For the love of boxing

OPSI: Promoting fight cards amid pandemic ‘not easy, but all worth it’

By: Dale Rosal - CDN Digital | July 20,2021 - 06:00 PM
OPSI

OPSI vice president Jerome Calatrava (right) poses with boxer Christian Araneta in this contributed photo.

CEBU CITY, Philippines—Cebu was once billed as the “Boxing Mecca of Asia” by some boxing experts and fans for being consistent hosts of numerous world title and regional title bouts.

But just like everything else, that changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The pandemic put all sports on hold, including boxing. 

But Cebu-based boxing outfit, the Omega Pro Sports International (OPSI), dared to defy the odds by spearheading the revival of boxing events. 

During their CDN Digital SportsTalk guesting, OPSI’s vice president Jerome Calatrava detailed how a boxing promotion like them hurdled the difficulties of promoting a boxing event in these trying times. 

In October 2020, OPSI led the revival of the sport. 

They successfully staged the first fight card after the pandemic, which was the “Kumbati 5”. 

They successfully promoted it with flying colors, despite following an unfamiliar system under the “new normal”.

“Dili gyud sayon,” was how Calatrava described  promoting a boxing event under the new normal.

(It really isn’t easy.)

Calatrava said that among the things OPSI needed to strictly follow was an intricate set of protocols from the joint administrative order imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), Department of Health (DOH), the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), and the Games and Amusements Board (GAB). 

“It’s quite a difficult task. Daghan kaayo ka ug health and safety protocols nga sundon nga gi mandate aning mga government agencies. The joint administrative order, naa diha tanan. It’s like a book of protocols that you need to follow to organize a sports event that is approved by the IATF, DOH, PSC, and GAB,” he said.

(It’s quite a difficult task. There are a lot of health and safety protocols that need to be followed that is mandated by these government agencies. The joint administrative order, it’s all there. It’s like a book of protocols that you need to follow to organize a sports event that is approved by the IATF, DOH, PSC, and GAB.)

Aside from that, Calatrava said that they also needed to get a permit from the local government unit (LGU) to hold a boxing event in a bubble setup. 

Calatrava said that their bubble setup is inspired by the American sports scene, particularly the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida. 

“We follow the same, but ours here is shorter because it’s a boxing event. We only needed a 14-day bubble based on the quarantine period.”

During the 14-day bubble, all boxers and trainers in their fight cards were housed in the Omega Boxing Gym in Mandaue City. Everyone inside the bubble were not allowed to go out or have contact with a person who is not part of the bubble to prevent COVID-19 transmission. 

Also, all boxers and trainers were subjected to COVID-19 testing before they were allowed to enter the bubble. They are re-tested on the eve of their respective fights. Referees, boxing judges, and the rest of the officials who supervise the fight card were also subjected to an antigen test during fight day.

OPSI’s production team is also tested before the fight. 

PURPOSE-DRIVEN

Despite the difficulties, OPSI managed to hold six successful fight cards of their “Kumbati” boxing series from October 2020 to July 2021. Their main purpose in promoting boxing events under the new normal is to provide livelihood not just for their boxers, but also to everyone in the local boxing community who were badly affected by the pandemic.

It also paved the way for their prospects Mark Vicelles, Pete Apolinar, Christian Araneta and others to display their talents in boxing. 

On top of that, OPSI helped dozens of individuals from the utilities, production team, boxing trainers, boxing officials, and, most especially, boxers earn a livelihood after months of inactivity due to the pandemic. 

“Regardless of the difficulty, doing a promotion is all worth it. I don’t mind,” Calatrava said.  “We always care for our boxers’ future. We love the sport of boxing, we love promoting and showcasing the talents in Omega, we want to show the world what we are capable of.”

After OPSI successfully staged Kumbati 5, which marked the revival of boxing in the country, many boxing promotions followed suit and held their own events.

OPSI’s July 3 fight card, “Kumbati 10,” earned praises from boxing fans and experts for promoting a smooth and successful fight card amidst the pandemic. 

OPSI has no plans of slowing down. In fact, they are planning to promote another fight card before 2021 ends.

/bmjo

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TAGS: Jerome Calatrava, Kumbati, Omega Pro Sports International, OPSI

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