Fightful Boxing Newsletter (5/8/2020) Table Of Contents:
- Commissions, Promotions Working To Bring Back Boxing (Page 1)
- Anthony Joshua vs. Tyson Fury Talks Underway? Why It’s Likely Not Happening Next (Page 2)
- News And Notes From The World Of Boxing (Page 3)
- Fightful Boxing Rankings (Pages 4-5)
Commissions, Promotions Working To Bring Back Boxing:
Regardless of whether or not it is the appropriate time, the world, as well as the sport of boxing, is slowly making its way to return to normalcy, or at least what will be established as the new normal in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
April already saw the return of live boxing with fans in attendance when Nicaragua held a boxing show that was televised on ESPN Deportes in the United States. That card presented a potential blueprint in regards to boxing’s initial return with fans in attendance.
However, most of the world is still dealing with thousands of COVID-19 cases, something that Nicaragua isn’t dealing with and so the idea of staging events behind closed doors or in a studio setting remains the logical first step for boxing to return.
Initially, one could have predicted that boxing would be back by the end of the summer. But whether it is impatience, a need to deliver live sports for monetary reasons, an underestimation of the current situation, a combination of the three or more, steps are being made by various sanctioning bodies and entities to try and bring back boxing.
The WBC is recommending boxers and their teams should be based at an isolated venue for 14 days leading up to the fight, and has set out guidelines for remote judging.
Under the WBC's plans, there is one massive change to how fights are going to be scored that is being considered. judges will score fights by watching the fight live via TV from home, logging into a WBC portal and then scoring the fight after every round. The state or national boxing commission and supervisor will then finalize the scores at the venue. While this would be a way to limit the amount of people that will be present at ringside during events, the idea of having the main judges score a fight from home, could present itself some problems.
Unless you have someone keeping a watchful eye on these judges from home, it's impossible to truly tell if they are adequately paying attention to a fight on TV screen. Alternatively, watching fights from television certainly provides a better view of the action compared to looking up and being right next to the ring.
The issue here is that there is no precedent for this type of judging and could potentially backfire tremendously if you don't have the proper means to regulate and monitor the judges paying attention to the fights. In the best case scenario, these judges are able to completely shut down all manner of communication and distractions except for whomever these judges have to contact to report scores, allowing them to properly do their job. It's not totally unreasonable to expect that, but it's also hard to envision this causing no problems whatsoever.
The WBC is emailing promoters and boxing commissions around the world with its protocol for boxing cards behind closed doors, although the governing body has no authority to enforce the protocols it sets out.
"I've read the plan. I think there's some good information in the plan," Andy Foster, executive director of the California State Athletic Commission, told ESPN. "We're working with our doctors to have a viable option for promoters when the [California] government announces the Phase 3 part of the reopening. We're gonna continue to talk about this and continue to develop it."
Larry Hazzard, director of the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board, had similar thoughts when talking to ESPN about public health concerns dictating when and how to begin the process of returning to sports: "New Jersey, when we do resume our level of activity, we will be guided strictly by our medical staff, and we will go forth based upon the evidence that we get from our media advisory panel, regardless of what ideas some sanctioning bodies have -- and that includes the WBC."
The New York State Athletic Commission, meanwhile, said in the ESPN report that as the state "begins to develop a phased-in approach to reopen, the commission is continuing to monitor the situation and will work with our medical team to ensure we are in compliance with all rapidly evolving state guidelines to protect the health and safety of fighters, employees and the greater public."
The WBC also advises measures that include a questionnaire about the coronavirus for those involved in the event, an examination of medical records, daily monitoring and three coronavirus tests, with the final one at the weigh-in.
WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman told a news conference on Zoom: "This is a recommendation document for promoters. The idea would be a lockdown place [venue], not open to the public. The press conference and weigh-in would have no public. The fighters and their teams would need to go through a 14-day isolation with a daily monitoring of their temperatures. This is a proposed protocol for the boxing industry to use. We understand each country has different laws and states in the U.S. have different state laws. This is a general recommendation and it's not to do with WBC world boxing events, it's for boxing in general."
The British Boxing Board of Control’s most recent update on its plans are for events to start in July. Only essential officials would be allowed to enter the venue for the fights besides the fighters and their respective camps as well as any commission officials, judges and referees.
The BBBofC also made a list of people who should not attend events, which includes those 70 years or older, regardless of medical condition, those with chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, heart conditions, immunocompromised, those with chronic neurological conditions, people with diabetes and people who are seriously overweight.
Boxers, referees and trainers would be required to undergo COVID-19 testing 48 hours before the event. After the tests have been administered everyone would then be required to self-isolate in a hotel, the sole responsibility of handling would be placed solely on the promoter, to await testing results with the BBBofC needing to be informed of all test results at least 24 hours before the event. Those who tested positive would obviously not be allowed to take part in any fight week/day-related events. In addition, the BBBogC will arrange COVID-19 testing for BBBofC officials and the referee.
During the event itself, boxers, referees and trainers will be transported to the venue wearing personal protective masks and eye protection and only boxers are allowed to take them off once inside the ring. Referees and cornermen will continue to wear masks.
No championship fights will be considered at first, but the decision to sanction such fights are to be determined when the time comes. The BBBofC did, however, say that each event is to have at least five fights.
Matchroom has already started to quietly move some of its shows to a later date and is considering doing them in a studio setting/empty arena. Its planned July 4 event that would have been headlined by Dillian Whyte vs. Alexander Povetkin and co-headlined by Katie Taylor vs. Amanda Serrano is now being targeted for late July/early August.
Now as commissions and sanctioning bodies worldwide are starting to make plans to return, boxing promoters have already started making moves, especially in Florida. Christy Martin Promotions announced this week that there will be a card in Saint Augustine, Florida taking place on July 11 with no fans allowed in the arena. The card is set to feature the likes of unbeaten prospect Richard “Popeye The Sailor Man” Rivera and WBO Youth super bantamweight titleholder Frency Fortunato Saya.
Bob Arum of Top Rank, meanwhile, has been doing his best to secure events starting in June, primarily targeting Florida for empty arena shows given how UFC, WWE (and by extension AEW) have been given the green light to run televised events with no fans. Arum is looking to lock down a number of fights for these events, which would run during the week and on weekends, but don't expect the top stars on its roster to be fighting in this initial run of events.
"We are coming back in June," Arum told ESPN. "These will be shows that will be on ESPN and ESPN+. They will take place during the week and on weekends. They'll all be top fighters, really top fights. Will there be a [Tyson] Fury-[Deontay] Wilder? No. But they'll be some of our top fighters, like Jose Ramirez, he'll be in the mix, various others, Teofimo [Lopez], Shakur [Stevenson], all of them. In other words, the fights will be similar as the fights we've been putting on ESPN and ESPN+."
Arum did also note that Nevada is a strong possibility to host fights as well given that Nevada's main offices are in Nevada and it has a gym for fighters to train there. In addition, Arum said he doesn't expect his shows to bring back live crowds until the fourth quarter of this year, which means expect empty arena shows until at least through August.
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