Vince McMahon and the WWE have appeared to set a trend of Florida being the premier spot for fights to take place. Not one to waste a business opportunity, Bob Arum could be looking at boxing’s safe haven.
Top Rank’s founder and CEO spoke with ESPN about potentially hosting events in The Sunshine State this summer. This comes after WWE was deemed an “essential business” in Florida, per Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings. Initially, WWE was not a part of the essential business section under the shelter-in-place ruling in Florida due to the coronavirus. The company was then marked under the following guidelines, according to a release of the order:
“Employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience — including any athletes, entertainers, production team, executive team, media team and any others necessary to facilitate including services supporting such production — only if the location is closed to the general public.”
WWE currently holds events in its Performance Center in Orlando. Arum had interest in using the facility if boxing was to return.
“It’s very, very interesting, and we’re going to be in touch with them. There’s a possibility to use their facility to maybe do events without a crowd,” Arum stated. “We’re very close with Vince [McMahon] and the WWE. So let’s see, but we’re still not talking before June.”
With McMahon hosting live events weekly, it opened the door for other sports entities to bring business to Florida. UFC President Dana White, who has been working on a “Fight Island“, may be able to have a fight night in the area. This is after attempting to host UFC 249 on tribal land in California. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has expressed interest in sports with no crowds in the state, like NASCAR and golf.
As a result of the coronavirus, Top Rank has had to postpone a number of events. If they don’t head to Florida, it is unknown when the next fight for them will be. Arum is keeping track of the coronavirus, which has over 2,000,000 cases and 138,487 deaths globally, and will make a decision on whether promoting events is OK. If anything, he will have to make the necessary precautions that involves no fans and an extreme amount of testing.
“But it all depends, the whole reopening of the country, the different states, it all comes down to the same thing — testing, adequate testing,” Arum went on to say. “You cannot open it and have athletes compete against each other with referees, the judges, with camera people, unless you can ensure that it’s safe, and the only way you can ensure that it’s safe is with testing. It comes down to testing.”
While he can’t see into the future, Arum predicts fans will be allowed in arena’s in certain states by the end of 2020. If that is the case, it will almost be business as usual. He will remain cautious, however, and see just how far boxing can go during this pandemic.