium they can call home as the Yankees kick them out of the ballpark to avoid disrupting their sacred field during playoff time. 

Boxing: The sports deserves more championship fights in New York. Barclays Center in Brooklyn is in survival mode as a host for major fights and Madison Square Garden, well the “Mecca” always finds a place for the big fight.  Then again, the sport is healthy but no longer in that category of mainstream.and deserves a gift of returning to the heyday of Ali, Frazier, Holmes, Hagler, Hearns, and Leonard.

There you have it. Just some thoughts. From all of us at TheNYExtra.com a healthy and happy holiday season with the gift of joy and a championship. 

Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso