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Havoc In Boxing: Injuries And COVID Disruptions

Amanda Westcott/ Showtime

Republished from my weekly blog @world wide Boxing

New York- It’s Halloween but this is not a trick or treat for promoters or boxing fans. As my late mentor and sports scribe Dick Young used to say, “What’s going on here,” because there is constant havoc with the boxing schedule. In the past few months there are much too many main event fighters pulled because of an injury or testing positive in this era of COVID-19.

This week, super middleweight David Benavidez gets a late replacement for his long awaited Showtime November 13 Phoenix homecoming title eliminator. Kyrone Davis steps in and replaces former world champion Jose Uzcategui who had to withdraw because of a failed drug test.

Back up a bit, recall that Benavidez was forced to postpone the original late August fight with Uzcategui, because he tested positive for COVID-19. Now, Beanvidez, with hopes of getting a title opportunity against Canelo Alvarez has a longer wait.

His fight is now a 10-round main event and not a title eliminator. Of course, Benavidez did not plan for this. Neither did the PBC, Showtime, and other promoters involved in the event. However, an anticipated title eliminator of 12-rounds is not the same as 10-rounds and more like a tuneup fight now for Benavidez.

Back up again to June, because the unified lightweight title defense of Teofimo Lopez versus George Kambosos Jr. has become a farce. I can speak with others about the June 9 date in Miami that was cancelled because Lopez tested positive for COVID-19.

I was not the lone contingent of media that received alerts immediately when departing our flight at the airport that the fight and entire card were cancelled. Forget about hotel rooms and contingency plans because Temfimo Lopez was not in Miami at the time.

Forget about me. The fans who purchased tickets have still not received ticket refunds.Triller Fight Club sustained a huge financial loss on deposits to LoanDepot Park and personnel including the pay-per-view distributors.

Five more times Lopez and Kambosos tried. Triller pulled out of the original purse bid as Matchroom and Eddie Heann with DAZN took over for a rescheduled date that hopefully takes place November 27 from the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden.

We waited after the legal turmoil and Tyson Fury COVID situation. We got the postponed and historic trilogy of Deontay Wilder and Fury that was a highlight on the boxing Fury retained the WBC heavyweight title.

Last week, WBC interim heavyweight champion Dillian Whyte and Hearn had a press conference to update his recent shoulder injury that forced him to pull out of a fight with Otto Wallin. Now, Whyte is aiming for a title bout with Fury.

Friday with the height of a November boxing season that showcases young superstars and major title fights, we got another one.

Rolando Romero and Gervontay Davis scheduled for an anticipated December 5 Showtime Pay-Per-View is in jeopardy. Late last week, Romero was implicated in a sexual assault that was reported from a woman who has not come forward .

As of now, Showtime and promoters have not cancelled this showdown but sources tell me this week that the fight is close to being pulled from the calendar.

So what is going on here? Basically, its circumstance beyond control but there is always speculation as to why and how? And there is no viable solution to prevent further postponements that puts a dent in plans and a financial loss for promoters and their fighters. Basically, it’s a situation that causes a further black eye for the sport.

I reached out to many associated with the various promoters. Matchmakers, personnel with numerous tasks, veterans in the industry and the consensus and opinion I received was nothing new.

As they say, the unfortunate injury to a fighter in training has been a part throughout the illustrious history of boxing. The advent of strict drug testing and now COVID protocols have added to a new and constant issue. But also realize that every promoter has a risk with their investment to keep the sport healthy and viable.

So why do fighters fail drug tests and test positive for COVID? It’s neglect, or as one associate to a major promoter said, it’s plain stupidity. COVID vaccines are mandatory with a majority of major promoters and the respective athletic ruling bodies.

Drug testing is an agreement with the major sanctioning organizations in conjunction with promoters, managers,and fighters. Testing is administered at random with (VADA) the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association.

Fighters that violate drug testing protocol and test positive, also with knowledge of getting caught red handed, is something that is not logical under any standards.

Lopez reportedly was vaccinated for COVID, though there were conflicting reports. Benvidez said he was not and would do so after the 90-day period of post COVID detection, and that can’t be logical.

Then again, I am not a physician. And I am not an expert on drug testing and how one would avoid an illegal substance from coming up positive in a test Though, what is known, boxing has a major issue here. Injuries are unfortunate. Failure of a drug test is not, COVID positive cases occur with the vaccinated and those who are not.

Boxing is a victim of circumstance and Saturday, hopefully Canelo Alvarez and Celeb Plant will avoid obstacles for their anticipated super middleweight unification battle.

But my advice, don’t make long range travel plans or purchase tickets in advance for major fights. You could be the eventual victim, shutout, and that has become an annoying trend.

ENNIS AND ZEPEDA DOMINANT:Early knockouts Saturday and on to the next big one for Jaron “Boots” Ennis and Jose Zepeda that were televised on Showtime and ESPNPlus.

Ennis is a young and rising star in the welterweight division and ready to test Terence Crawford, Shawn Porter, Yordenis Ugas, or undefeated Radzhab Butaev, who dethroned WBA regular champion Jamal James Saturday night with a ninth round stoppage on Showtime.

Ennis easily handled Thomas Dulorme in the first round with the quick knockout. The pride of Philadelphia, 23-years old, has the power of a left, a good right, and made a statement.

As Ennis said after his 11th career knockout, ”Now it’s on to the next. Let’s get the big names.”

Zepeda, ranked # 2 super lightweight with the WBC, got the quick and violent first round knockout over Josue Vargas as Top Rank and ESPN returned to New York and Madison Square Garden for the first time in almost two years.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 30: Josue Vargas (L) and Jose Zepeda (R) exchange punches during their fight for the WBC silver super lightweight championship at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on October 30, 2021 in New York City.(Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Said the 32-year old Zepeda, who knocked Vargas down two times with 9 of 10 power punches “I want the WBC world title and all the belts, to be honest, I’m ready for it. I showed today I’m ready for the WBC world title.”

That title he seeks belongs to Josh Taylor. But this is a division that has intensity, and if Teofimo Lopez prevails his intention is to move up and unify the belts at 140…

The next three weeks: Canelo Alavarez, David Benavidez, Terence Crawford versus Shawn Porter, and Lopez as the major attractions on Showtime and ESPN PPV, along with Lopez on DAZN. Boxing is indeed healthy and tell that to the skeptics…

Keep It In The Ring. Stay Safe

Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

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