Boxing returns to Madison Square Garden’s main arena Saturday for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Promoter Bob Arum, who turned 90 three days ago, brings three-division champion Vasiliy Lomachenko back to the Garden to headline with a 12-round lightweight bout against Richard Commey.
"Madison Square Garden is a special place for me because during my professional career I had a lot of memorable fights here," said Lomachenko, 15-2, speaking at a news conference on Thursday. "It is the Mecca of Boxing."
Making his Garden debut in a four-round fight is middleweight Nico Ali Walsh, the grandson of Muhammad Ali.
While there have been three cards at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, the last boxing card inside the main arena occurred when Arum brought welterweight champion Terence Crawford to New York on Dec. 14, 2019. In the co-main event that night, Teofimo Lopez knocked out Commey in two rounds. (Lopez defeated Lomachenko in October of 2020 to unify the lightweight division.)
"This is my second time coming here," said Commey, 30-3. "The last time didn’t work out well for me [against Teofimo Lopez], so I have the opportunity to right the wrong. Losing is part of boxing, so regardless of how you lose, it’s all about coming back."
Ali Walsh, 2-0 with two knockouts, hopes to impress inside the building in which his grandfather had some of his greatest moments.
"This is such a humbling experience and it’s been an honor," said Ali Walsh, at the press gathering. "It's been a whirlwind these last couple of months, and to be among these great fighters... all these fighters I've watched before in the past. Being on the undercard of Lomachenko is amazing."
Lomachenko, a two-time Olympic gold medalist from the Ukraine, isn’t looking past Commey.
"As I said before, [Commey] has big power and reach and has experience and a big heart." said Lomachenko. "I think we are giving a very interesting fight to the fans. I’m very excited because this is the next step of my boxing career, and it will be very interesting for the fans."
The card will be broadcast on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ and the undercard will be streamed on ESPN+. Also fighting is U.S. Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis (3-0, 2 KOs) against Jose Zaragoza (8-3-1, 2 KOs) in a six-round lightweight fight and junior middleweight Xander Zayas (11-0, 8 KOs) in a six-rounder.