For the last several weeks during the shutdown of boxing for Covid-19, the educated speculation is that the sport would begin to resume in June and now Top Rank Boxing promoter Bob Arum is beginning to get more specific about fighters and where they might fight next month.
Arum spoke with ESPN’s Steve Kim Tuesday night and began to give a little more detail on what the current plan is for his organization to resume fight cards:
— Steve Kim (@StevESPNKim) May 7, 2020
“We are coming back in June. These will be shows that will be on ESPN and ESPN+. They will take place during the week and on weekends.”
“They’ll all be top fighters, really top fights,” Arum continued. “Will there be a [Tyson] Fury-[Deontay] Wilder? No. But they’ll be some of our top fighters, like Jose Ramirez, he’ll be in the mix, various others, Teofimo [Lopez], Shakur [Stevenson], all of them. In other words, the fights will be similar as the fights we’ve been putting on ESPN and ESPN+.”
Arum also reiterated that there will likely be no fans in attendance for any of the fights in the foreseeable future.
However, he did mention unified Junior Welterweight Champion, Jose Luis Ramirez, WBO Featherweight Champion, Shakur Stevenson and IBF Lightweight champion, Teofimo Lopez, as fighters who might possibly be fighting as soon as this summer.
Stevenson was to have fought on an ESPN televised Top Rank show at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater on March 14th, but that was the week that sports of all kind shut down amidst the Covid-19 scare.
Further, as ESPN points out, Top Rank Boxing is based in Las Vegas. And, it is believed that is where they would want to have their “studio shows,” without fans, at least initially. Arum’s long-standing relationship with the Nevada Athletic Commission, familiarity with hotels for the fighters, staff and ESPN production, etc, plus, familiarity for possible need for medical staff and hospitalization would all be key to restarting.
There has also been mention that Top Rank Boxing might be interested in holding June fights in Florida and possibly at the World Wrestling Entertainment Performance Center in Orlando. WWE owner Vince McMahon has been holding wrestling shows for television in the facility without fans present for the last five weeks.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had previously deemed McMahon and the WWE as “essential” and allowed them to continue to hold the matches and produce the TV shows.
Also, starting this weekend, Dana White and the Ultimate Fighting Championship will resume it’s fight cards, in Jacksonville, FL, and without fans with a Saturday night PPV of fights.
As Arum referenced above, the biggest fight that Top Rank has on the horizon for 2020 is currently delayed. That’s the postponed third battle between the newly-crowned WBC heavyweight champion, Fury and former champion, Wilder.
Fury defeated Wilder in February by 7th round TKO handing “The Bronze Bomber” his first pro loss in Las Vegas to capture the title. Wilder subsequently exercised a rematch clause for their third fight to be held in July. However, after the Coronavirus pandemic the fight has now been delayed until at least October.
And, Arum has clearly said, over and over again, the inclination is to have fans present, even partially, at a Fury-Wilder III.
And that may necessitate that the fight is held somewhere besides Las Vegas, like originally scheduled and maybe, even in another country if necessary.