The boxing world and fans were stunned by the announcement made on behalf of University of Texas system chancellor Francisco Cigarroa that the June 16 bout between WBC world middleweight champion Julio Chavez Jr. and Ireland's Andy Lee was canceled.
The claim made as the reason for the cancellation was called a "higher than normal" risk assessment, but there were no details released. It's a claim that hasn't been backed up by law enforcement.
"A specific event risk assessment was performed and the conclusion was that the risk was higher than normal." the statement released by the University of Texas said. "Based on this assessment, the decision was made that the university and Sun Bowl would not be an appropriate venue for this specific event."
El Paso officials outraged
El Paso city officials are reacting strongly to the cancellation, as well they should. The politics of the day on the national level are served by a narrative that suggests the border regions are a chaotic mess, where violence rules the day. That is simply not the case, but fear-mongering politicians and disreputable news outlets don't care about facts.
"It stems from this general climate of fear being created by some, that the border is unsafe," said state Senator Jose Rodriquez, a Democrat who represents El Paso. "This is the latest example of the kind of decisions that are going to do incalculable harm to border communities."
The El Paso city manager and police chief have demanded University of Texas system administrators show them a risk assessment report not just for the event in question, but for all similar events held at the Sun Bowl over the last five years.
That's a smart move, and should bring to light the real reasons for the cancellation. If they are valid, which at this point seems unlikely, then so be it. If the reasoning is based on hysteria, appropriate action should be taken. Boxing fans, as well as the city of El Paso, deserve real information instead of being cast in a negative light that shouldn't be applied.
Personally, I'm no big fan of El Paso or the Sun Bowl, but there is absolutely no reason to punish either for what are very likely political motivations.
Jeff Musall has been a fan of good boxing since he watched the Thrilla in Manila so many years ago when he was just a kid. He is still a fan of a good bout and enjoys the skill and science involved.