Fightful Boxing Newsletter (5/1/2020) Table Of Contents:
- Boxing Slowly Returning/Results From Nicaragua (Pages 1-2)
- Fantasy Matchmaking Boxing Cards (Page 3)
- News And Notes From Around The World Of Boxing (Page 4)
- Fightful Boxing Rankings (Pages 5-6)
Boxing Slowly Returning/Results From Nicaragua:
A boxing card in Nicaragua on a random Saturday in April usually doesn’t attract attention only except from the most devout pundits, it might have provided promoters across the world a potential blueprint on how to run boxing shows.
Nicaragua, which at the time of the show on April 25 had less than a dozen confirmed cases of COVID-19, has not put on major restrictions when it comes to large gatherings and sporting events.
However, the interesting part of the show, headlined by a rematch between Robin Zamora and Ramiro Blanco, was how it handled the safety measures. Fans in attendance were seated six feet part from each other, all who enter the building had their temperatures taken (with the fighters undergoing a battery of tests the day of the fight and at the weigh-ins, though it was never specified that those tests included COVID-19 testing), the venue was washed down with power hoses and nearly everyone, including the referee, wore face masks.
The setting, the seating arrangement and the measures taken to make sure people are tested (even if minimally), does provide a potential idea as to what boxing in the United States could look like once fans are allowed to re-enter the building.
It’s now a near guarantee that boxing, in some form, will return in the United States within three months barring any unfortunate and sudden spikes in COVID-19 testing. It’s probable that the first wave of boxing shows will be done without any fans in attendance, how WWE and UFC are running shows for the foreseeable future. Florida has already given WWE and UFC, and by extension any boxing entity with a national audience, the green light to run events closed to the public.
Top Rank is already making plans to hold events this summer. Initially, Florida was the frontrunner to host those events, but Top Rank CEO Bob Arum told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani that the hope is that the Nevada or California commissions allow him to do events there instead.
Nevada makes the most sense because Top Rank is situated there and has a gym for fighters to train with travel being a smaller risk compared to having to go to Florida.
Regardless of where it could be, boxing is likely to be back in a couple of months, which is slightly ahead of initial predictions.
Weeks ago, I had thought that boxing could be coming back to the United States by August at the earliest. Given the recent developments, the state of Florida opening the door to a possible boxing show in the state and with more states slowly re-opening, it’s not impossible to imagine Top Rank making a serious push to get some type of event later this summer.
However, there are a couple of things to take note that will impact when boxing returns: First and foremost is what the numbers of confirmed cases and deaths resulting from COVID-19 look like in the coming weeks. If the numbers start to go down, more and more states will look to slowly re-open.
Secondly is how UFC and ESPN handles its upcoming shows in May. If the fighters on those cards don’t end up falling ill in the weeks following their respective fights, then ESPN will be much more inclined to allow Top Rank to do the same. More importantly, commissions could be talked into allowing boxing to run empty arena shows in the coming weeks.
But all of that goes out the window if something goes awry at the UFC shows or if COVID-19 cases see an increase within the next eight weeks.
However, anybody expecting major names to be fighting in those empty arena events will more than likely be disappointed. Names like Tyson Fury, who was going to fight Deontay Wilder a third time later this year, isn’t going to be fighting given how much money in live gate Top Rank would be missing out by not allowing fans to enter the arena.
As far as the United Kingdom is concerned, the British Boxing Board of Control has gone out and said it hopes to bring back pro boxing starting in July, which already puts several UK shows in doubt. Not to mention, BBBofC added that it is unlikely that the first run of boxing cards in the UK will have any fans in attendance.
Matchroom Boxing has a card on June 27, headlined by Lewis Ritson vs. Miguel Vazequez, on July 4, headlined by Dillian Whyte vs. Alexander Povetkin, and a card on July 11, headlined by Lee Selby vs. George Kambosos Jr. in an IBF lightweight title eliminator. Queensberry Promotions has a card on July 4, which is going to be headlined by Joe Joyce vs. Daniel Dubois.
It’s hard to justify going through any of these cards with no fans, but for the sake of simply bringing back live boxing, Matchroom and Queensberry might be more than willing to take a loss by running these shows without fans.
But there’s also a major question in regards to some of the big fights on these shows, primarily the Matchroom Boxing show on July 4. Presumably, Povetkin lives in Russia while Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano, who are scheduled to fight in the co-main event, are in Ireland and in the United States, respectively, so travel might be very difficult for those fights.
Poland is already making moves to return to the sport with a genuinely bizarre fight being a pay-per-view main event: Mariusz Wach vs. 40-year-old Kevin Johnson on July 12.
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