DiBella Entertainment (“DBE”), the most active boxing promoter in New York and one of the foremost in the United States, announced Friday that it has released its dates on hold with the New York State Athletic Commission through the end of the year, effectively ending the boxing program in New York until at least 2017. The announcement is a direct result of New York’s new insurance requirements, which have made it impossible for promoters to purchase the coverage necessary to do an event in the state and the New York State Athletic Commission’s failure to use its authority to alter the requirements.
N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 1015, colloquially known as the MMA Law as it also served to legalize Mixed Martial Arts in the state, went into effect on September 1, 2016, requiring promoters to purchase $50,000 in medical coverage and $50,000 in death benefits for all athletes competing in an event; this is an increase from $10,000 in medical coverage and $10,000 in death benefits, but is in keeping with other states at the forefront of boxing safety such as California and Nevada.
However, the law took the unprecedented step of requiring $1 million of coverage per athlete in the event of life threatening brain injury. No insurance carrier has been authorized by the state to offer such a policy and it does not appear that, despite the efforts of various promoters and the Commission, such a policy is imminent.
The practical impact of the law, meant to provide increased safety to professional boxers, is the extinction of boxing in New York and shows being moved to nearby jurisdictions where the insurance requirements provide much less coverage for the athletes.
There has not been a professional boxing event in New York since August 21, when DBE promoted Errol Spence Jr. vs. Leonard Bundu at the Ford Amphitheater in Brooklyn. WBA Middleweight Champion Danny Jacobs, who was born and resides in Brooklyn, had planned to defend his title in September at Barclays Center, but the bout was moved to Pennsylvania due to the insurance barrier.
September 2016 marked the first time in over 11 years since a full calendar month occurred without a professional boxing event in New York.
“There is such a rich history of boxing in New York,” said Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment. “And now the sport has, for all intents and purposes, been evicted by a legislature willfully ignorant of both the boxing and insurance industries. The actions of the powers that be in Albany and their political appointees are depriving New York state residents in the sport of boxing from their livelihoods. This is hitting boxers very hard, as most struggle to pay their bills and need to be active. Small businesses are being put at jeopardy with no recourse or ability to continue plying their trade.