Rare was the moment when Miguel Cotto fought in front of anything less than a rabid crowd during the heart of his incredible.
As much has been the case during his time as a full-time promoter in his native Puerto Rico although those days are about to change.
The retired former four-division titlist is taking steps to return boxing to his beloved island, which hasn’t hosted a live event since late February due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Cotto’s company, Miguel Cotto Promotions (MCP) and partner Hector Soto’s H2 Entertainment have been in touch with the Puerto Rico Department of Recreation and Sports and the local boxing commission with a proposal to present the first event—behind closed doors—as early as August.
“The plan we submitted is about how we can do events and get boxing back to work without [fans in attendance],” Bryan Perez, executive director of MCP told BoxingScene.com. “We want to show them that we are prepared to follow all [safety and health] protocols to make this work.”
The U.S. territory has been under lockdown and curfew since March 15, with both having recently been extended at least through May 25. Essential businesses have remained open, with all required to comply with social distancing and curfew rules. Non-essential workers continue to be limited to working remotely, while establishments such as arenas and gyms remain closed to the general public.
Cotto’s company has presented just one fight in Puerto Rico this year, a February 15 show in San Juan which came in the wake of a series of earthquakes which wreaked havoc on the southern portion of the island. Puerto Rico has hosted just four total shows in 2020, the last of which came February 28 in Trujillo Alto.
Under the proposed protocol, future shows will have to come with all participants—boxers, team members, appointed ring and commission officials and television crews—subjected to full testing, with the first round to come at the start of fight week. MCP is working with DirecTV Puerto Rico to present such events.
All ring officials will be required to wear protective equipment. Judges will score from behind a plastic screen, while the referee will wear long-sleeve shirts and changing masks and gloves after each fight.
The majority of MCP events have taken place in front of packed houses and a lively atmosphere. Those days will have to change in order for its fighters to potentially get back to work. For the likes of its fighters such as former champions Angel ‘Tito’ Acosta and Alberto Machado and its slew of rising prospects and contenders, it’s a step that all are willing to take in order to resume their respective careers.
“We’re all just trying to survive this new reality,” notes Perez.
One proposed hosting venue is Centro de Entrenamiento Nilmari Santini Martín, located on site of the Department of Recreation and Sports. Such policies are pending approval and would have to meet existing curfew policies in order to move forward.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox