On Saturday U.S. President Donald Trump held an unprecedented phone conference call with all of the leaders of the country’s major professional sports leagues to update them and get feedback on the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
And according to sources close to several of them that were on the call, he gave encouragement that sports may be able to resume, at least partially and perhaps with no fans, later this summer and or fall.
What this means for boxing resuming in America still remains to be seen? More on that in a moment.
NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman were all part of the conference call that also included commissioners from the PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour, Major League Soccer, UFC, NASCAR and World Wrestling Entertainment among others.
ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Saturday that Trump said on the call that he is encouraged that the NFL season will be able to begin on schedule in September:
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 4, 2020
So far, the National Football League is the only of the major pro sports in the U.S. that has not had a its season affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The NFL season concluded with its Super Bowl back on the first Sunday in February in Miami and is now in its off-season until late July.
For the NBA and the NHL, they were coming to the conclusion of their respective regular seasons, when all of sports ground to a halt on March 12th. It is believed that both sports leagues still want to try to play at least a partial version of their postseasons. That’s even, if they have to wait until June or July, and perhaps have no fans in attendance, for resuming to happen.
Sources close to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver relayed that on the phone call with the President that he said that the NBA is willing to be the forerunner in resuming sports, even without fans if necessary, later this year.
Later Saturday afternoon President Trump at his daily White House briefing on the Coronavirus, he acknowledged the call with the sports leagues’ leaders. After he thanked them for participating and then said,
“We’ve got to get our country back open. They want to get back (to some normalcy). They need to get back. We all need to get back….No one in the country could have planned for this,” the President said.
Then, when questioned by a reporter about whether it’s realistic and safe for fans being back in arenas, and stadiums, etc., Trump replied,
“Absolutely, I want fans back in the arenas, whenever we’re ready, as soon as we can, obviously. And, the fans want to be back too. They want to see baseball, basketball, football and hockey….I can’t tell you a date, but I think it will be sooner rather than later.
Eventually, people are going to be able to occupy those seats in arenas next to each other.”
The Major League Baseball season has yet to begin and is obviously, is facing the very real possibility that its 162 game regular season will be greatly reduced, if and when they can begin playing later this summer. And, likewise, it may have to do so without fans in attendance.
Now, as for boxing resuming in the United States, the three major promotions: Top Rank Boxing, Premier Boxing Champions and Golden Boy Promotions have postponed all of their fight cards through May. And, appears only a matter of time before that extends to at least June.
However, if the NBA for example begins to play later this summer, it may start a positive momentum for other sports, including “The Sweet Science” to also resume, even in empty venues.
Obviously, as we have repeatedly written, arguably the two biggest fighters and fights that would want to have fans and likely, massive “live gate” revenue will involve four division world champ, Canelo Alvarez. And then, the third fight between WBC Heavyweight Champ Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.
Alvarez’s proposed fight for May 2nd against England’s Billy Joe Saunders for Las Vegas is postponed and may never happen, now. And, the latest Fury-Wilder bout was to have been July 18th, also in Vegas, but has already been re-scheduled for October 3rd due to COVID 19.
Now, we wait to see how soon the virus outbreak decreases to the point that it becomes much safer to hold events later this summer.