The original plan was to have Yuri Foreman—the Belarusian-born middleweight champion of the world, who in his spare time studies to be an Orthodox rabbi—fight Puerto Rican sensation Miguel Cotto in a dramatic June 5th bout to take place at none other than Yankee Stadium. “I’m very excited to defend my title in New York, which is the Jewish capital of the Diaspora,” Foreman said. A friend of his hyped it further: “It may be the biggest Jewish sporting event of all time, certainly since David fought Goliath.”
But Foreman, Cotto, and boxing promotion company Top Rank—led by legendary promoter Bob Arum, himself no stranger to, well, being Jewish—have run into quite the ironic snag: as it stands now, certain Yankee Stadium lounges have been rented out on the night in question … to a bar mitzvah party. Even more problematically, part of that deal involves use of the center field Jumbotron (to display baby pictures and other bar mitvah-y stuff).
If the bar mitzvah conflict can’t be resolved, the fight will likely move to Madison Square Garden on the night of June 12th. That, however, is also the night before Puerto Rican Day, which we fear would lend Cotto an advantage in adrenaline and crowd support. Other than that, it looks to be a good fight: Cotto is likely one of the world’s top pound-for-pound fighters but is also a little less heavy than Foreman, who has more experience fighting at the 154-pound class also favored by great Jewish boxer Barney Ross.
Either way, though, boxing aficionados should plan for a late night: the main event will not be scheduled to begin before 11:30 P.M., so that Foreman is fully able to observe Shabbat.
Foreman-Cotto Either June 5 or June 12 [AP/ESPN]
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.