The worldwide Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way just about everyone lives. It has touched almost every business, every government, and every industry. Boxing, specifically, has been leveled during the health crisis.
Since the sports shutdown in March, only a small handful of live boxing events have taken place. Most have been under the Top Rank banner, broadcast on ESPN. None have been blockbusters. The TV ratings have been poor as a result of the shows’ lack of star power.
Boxing Needs Its Stars
It’s painfully obvious that the sport needs its superstars if a true boxing comeback can happen.
Unfortunately, the biggest stars are still not committed to coming back during this “new normal” of fan-free arenas and, perhaps, necessary pay cuts.
Main stage players like Terence Crawford, remain in limbo when it comes to their status.
Crawford Holding Out
“Manny Pacquiao is the fight we’re still currently looking forward to getting, but the pandemic has messed up a lot of things as far as money issues and whatnot, fans not being able to actually come and see the fight,” Crawford recently told ESPN’s Max Kellerman.
“I really don’t know how (a fight could get made) against any top welterweight in the division. When you look at the landscape, the whole thing is gonna come down to money, and if you can’t provide the proper money for each fighter, how can you make a fight happen?”
Crawford, in the past, has talked about not taking a pay cut, regardless of the current economic realities. Other fighters have similarly expressed an unwillingness to accept less for a “big” fight in the present tense.
Stars Unwilling To Take Pay Cuts
It’s understandable that fighters, who take all the risks in the ring, would be reluctant to take pay cuts. But, for them, the decision will have to be made quickly whether they will return to the ring now and make what they can make or wait this virus out and see what the future holds. There’s no guarantee when (or even if) the new normal morphs back into the “regular” normal.
Fighters like Saul Alvarez, Manny Pacquiao, Anthony Joshua, Errol Spence, and Vasiliy Lomachenko could make a big impact if they decided to fight now, as boxing is trying to find its footing once again. But, again, nobody can blame them for looking after their own bottom lines.
One gets the feeling that the sport’s stars are not burning with urgency to make any decisions right now. They’ll likely wait things out for another few months and see what’s what. Most have the time and leverage to do that.
Boxing as a whole, however, may not have that luxury.
What will a struggling sport look like six months down the road without its biggest and most bankable stars? Things could get ugly for the businessmen who finance the sport. It’s possible that if the stars wait too long to come back, even they may lack the power to pull boxing out of its high-speed nosedive.