As the coronavirus continues to affect the majority of the world, sports are taking a big hit. A number of boxing events have had to be postponed, with dates reaching June. However, the United States is looking to make a comeback, with events without fans looking to come to fruition. Top Rank’s Bob Arum is among those interested in going through with that.
Arum, 88, spoke with Crystina Poncher on Top Rank’s “Catching Up With Crystina” series. Some locations Arum is looking at are California, Nevada or Texas. He previously mentioned the UFC’s APEX Center or Florida, where WWE is hosting events in its Performance Center. The head of the promotion discussed plans for a safe way to host events and how to realistically get it done.
“How do you do it? Protecting the health and safety of the participants; either the fighters, the announcers, referee and judges, the athletic commission or the camera people? How do you protect them from being in the same room that there isn’t an inadvertent spread of the virus? The answer to that, which is I think the answer to a lot of the problems: testing,” Arum stated. “Testing and more testing so that nobody who was in that room on the night of the event has coronavirus.
“Secondly, how can you justify doing a fight where a fighter might be injured, you’d have to take them to the hospital and he would use a hospital bed that a coronavirus patient would otherwise use? The answer is you couldn’t… The third problem we have is ambulances. You have to have two ambulances at a fight, because if a fighter is injured… you have to have the second ambulance there if you want to continue the event.”
Due to a number of factors, Top Rank would most likely have to put on events two-three times a week with only four fights on a show. Logistically, the amount of time getting through events would have to force less exposure as previous shows have done. Arum is hoping to have events up and running by late June, July and August. If not, he is willing to play it safe.
As far as international fighters, the bread and butter of the promotion, Arum will have to find a way to work around that situation.
“We wouldn’t be able to stage Mick Conlan’s fight in our facility because of the travel ban,” Arum went on to say. “Hopefully, in the U.K. they will be up and running and we would do Mick’s fight in Belfast or Dublin or one of those places. (Artur) Beterbiev was scheduled to fight in May in Canada and he’s back in Russia. We wouldn’t look to bring him back here because of the travel restrictions. There’s a limit to what we can do, it’s not going to be easy, and everyone’s going to have to be patient.”
Some of the most lucrative fights Top Rank wants to put on involve the heavyweights. The rumored trilogy bout between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury is set to take place sometime in October. Will the fight actually be able to take place? It is all about the value of money.
Anthony Joshua is set to face Kubrat Pulev sometime this summer. Arum questions whether Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn would be willing to host events without people. Can they afford it and at what cost? That is how Arum looks at a potential Wilder-Fury fight.
“It’s one thing to take events that were done with 2,000-3,000 people and do them now without crowds,” Arum said. “It’s not nearly as egregious as doing a Tyson Fury-Wilder fight without fans. When the fans in the last fight put in almost $17 million into the coffers in purchase of tickets, how do you replace that $17 million? I mean, you don’t, you can’t.
“A Fury-Wilder fight might have to wait a couple more months until we can go back to full spectators. For a sport like boxing, when big events where the gate money is so much a big percentage of the revenue, I don’t see how you can do it without spectators.”