Philippine boxing shows put on hold by quarantine
When pro boxing returns in the Philippines, it will probably do so under strict social distancing measures.
A draft proposal from the Games and Amusements Board, which oversees all professional sports in the Philippines, calls for local government approval for each card, with masks and thermal scanners for all entrants into venues. COVID-19 testing for both local and foreign fighters on the day of the fight, temperature monitoring for 14 days prior to the fight and a completed health declaration form are also included, though GAB chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra says all suggestions will be subject to confirmation from the country’s Department of Health.
Mitra, who took note of the fights this past weekend in Nicaragua and South Korea, adds that fans would likely have to sit three seats apart. He hopes COVID-19 testing could be amended into the GAB’s existing agreement with the DOH for free pre-licensing medical examinations.
“It’s really gonna be different if a vaccine comes,” Mitra adds.
The resumption of boxing, and many other businesses, are contingent on the status of quarantine measures enacted throughout the country.
Much of the country’s northern island, Luzon, where Metro Manila is located, is under “enhanced community quarantine” until at least May 15, with no land, air or sea travel allowed and only essential businesses allowed to operate. The rest of the country will be under the less-restrictive “general community quarantine” beginning May 1, with public transportation resuming in limited operation and some non-essential businesses allowed to operate.
“Sports-related mass gatherings,” including games and tournaments, are not allowed under any level of quarantine, a government spokesperson said Tuesday. The government has described the quarantine as “the new normal,” until a vaccine is available.
The verbiage seemed to leave open the possibility of closed-door events where limited personnel would be in attendance.
Mitra says that boxing shows can be expected to resume once casino operations restart as “sports and gaming are similar or tied up with each other.”
Included in the industries that won’t be opened under general quarantine are “gyms, fitness studios, sports facilities,” which means boxing gyms would remain closed.
The last show in the Philippines was on March 9 in Cebu City, when ArAr Andales knocked out Rey Caitom in five rounds on a card promoted by Big Yellow Boxing Promotion.
Among the four current Philippine champions, only WBO bantamweight titleholder John Riel Casimero is out of the country, having been in training in Las Vegas when his fight against Naoya Inoue was postponed by the coronavirus pandemic. IBF junior bantamweight titleholder Jerwin Ancajas and IBF strawweight titleholder Pedro Taduran are at their respective home farms in Cavite and Albay provinces, respectively.
Manny Pacquiao, who holds the WBA welterweight belt, is a first-term senator in the Philippines, and is expected to be in attendance when the Senate resumes on May 4.
To date, the Philippines has nearly 8,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, with over 500 deaths and nearly 1,000 patients have recovered. Over two-thirds of the cases have been in the National Capital Region of Metro Manila.
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected]
THE FOUR KINGS SPECIAL AVAILABLE ON PRE-ORDER NOW AT THE RING SHOP (CLICK HERE) or Subscribe