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Boxing Events Without Spectators and How It Effects Boxing!

Canelo Alvarez boxing photo

By Ken Hissner: As a writer, I have purchased DAZN (Zone), ESPN+, and Showtime. Also, FOX, FS1, NBC Sports Events, ESPN, and Telemundo provide boxing events.

In this article, some of the top boxing people speak out on the effects boxing events without spectators have on the sport in general. I’ve reached out to many in boxing, and the following are some of their comments:

IBHOF Promoter J RUSSELL PELTZ: You cannot promote boxing cards unless the following: (1) Unless you have enough television money to pay the bills (2) you run cards with all PAID fights (3) I do not have television money and am not going to compromise myself by running cards with paid fights.

NJ Boxing Commissioner LARRY HAZZARD: Even though boxing without fans takes away much of the excitement of the bout, it should not distract the boxers from their ultimate goal of obtaining victory. Covid-19 has had a great impact on the sweet science, but fighters have still had the opportunity to stay busy in their craft while participating without the added incentive they receive from cheering fans. The vaccines are finally providing a welcoming light at the end of the tunnel.

PA & NJ BHOF Inductee JOEY EYE INTRIERI: If you ask me, boxing events without fans are not EVENT! Because without the fans, you have no fight! Fighters need the roar of the crowd & the atmosphere to pipe them up & help to push them to win. I have worked several boxing events & MMA events without fans & there is an eerie silence that really takes the enjoyment out of the sport. If Ali vs. Frazier had no fans, would it still have been Fight of the Century? It’s like the old saying, if a tree falls in the forest, & no one is there to hear it fall, did it make a sound? We need the fans back in the stands!!!

MIKE MC SORLEY, JR., of Integrity Fighter Management: “We are doing a show on May 15th in Pittsburgh with a tiny audience, and it will be streamed on PPV. This is a new way of doing things for us, but we have to keep our fighters busy. It’s a challenging time for the sport!”

JEFF JOWETT writer for Seconds Out: The elimination of fans at events is a high-tech trend that should continue to expand. After all, the elimination of the most important part of boxing….the genuine world champion…occurred decades ago with the appearance of the WBA & WBC, so why should any other aspect of the “business” be immune from exploitation?

Large indoor crowds will remain for the foreseeable future at the most major events because that’s part of the show when somebody like Mayweather, Canelo, or Fury entered the ring. But for most shows, who needs a live crowd? Or ringside press, for that matter?

More and more, these shows will become closed affairs, with a mere handful of specially invited guests who in some manner or other either contributed large amounts $$$ of money to the promotion. The PR guy will send out exactly what is needed about aspects of the show not evident on the tv screen. And the “boxing writers” will sit comfortably at home in front of their TVs, with the report all ready to go to the website within minutes of the close.

Most shows don’t make $$$ from a live gate anyway; without TV, they run on optimism. A live crowd calls for a lot of additional work; promotion, ticket sales, crowd management, seating, a goon squad….and there’s always the threat of fights breaking out besides in the ring. Much easier to relax and let the TV crew in with the endless supply of $$$. After all, boxing is not a “sport” anyway; it’s a cash cow. Ask anybody above the grassroots level if you can get them off-camera.

The pandemic has effectively demonstrated the future of boxing. Say goodbye to “small club” cards and even most arena shows. It’s studio boxing from here on.

RICK STEIGERWALD, Western Pennsylvania Boxing Commissioner: It’s definitely not the same, no noise, no hype, and not as exciting! Plus, it’s killing the promotion and the Promoters. Not to mention the effects it’s had on the Pa. commission. Plus, with all the testing! Our hope is that we can open it to audiences soon!

LYNNE CARTER, judge, PAB HOF inductee: It’s nice to have the bustling sound of the crowd, but it doesn’t really matter. Either way is fine with me.

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