Tag Archives: covid

Eric Kelly Talks to Boxing Insider Radio About His New Gym And The Effects of COVID-19

Posted on 05/27/2020

COVID-19 may have forced us inside of our homes, but Boxing Insider Radio is still here to keep you up to date with what’s going on in the boxing world. For this weeks episode, former amateur standout and current SouthBox gym owner Eric Kelly goes into detail on the new reality facing the boxing community and his ambition to open a new boxing gym in the midst of a pandemic. To tune into the show simply subscribe to Boxing Insider Radio on Spotify, iTunes or on Boxinginsider.com.

COVID-19 appeared to us like a thief in the night. Taking all of our belongings and leaving many of us wondering what the hell just happened? The lives of millions across the world have been changed by the deadly disease, but amongst the most affected group have been the gym community, more specially, those who are located in the New York area. 

From the very moment the virus made its unwanted presence known in the United States, many of us laughed. Now, nearly four months in and over 100,000 deaths and counting, no one is laughing anymore. 

But while COVID-19 hit unassuming New Yorkers with the same ferocity as former Heavyweight champion and current Hall of Famer “Smokin” Joe Frazier once did, former New York City standout amateur boxer and renowned gym owner of SouthBox Eric Kelly saw this coming a mile away. And while they say it’s the punches that you don’t see coming that leave the most deleterious effect, Kelly, while fully braced, still felt the immediate impact of COVID-19.

“I got wind of this stuff months ago when it was brewing in China pretty bad,” said Kelly on Boxing Insider Radio. “I noticed things were starting to change. So I kind of knew beforehand that we were going to close these gyms down.”

While the virus has no issue attacking every and anyone that crosses its deadly path, it seems to have a soft spot for New Yorkers. The city that “never sleeps” is anything but awake at the moment. And now, gym owners such as Kelly fully understand that it won’t be an easy process to awaken a once prosperous city, let alone boxing gyms that are currently in desperate need of help at the moment. 

“Reason being is boxing gyms are a hot bed for plagues such as COVID-19. A lot of body fluids being exchanged in the gym. When it officially happened I was so distraught. Like I had a hard time even breaking it to my clients. How do I tell them that we have to close? And after I tell them that we have too close, are they going to comeback?”

Finding a gym in New York City is akin to locating a Mcdonalds or your local corner store. In short, it isn’t hard to find. Yet with the entire clientele of Kelly seemingly up for grabs from local competition, he was given somewhat of a reprieve in the shape of Governor Cuomo.

May 25, 2019; Oxon Hill, MD; Devin Haney and Antonio Moran during their bout at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, MD. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA

“When Cuomo came out and said every gym had too close, I immediately said thank you,” said Kelly while laughing. “Not really thank you but thank you, I’m not the only one.”

The smile on Kelly’s didn’t last long as he discussed the struggles that gym owners not only have to deal with today, but also when this virus is long gone. 

“It’s gonna be a little bit of a step back. People aren’t going to so gung-ho to jump back into the gym.”

Still, even with the immediate prospects of owning a gym not proving to be worth it in this day and age, Kelly isn’t ready to give up on his life long passion just yet. In fact, he’s doubling down. 

The Bronx native has boarded up the walls and locked the doors on his once prominent SouthBox home. He’s traded in the keys to his successful gym in and in turn, received a new pair.

“I’m opening up a new SouthBox. The old gym was just a try out, it was just a test. Our plan was never to stay at the old gym and now we are actually going to take down that entire building. The old SouthBox was just to see if people were going to come and could we get people’s attention.”

The attention and spotlight has always been fixated on Kelly. As an amateur fighter, he cruised to a 104-14 record while ranking number one in the country. And while his future was unbelievably bright, an eye injury left his ambitions unrealistic. 

Although his pro dreams were never achieved, the success that he’s had in the gym industry is second to none. With that reasoning in mind, Kelly isn’t worried about the push back he could receive, or the countless “out of business” signs that he notices on gym doors everywhere. He’s spent several years building his name and his brand. And much like his attitude in the ring, he has no problem going toe to toe with COVID-19. 

“A couple gyms are going to go out of business. But the new SouthBx is going to succeed. We did all of the groundwork and research. So I’m confident that my brand is going to succeed.”

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Bob Arum: “We Plan To Launch The First Week in June”

Posted on 05/12/2020

By: Hans Themistode

Top Rank CEO Bob Arum is done waiting. COVID-19 forced his promotional company to take a standing eight, but before the referee could fully count them out, it seems as though they aren’t done just yet. 

During this worldwide pandemic, Arum was given no choice but to axe several of his shows, including the first title defense of WBO Featherweight champion Shakur Stevenson against perpetual contender Miguel Marriaga. Now, nearly three months later, Arum is putting the pieces in place to bring live boxing back to television screens. But not without a few major changes. 

“We have contacted most of our fighters,” Arum told co-hosts Gerry Cooney and Randy Gordon. “We plan to launch the first week in June in a safe, secure way. We’re gonna initially launch in Nevada. We’ve made arrangements or are making arrangements with a hotel. We can get everybody tested, put them in a bubble and get these fights on. And unfortunately, because a lot of it requires so much extra work and care and testing that we’re gonna limit our fight shows to four fights a card. But that’s the bad side.”

“The good side is we hope, we’re arranging with ESPN to do two or three events every week. So, because you know, you take a big sports network like ESPN, ESPN+, they don’t have live sports now. Putting boxing on, particularly top-level boxing, will attract big audiences.”

While there is a certain appreciation for classic boxing fights, sports fans have grown tired of watching matchups that while they are classics, the outcome is already known. 

With only a few weeks remaining until the calendar turns and June arrives, Arum did not mention which fighters from his stable he had in mind for its return. 

COVID-19 does not appear to be slowing down in its death march, but Arum has a blueprint he could follow in order to churn out the number of shows he is aiming for. 

This past weekend, UFC President Dana White was successful in his own attempt to bring his sport back into the homes of those who are starved for it. UFC 249, which took place in Jacksonville, Florida, came and went without a hitch. The event took place without fans in the arena and with major precaution such as trainers wearing a mask throughout the duration of the contest, announcers which typically are done in groups of three were seated away from one another, and fighters were tested both before and after the event. 

By all accounts their safety measures worked. One fighter, Jacare Souza, did come down with the virus but he was immediately pulled from the card. The UFC intends to host more shows since their first was a success. 

Even during a day and age where the world is starved for money due to work shortages, the UFC event managed to pull in over 700,000 pay per view buys. A number that may have caught the eye of Arum. 

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Vasyl Lomachenko On Teofimo Lopez: “He Holds My Belt”

Posted on 04/08/2020

By: Sean Crose

“There will be very limited time to go outside,” unified lightweight champ Vasyl Lomachenko said of life in his home country of the Ukraine during the international COVID-19 pandemic. “You will have to be in your house. You can’t gather more than two or three people. The situation is like you can only take your dog out for a walk or go out for something very serious. Other than that, you have to sit at home. You can’t even walk with your kids outside. Everyone will be on lockdown. This will go on until April 24 starting on Monday.” 

The fighter known as “Hi Tech” had hoped to be facing off against IBF champ Teofimo Lopez, one of the fastest rising start in boxing. Now, however, he has to wait. “Of course, I was disappointed a little bit,” he told Crystina Poncher of the hoped for fight being put on hold, “but everything that’s happening {with self-quarantines} is happening for the better. The most important thing is for all the people on this planet to get back and get healthy and everything will go back to normal.” As for Lopez, Lomachenko had plenty to say of the rising star. 

“I really think he’s a good boxer,” he told Poncher. “He’s a top fighter. He’s young, he’s hungry, he has big power, and I want this fight. He’s a world champion, and he holds my belt. It’s IBF title.” As far as how an eventual battle with Lopez might end, Lomachenko played it close to the vest. “Nobody knows,” he said. “It’s very unpredictable. Nobody can predict what is going to happen, how it’s going to happen. And the people are talking about which round they are going to knock somebody out or stop somebody. I am getting very, very interested. Now, I want to see.” 

Asked about Lopez’ shoulder roll defense, Lomachenko admitted it’s a difficult tactic to crack. “It is not an easy type of fighting,” he stated. “It is not an easy style. It is easier to fight attacking fighters who are coming forward. It’s much easier. This type of counterpuncher is more difficult to fight. The winner will be who has the better boxing IQ. But that style with the shoulder, I think I know what I have to do to win.” Speaking of the shoulder roll defense, Lomachenko was asked who out of all the boxers in history he’d like to have battled. 

“Of course I would like to fight somebody who is undefeated,” he said, “who has a good history, who has a big name. I think the most interesting name for me to fight would be Floyd Mayweather.”

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