By Doug Halberstadt
Last Saturday night (March 9), I arrived at the Fusion Sports Center in Loves Park, Ill., anticipating a great evening of professional boxing. It was billed as the Pre-St. Patrick’s Day Massacre. The main event was supposed to feature my friend, Skylar Thompson, fighting for an Irish Boxing Federation World Title. I was genuinely excited and looking forward to cheering him on.
The doors were supposed to open at 7 p.m. I arrived a few minutes early and immediately suspected that something might not be entirely right. The parking lot only had about six cars in it. I quickly dismissed my initial doubt by rationalizing it with the fact that I had a “VIP” ticket and the majority of the crowd would arrive later. I took advantage of the empty lot, and secured a front-row spot.
This was the first time I’d ever been to this building, so I had no idea what to expect upon entering. All I had been told is it was supposed to have been set up as a 5,000-seat arena. I was a bit surprised to walk in and not see a boxing ring set up anywhere in sight. There wasn’t any indication this venue was going to turn into a 5,000-, let alone a 500-, seat arena in the next hour or so. I looked and looked again, and still no ring. Instead, I found a great facility if you wanted to participate in indoor soccer.
Thankfully, it was at that point that a woman noticed my bewilderment and asked if I was there for the fights. I said I was. She told me they had been canceled a few days earlier. I was thoroughly disappointed and even borderline angry. Then, it hit me: if I felt that way, imagine how my friend Skylar must have been feeling.
He’s the one who not only had a large amount of his time, but also his money, invested in this evening. I know he has been vigorously training for the past couple of months. One evening, I saw him out running along East State Street in extremely cold conditions. He wanted this fight and was willing to do whatever it took to be ready for it. That’s the time portion of the equation.
I also know firsthand that he endured a financial loss. He put up a substantial amount of his personal money for promotional printing, security deposits and miscellaneous other pre-fight expenses.
After poking around and asking some questions, I was able to learn that the Illinois Boxing Commission pulled the plug on this event. The unofficial word is red tape and paperwork deadlines were not met according to their regulations. Therefore, the show could not go on, according to them.
Score this one a TKO for the paperwork police. Unfortunately, no one comes away a winner when that happens.
From the March 13-19, 2013, issue