Monday, June 8, 2020

Thoughts On Molina-Munoz And The First Step In Boxing’s Return

With the COVID-19 crisis still an issue throughout the world, the sport of Boxing began the initial step in its resumption on June 6th with a card in Patzcuaro, Mexico. As readers may recall in the column released here on The Boxing Truth® last week discussing Boxing’s return, this observer shared his concerns regarding the ongoing epidemic. At the same time, I was curious as to what Boxing behind closed doors or simply without spectators would look like. This short card headlined by a Jr. Middleweight bout between former IBF Jr. Middleweight world champion Carlos Molina and veteran Michi Munoz provided somewhat of an idea on what one can expect as the sport continues to attempt to resume amid the ongoing global crisis.

Although initially material regarding this card was intended to be covered in short-form where yours truly offers fight by fight analysis, which is similar to what readers are offered when the sport is in its normal active state, unfortunately, a technological glitch bedeviled this observer and I was not able to view this card as it took place. Thanks to advances in technology however, where a majority of content can be viewed on demand after an event takes place, I was able to view the card a day after it occurred.

Rather than discuss each fight in detail given the difficulty that I had accessing the card, which has thus adjusted what yours truly had originally hoped to offer readers, I will instead offer my impressions on the event itself as well as thoughts on the main event. In terms of the atmosphere of the card, which was closed to the public, the outdoor event offered a small, but intimate atmosphere that was in some ways similar to what one would see on a Boxing or MMA event that is held in a hotel ballroom or concert hall, simply without the addition of fans beyond necessary event personnel and the fighters respective camps.

Obviously, the main thing that concerned me that will remain a concern as long as the COVID-19 epidemic remains the crisis that it has evolved into was what precautions were taken to hopefully to best ensure the safety of everyone involved. While I cannot speak as to what testing protocols were in place for this particular event, what was visible was recommendations that numerous medical experts have stressed since the COVID-19 crisis began. All those in attendance wore face masks and did appear to observe social distancing guidelines while outside the ring. This included the ring announcer, broadcast team, other necessary event personnel, referees, and the camps of all the fighters as well. The fighters meanwhile entered the ring wearing face masks and left the ring wearing masks. It was only when the fighters were actively competing that no masks were worn.

In this aspect while I was still and remain concerned for obvious reasons, I felt based on what I saw that every precaution was likely taken and I was impressed that the situation regarding the COVID-19 virus was by all accounts taken seriously rather than with little regard as we all have unfortunately seen by some in various news stories that have circulated throughout every aspect of media since this crisis began. Although I won’t go as far as saying that it proves that the sport as a whole can operate under circumstances of an epidemic, what I did see from this event was at least a step in the right direction.

In the main event of this card Carlos Molina, who was also one of the event’s promoters, looked impressive in stopping a very “Game” Michi Munoz in six rounds. A question that will remain part of most discussions as Boxing looks to resume under unprecedented circumstances due to COVID-19 is what preparation are fighters going to be able to do while this crisis continues and how will the epidemic affect their performances in the ring if they are cleared to compete?

 If one was unaware of the circumstances of this epidemic, Carlos Molina’s performance in this fight would give the impression that there was at least for him no difficulties in his training/preparation for this bout. One thing that likely served Molina, who held the IBF world championship in the Jr. Middleweight division from 2013-2014, well was his last fight was in February of this year shortly before the COVID-19 epidemic became a global crisis. For him, the issue of inactivity was at least for this fight a non-issue as it is not uncommon for veteran fighters, prospects, and contenders to look to compete every couple of months in hopes of securing an opportunity to fight for a world championship. Many at the very top level of the sport however, typically compete between once or twice a year due largely to the position they are in economically, which allows them to earn significantly each time they compete.

In this fight, Molina consistently beat Munoz to the punch, often throwing his punches in two or three punch combinations while Munoz struggled to return offense. What was particularly impressive was how the former world champion balanced his attack to the body and head of his opponent in mixing in hooks, uppercuts, and other offense into the combinations he threw. Although Michi Munoz, who himself was a veteran of thirty-eight professional fights prior to this encounter, kept coming forward, he was simply tactically outgunned by Molina on this night. Gradually as the fight progressed, it appeared as though Molina was slowly breaking Munoz down. After watching their fighter sustain mostly one-way punishment, Munoz corner stopped the fight after the sixth round.

While readers are used to seeing me talk about what might be next for a fighter after a fight like this, the reality is the sport is no where near its normal active state. As things are likely to remain touch and go due largely to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, a recurring theme will be how and if the circumstances of this virus improves that will be the ultimate determining factor in not only how active a fighter can be under these circumstances, but also whether the sport can operate and do so successfully under circumstances of an epidemic before fighters can realistically plan for and prepare for what they want to do next, and for those who cover Boxing like yours truly to be able to discuss it further beyond a theoretical scenario.

At least for the moment, Boxing has succeeded in taking an initial step in the right direction. While it is unrealistic under circumstances where Boxing, the rest of the sports world, and the world in general are in unchartered waters to expect everything to run akin to what one would expect when things are normal, as the Boxing world now turns its attention to Las Vegas, NV for two scheduled Boxing cards promoted by Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum, if they can follow what was accomplished on this card where medical guidelines appeared to be followed, it should be viewed as progress.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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