Boxing News

SMALL HALL, BIG PROBLEM

IT’S only natural to see men and women throwing punches on television during the COVID-19 pandemic and think that boxing, the toughest of all sports, has bravely weathered the storm and come back stronger; that, as is its tendency, it was up no sooner than it had been knocked down.

But no, not quite. If back in the ring throwing punches, the sport’s punches are, at this stage, best described as arm punches rather than power punches. Heard but not felt, the arenas in which they are thrown are empty, fights tend to be watered-down fare, and bills are often cut-price and downsized to suit. The fighters are fighting again, some with more fire and desperation than ever, and the television promoters have done a fine job of resuscitating, but there is still something missing, and it is more than just bodies in seats.

Sadly, though the TV screen offers the illusion of a Rocky-style comeback, boxing’s small hall circuit – the stuff they don’t show you – has been out cold since March, both in the UK and in other parts of the world, and it’s this reality that creates the truer image of a sport throwing punches without a base, without its foundation, without its legs. Arm punches.

Due to the ongoing crisis, boxing’s building blocks have crumbled and now left behind is the scaffolding, sturdy enough but not to be confused with a home. It has, since adjusting, become a sport of eerily silent TV shows, ‘bubble’ banter, Zoom chats, hysterical pundits, and a million podcasts, all doing their best to lighten the collective mood and have us forget the absence of small hall shows, amateur shows and packed gyms.

And the worst thing is, just as nobody is to blame, nobody saw it coming.

“This year started fantastically for us,” said small hall

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