Sunday, October 21, 2012

Barclays Center inaugural boxing round-up: a triumph (except for the failed drug test, papered house, and delayed return card)

While nearly all coverage of the inaugural night of boxing last night at the Barclays Center was laudatory, SI.com's Brian Armen Graham was a skeptic, and the facts that the arena papered the house and boxing won't return monthly--which went unmentioned in most the coverage I scanned--were factors.

Graham wrote, Boxing's return to Brooklyn: one-sided fights and bad promoter deal
The built-in hook for Saturday's fight card at the Barclays Center -- where Danny Garcia nearly decapitated a faded Erik Morales in the main event to defend his junior welterweight titles -- was the return of championship boxing to Brooklyn for the first time since before La Guardia was mayor.

...Brooklyn may be fertile ground for the sweet science, but events like this one won't be enough for the seed to find purchase.
The reason: one-sided bouts:
Four one-sided fights feels more like fulfilling business relationships and obligations than producing an authentic sports experience for fans.

Looking back, maybe the plan to reestablish boxing in Brooklyn was flawed from inception. The Barclays Center signed an three-year agreement with Golden Boy, cash up front being no small matter for a $1 billion building that admirably went up without public subsidies. But the short-sightedness of inking an exclusive deal with a promoter was laid bare in February, when the building missed the opportunity to host a Wladimir Klitschko fight because the heavyweight champ's promotional team understandably balked at sharing revenue with a co-promoter they didn't need.

Golden Boy made another dubious move on Wednesday, when it offered free tickets to the first 1,000 fans who could prove Brooklyn residency -- an effective one-finger salute to the diehards who bought tickets early. When you paper a house, you risk killing a market. Needless to say, the gambit played no small part in boosting the announced attendance of 11,112 -- if not the live gate of just under $800,000.
(Emphasis added)

The building didn't go up without public subsidies, as I commented, citing direct subsidies, tax breaks, eminent domain, etc. And the state gave away naming rights. Also, the free tickets were courtesy of the fledging Brett Yormark Foundation.

The press cheers

New York Times, Brooklyn Welcomes Back Title Fights:
Championship boxing returned to Brooklyn on Saturday night for the first time in 81 years. The borough deserted by baseball’s Dodgers in the 1950s and now embraced by the N.B.A.’s Nets, held four title bouts at the newly built Barclays Center.

Before the arena opened for the nine-card bout, hundreds of eager fans spilled out of the Atlantic Avenue subway station to line up in front of its doors, behind which a few Brooklyn brawlers were hoping to make history of their own.

“The last good fight I saw in Brooklyn was on the No. 2 train last week,” said Monica Johnson, a 24-year-old grocery clerk from Flatbush. “If any of these fights tonight are as good as that one, it’s going to get real crazy in here.”

...“It’s a thrill for me to have been a part of all of this great history of Brooklyn boxing,” [Danny] Jacobs said after the fight with nary a scratch. “I’m ready to do it again next week.”
Boxing.com, Barclays Winners Squared Circle:
The inaugural fight card at Brooklyn’s spanking new Barclays Center was a smashing success. The four fights broadcast on Showtime did not, however, come off without a hitch. There were two failed drugs tests, an inability to make weight, and there were no upsets. But three of the four fights were entertaining, and two of the four were even competitive.

The main evening of the evening featured super lightweight champion Danny Garcia (25-0, 16 KOs) defending his WBC/WBA titles in a rematch with Erik Morales (52-9, 36 KOs). Morales had failed two pre-fight drug tests yet he was given a green light [link] to fight. The reasons for this are as inexplicable as they are inconclusive.
ESPN, Brooklyn wins big at Barclays:
The Barclays Center has provided a new home and a new name for what are now the Brooklyn Nets of the NBA -- although early preseason results suggest it has done nothing to magically improve that team's results. The arena's first experiment in bringing big-time boxing back to the borough, however, saw the home team sweep the wins, sometimes in style.

OK, Paulie Malignaggi might have benefitted slightly from hometown cooking in eking out a split-decision win against Pablo Cesar Cano. But, close and hard-fought though it was, it was clear how much the win -- and the experience -- meant to the "Magic Man."


...this is New York, so everything was bigger: the beautiful new venue, the crowd that didn't quite fill it in numbers but filled it with noise, and the number of local fighters who represented their city and their borough.
The New York Daily News, Brooklyn-native Mike Tyson on hand at Barclays Center to see Danny Garcia KO Erik Morales in fourth round:
“This is a milestone for Brooklyn,’’ said Tyson, who grew up in Brownsville and drew one of the biggest cheers of the night. “It’s good to see the people here. They have jobs. They’re happy. This is just the beginning. I believe after this first night we’re going to see marvelous things here.’’

The first title match of the evening, featuring Randall Bailey defending his IBF welterweight title against Devon Alexander, was so boring that the fans booed throughout. It was the first world championship fight in Brooklyn in 81 years and never have so many waited so long for so little.
USA TODAY:
Even the pro-Brooklyn crowd booed at the decision [for local Paulie Malignaggi].

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