By: Hans Themistode
Much like every other sport, boxing has come to a complete stop due to the Coronavirus. But promoter Bob Arum is trying to play his part to get it going once again.
When news broke of the Coronavirus or otherwise known as Covid-19, putting an end to roughly every sport around the world, fans could hardly believe it. Arum, like many other promoters, was forced to put several of his shows on ice.
WBO Featherweight champion Shakur Stevenson and Featherweight contender Michael Conlan were set to headline their own cards on the 14th and 17th of March, in Madison Square Garden, in New York City. But not anymore. With two of Arums shows already sidelined, the 88 year old promoter is looking into unique ways to salvage the few remaining cards he already has booked on the boxing schedule.
“We’re gonna try to set up a studio atmosphere in Vegas, so we can do fights maybe,” Arum said during Friday’s episode of “The Ak & Barak Show” on SiriusXM. “You know, ESPN, unfortunately for them, doesn’t have content. They don’t have the NBA, they don’t have college basketball, they don’t have the women’s tournament. So, they’re gonna need content. And we can provide content. We’ve talked to the athletic commission here [in Nevada], doing fights in a studio. But we’ve got to get the testing done. We’ve gotta get enough tests here, so that we can test the fighters before the fights, so we can show that they do not have the virus. Or, if they have the virus, they can’t fight. I mean, that’s what we’re working on.”
The first of Arums shows that would be heading towards a studio like setting would be his March 28th, event which was set to take place at Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Canada. Headlining that card would be unified Light Heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) and IBF mandatory challenger Meng Fanlong (16-0, 10 KOs).
Next up of the Top Rank schedule is an April 25th, showdown between pound for pound star and unified Bantamweight champ Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs) and WBO title holder John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20 KOs). One week later, unified Lightweight champ Josh Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs) was set to make his Top Rank debut against Apinun Khongsong (16-0, 13 KOs).
With both events most likely to be postponed, Arum is hoping he can still put on shows while this pandemic is currently being sorted out.
Most recently, the UFC kept their event alive by banning fans from entering the arena. Boxing could be following in those same footsteps. It may not be ideal or fun for the fighters involved but at this point, it’s better than nothing.