Is New York Shrugging Off Boxing While Embracing The UFC?
By: Sean Crose
Try though they did, fight promoters were unable to convince the New York State Athletic Commission not to enact legislation that could arguably impact boxing in the Empire state in extremely adverse ways. Just how adverse? Picture no more fights – or at least not many fights – in that state that brought the world Ali-Frazier I. As ESPNs Dan Rafael writes, it’s now “onerous for promoters to put on boxing events in New York.” At heart is a new rule that requires one million dollars’ worth of insurance to be on hand for each fighter should said fighters receive brain damage.
That, simply put, is too much for most promoters to afford. It’s not too much for mixed martial arts outfit, the UFC, to afford, however, as it’s a single entity. Indeed, the insurance bump came as a result of legislation allowing the UFC to present fights in New York. Some feel a degree of political BS was involved in the proceedings, as less boxing (along with less MMA from smaller promotional outlets) means more room for the UFC, an extremely lucrative company with popular fighters who are warmly embraced by the mainstream media. Accusations, however, amount to nothing more than accusations without solid proof coming into the equation.
Indeed, Boxing Insider has reached out to the New York State Athletic Commission asking if it believes the new insurance rule will run much of the sport of boxing out of the Empire State. It also asked if the Commission particularly cares if that ends up being the case. To its credit, the Commission has responded promptly and professionally, essentially explaining its case. “While some combative sports industry professionals expressed concern over the premiums for the $1 million coverage,” the Commission states, “these amounts are as yet determined.”
“However,” the Commission adds, “from discussions with insurers about to enter the market, we believe the costs will be reasonable.” There may be those, of course, who will beg to differ. Ultimately, the future will tell whether boxing can stay healthy in New York or not. If business can be done in the state, then it will be done. If it can’t, then business might essentially move across the river to New Jersey, or across state lines to Connecticut casinos. Perhaps the Commission cares. Perhaps not. Truth be told, boxing and the NYSAC have had a rough history as of late. Boxer Magomed Abdusalamov, for instance, had to get his own ride to the hospital after suffering brain damage in a New York City fight a few years back.
That sort of thing hasn’t exactly been good for the Commission’s reputation. Sure enough, Boxing Insider’s Ivan Goldman wrote in the publication back in 2014 that the Commission was “consistently terrible.” And indeed, his argument was sound. “Ring deaths and crippling injuries,” Goldman wrote, “don’t seem to make much difference as New York fails again and again to perform its Number One mission – to keep fighters safe.” Now, of course, the Commission wants to make it known that it’s stepping up to the plate in order to assure fighter safety. “NYSAC’s primary objective,” the Commission informs Boxing Insider, “is to ensure the safest environment for combative sports in the nation so that combat athletes competing in New York State incur the fewest and least severe injuries possible.”
A fair and laudable objective, to be sure…though it’s easy to keep boxers from getting harmed in New York if they’re unable to fight in New York.