How Boxing Survived Covid-19 In 2020
By: Sean Crose
Things started interestingly enough. Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder met for the second time, Anthony Joshua planned to meet Kubrat Pulev, and fighters like Ryan Garcia and Caleb Plant continued to impress. Then came the pandemic. As the world shut down, so did the sport of boxing. As the people waited to leave home, boxing fans wondered when they would be able to see their favorites again – and what the sport would look like if and when life got back to normal. Needless to say, neither the world, nor the sport of boxing, has gotten back to normal. Still, the sweet science appears to have survived the most dramatic year in recent memory in better condition than many might have thought it would.
The reason? Good fights. Perhaps not great fights, but good fights. Through regular quality matchmaking, fans were able to wrap up the year having seen variety of interesting matchups that occurred over the course of just a few months. While the fight game was dormant for a good chunk of 2020, it’s hard to say the entire twelve month period has been a failure. Credit, for once, to the sport’s powers that be.
After boxing returned slowly but surely in the summer months to broadcast airwaves, fans were prepared to watch major matches, often in empty arenas, in the last quarter of the year. In September, both Charlo brothers had impressive showings against Sergiy Derevynachenko and Jeison Rosario respectively. What’s more, in October, in what was perhaps the year’s biggest fight, fans saw Josesito Lopez shock Vasyl Lomachenko…on ESPN, no less.
Later that month, Gervonta Davis knocked out Leo Santa Cruz in stunning fashion. A few weeks after that, in November, Terence Crawford blasted a past this prime, but incredibly game, Kell Brook out of the water in a matter of rounds. A few weeks afterward, in what was the strangest event of the year, Mike Tyson and Roy Jones brought in a tone of eyeballs and money via a pay per view exhibition match. It may not have been a true professional fight, but it brought the sport attention. Lastly, Errol Spence Jr dominated Danny Garcia and Canelo Alvarez rung out the deadly year by thoroughly dominating super middleweight titlist Callum Smith in December.
Looking over the entire twelve month period, things could have gone much worse boxing-wise, especially when one considers the pandemic and its impact on the entire globe. Not only were there high level matchups, the year also saw Anthony Joshua and Gennadiy Golovkin back in the ring facing mandatories. Hopefully things will return to normal in 2021…and top level fights will be free to watch, as was the case with Lopez-Lomachenko and Crawford-Brook, more often than not.