After the UFC was able to hold an event in Florida without a crowd, it looks like boxing will be back sooner than we think to follow the promotion’s lead.
According to Mike Coppinger of The Athletic, June 9 is the planned date for boxing to make its return, with Las Vegas the location. Inside an MGM property, Shakur Stevenson will be putting his WBO Featherweight Title on the line against Rafael Rivera. The event will be on a Tuesday instead of a normal weekend.
Top Rank’s Bob Arum has been working on having boxing return by June and even mentioned Stevenson as one of the key figures to welcome the sport back. He also mentioned that four or five fights would be on a card and that fans will not be inside whichever building they choose to use. The Athletic elaborates that Top Rank will be paying for coronavirus testing and will adhere to whatever the Nevada commission has in mind.
“We won’t do crazy staredowns at weigh-ins,” Arum stated. “ … I’m not going to be shaking anyone’s hands. Everyone participating will be coronavirus free. I’ll wear a mask. I don’t know if judges will wear a mask, maybe they will, maybe they won’t. Announcers will be six feet from ringside. And we’re going to be good citizens.”
Stevenson (13-0) last fought in October, beating Joet Gonzalez via unanimous decision. He was originally set to face off against Miguel Marriaga inside Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater on March 14. The card, as well as Michael Conlan’s St. Patrick’s Day fight, were both postponed.
Rivera (27-4-2) is 2-2 in his last four fights. His last bout was a loss to Jessie Magdaleno back in August. Several fighters will not be able to make it to Top Rank’s events due to travel restrictions.
Top Rank will have to confer with the Nevada Athletic Commission, who have currently barred combat sports from taking place. With states minimizing shutdown rules, Nevada could end up resuming activity, in a safe manner, in just a matter of time.
More bouts are scheduled to be announced within the next few weeks. How do you feel about boxing’s return?