How Severely Will The Corona Virus Impact Boxing?
By: Sean Crose
It’s doubtful anyone can remember anything like it…at least in North America. Fears of, and precautions for, the Corona virus outbreak have now seeped into every aspect of society. Boxing has been no exception. Although the virus has yet to make a strong impact on the sport, its effects are being felt throughout the fight business. As of press time, this Saturday’s Top Rank card is still a go at Madison Square Garden. How full the arena will be, or if fans will even be able to attend live, remains a question. With the NBA having suspended its entire season, anything seems possible.
“As we speak,” Bad Left Hook quotes Top Rank honcho Bob Arum as saying, “there are no plans to cancel.” The long time promoter is clear that he’ll take his cues from the State of New York.
Saturday’s Premiere Boxing Champions’ card outside of Washington is still, as of press time, a go, both for the fighters involved, as well as for those who wish to attend the James Kirkland headlined event. Both the Top Rank and PBC cards are to be televised. The Top Rank card will be aired live on ESPN, while the PBC card will be broadcast live on Fox Sport’s 1.
Being a sport where events are held before large groups of people, boxing may well be in line for a series of cancellations, or postponements. Aside from the NBA, other major events have been cancelled or otherwise impacted by the Corona virus. The SXSW festival won’t be happening in 2020. The NCAA basketball tournament will be played in empty arenas.
Musicians from Madonna to Pear Jam to Mariah Carey have either postponed or canceled events entirely. At the moment, no fight cards of note have been altered.
Like much of society, boxing’s powers that be appear to be in a state of wait and see. With the threat of a mass outbreak looming, precautions obviously have to be taken. With so much money at stake with upcoming fight cards, however, no one wants to be quick to pull the plug on already scheduled events unless it’s absolutely necessary to. This is especially true of cards featuring high profile boxers such as Anthony Joshua, Oleksandr Usyk, Dillan Whyte, Sergey Kovalev and Canelo Alvarez (who many expect to face Billy Joe Saunders in early May).
Boxing Insider will keep readers updated as events unfold.