SAN DIEGO, Calif., April 26, 2020 – Boxing fans wondering what their favorite sport might look like in a post coronavirus pandemic universe got a preview Saturday night live from Managua, Nicaragua.
The verdict: Boxing is like pizza. Even when it’s not all that great, it’s still pretty good. Especially when you’re hungry, and it’s the only thing in the refrigerator.
The eight-fight card at the Alexis Arguello Sports Center drew just a handful of die-hards despite free tickets and government-backed promotion to the 8,000 seat capacity venue. Fans sat several seats apart from each other, but it’s doubtful the 3,000 or so available were even a third full, and that’s being generous. No official attendance was announced.
But there was live broadcasting in Nicaragua on state-run Canal 6, throughout Latin America on ESPN Knockout, a live feed on YouTube, and live coverage in much of the United States on ESPN Deportes.
Watch the entire card here.
All fans wore masks, as did the trainers and cornermen, and ring announcer and promoter, former two-time world boxing champion Rosendo Álvarez. Referees and ring card girls wore masks as well. The cornermen wore gloves, which isn’t uncommon around the world at any time. As fans entered the venue, they wiped the soles of their shoes on a chlorine soaked mat, and held out their hands for an alcohol spritz. After a temperature check to ensure no fever, fans were allowed to take their seats.
No mask could disguise the presence of former pound-for-pound and WBA World Super Flyweight champion Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, a national icon in Nicaragua, who cheered on the action and discussed his plans to return to the ring in the rematch fans can’t wait to see against Mexican foe Juan Francisco “Gallo” Estrada.
More heart than craft, but fans loved it anyway
It didn’t take more than a few moments to get used to the masks and look right past them. Live boxing was back, and the pizza principle prevailed. How was it?
Sixteen local Nicaraguan boxers gave it their all for a paycheck and more attention than most of them have ever received in their careers. Promoter Alvarez told the Associated Press, “Nicaragua is a poor country, and the boxers have to eat. They can’t stay shut up in their house,” he said. “These boys are aware of the responsibility, we are the light of the world.”
There was sometimes more heart than craft, but it was still a card worth watching from the safety of the living room couch.
In the main event, Robin Zamora (16-7, 8 KOs) won his rematch against Ramiro Blanco (18-7-3. 10 KOs) in an eight-round bout. Zamora scored a second-round TKO win over Blanco last October. This time the pair went the distance in a fairly close contest. Scores were 78-74 and 77-75 X 2.
Blanco had figured something out since the first fight, and he was not afraid of engaging with Zamora, trading plenty of punches at close range. But Zamora delivered consistently good straight left hands to the chin of Blanco throughout the fight. They weren’t good enough to knock him out, but they were good enough to win plenty of rounds for him.
There was a more familiar name to many American fans in the co-main event. Veteran super lightweight Freddy Fonseca (28-5-1, 19 KOs) defeated Alain Aguilar (8-8-2, 1 KO) by fifth-round TKO. Aguilar didn’t get off the chair in the corner after the fourth round. The referee counted him out for the official stoppage. Fonseca, who lost to Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr. by seventh-round TKO on the Canelo Alvarez vs. Daniel Jacobs undercard on May 4, 2019, dominated the four rounds of the fight. Apparently, Aguilar decided to call it a night.
Featherweight Bryan Perez defeated Lester Lara with a second-round knockout. Byron Castellon won his six-round bout by unanimous decision over Eliezer Gazo in a minimumweight bout. Gabriel Escalante took out Mario Mairena with a fifth-round knockout in their welterweight division fight.
Will live boxing play outside Managua?
Will American, Mexican, British, or Japanese fans be willing to go into arenas as a handful of Nicaraguan fans did Saturday? Many will not. Their presence isn’t necessary for boxing to resume. Tentpole fights such as Fury vs. Wilder 3 or Canelo vs. Golovkin 3 will stay on the shelf awaiting better days, but younger fighters are all plenty used to fighting in front of empty arenas from their four round and six round days. Few of them will turn down a paycheck, and there will be plenty of trainers, cornermen, officials, broadcast production staff, and the other people who stage a boxing card who will take the calculated risk as long as minimum protections are in place.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on social media at@PRProSanDiego.
Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.
Copyright © 2020 by Falcon Valley Group