Boxing set for June 9 return in Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Add boxing to the checklist of sports activities on the comeback path.

Promoter Bob Arum mentioned Thursday he plans to stage a card of 5 fights on June 9 on the MGM Grand, the primary of a sequence of fights over the subsequent two months on the Las Vegas lodge. A second struggle card might be held two nights later, with ESPN televising each playing cards, kicking off twice weekly reveals on the lodge in June and July.

No followers might be allowed, and Arum mentioned fighters and everybody else might be examined at the least twice throughout struggle week for the brand new coronavirus. The fights are pending approval of the Nevada Athletic Commission, which meets subsequent week to think about the occasions, together with two playing cards that the UFC plans to stage at its facility in Las Vegas.

They are additionally pending the reopening of the MGM and different Las Vegas lodges, one thing that’s broadly anticipated to occur the primary week of June, although no dates for a second part of easing virus restrictions have been introduced by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak.

“Once we get those fights in and UFC gets its initial fights in, both of us will ask for additional dates,” Arum instructed The Associated Press. “The key was getting enough testing, and we’ve got plenty of testing in Nevada to hold our events.”

In addition to Arum’s fights, British promoter Eddie Hearn mentioned this week he plans to carry fights starting someday in July from the yard backyard of the household mansion outdoors London the place he was raised. Hearn instructed The Athletic that the primary struggle card is tentatively set for July 15.

Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya has additionally talked about returning with a July four card, although he has supplied no particulars. UFC returned to motion earlier this month with playing cards in Florida, together with a pay-per-view occasion, that happened with out followers.

Arum declined to say who can be preventing on June 9, saying ESPN wished to make the announcement after the fights are accepted. But he mentioned the playing cards would characteristic the identical high quality of fighters who have been on ESPN earlier than the shutdown of sports activities all over the world.

The playing cards can be expanded to three-hour reveals, Arum mentioned, and have a principal occasion, a co-main and three supporting fights.

“These will be the same guys we were going to have before to the extent possible,” he mentioned. “Guys like (Olympic medalist) Shakur Stevenson and others who would have been fighting on our cards.”

Stevenson was set to headline a Top Rank card in March at Madison Square Garden when it was known as off on the final minute due to the pandemic. Another Top Rank fighter, Ireland’s Michael Conlan, was to struggle in New York on St. Patrick’s Day, however Arum mentioned Conlan received’t be on the upcoming playing cards as a result of he’s unable to journey from Ireland.

Arum mentioned fighters and cornermen might be examined after they arrive in Las Vegas the week of the struggle and might be housed on a “bubble” flooring on the MGM Grand. They might be allowed out solely to eat at an accepted restaurant within the lodge or to coach on the Top Rank fitness center.

Fighters will even be examined the night time earlier than they struggle. The double checks ought to remove the problem the UFC had when a fighter examined optimistic and was faraway from the UFC 249 card, Arum mentioned.

“Our protocols will be much more stringent than UFC had in Florida,” Arum mentioned. “In ours you wouldn’t have a fighter testing positive the day of the fight or the day before.”

Arum credited Jim Murren, the previous MGM CEO who leads a state activity pressure coping with the virus, with ensuring there are sufficient checks out there for fighters, judges, commissioners and anybody else concerned on web site. He mentioned 60-70 individuals could also be examined on struggle day alone, utilizing checks that can provide ends in a pair hours.

While pre-pandemic fights have been held within the 16,000-seat MGM Grand Garden, Arum mentioned the fights might be held in a conference space or ballroom on the lodge. There might be no media allowed, at the least at first, he mentioned, due to the logistical issue of testing extra individuals.

Arum’s Top Rank has a long-term take care of ESPN for fights that earlier than the pandemic hit have been on the primary community and streaming service ESPN+. The community additionally mixed with Fox to televise the pay-per-view of the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder heavyweight title card in February that was Top Rank’s final card.

Arum mentioned he talked to Fury on Thursday and that plans are underway to carry the rematch — in all probability someplace outdoors the U.S. — late this yr. He mentioned there are additionally nonetheless plans for a extremely anticipated light-weight title unification struggle between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez by the tip of the yr.


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