In an expected move, Top Rank Boxing has announced that due to ongoing concern over the coronavirus, it’s two upcoming fight cards in New York City will go on as scheduled, for now, but will do so without fans in attendance.
ESPN boxing insider, Dan Rafael, tweeted early Thursday afternoon that he had spoken with Top Rank promoter Bob Arum who confirmed the situation:
Top Rank chairman Bob Arum tells ESPN that the boxing cards he is promoting that are scheduled to take place at the Hulu Theater at Madison Sqaure Garden in New York on Friday night on ESPN (featherweight titlist Shakur Stevenson vs. Miguel Marriaga in… https://t.co/hMRUpjjtjF
— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) March 12, 2020
As we wrote earlier Thursday, WBO featherweight Champion Shakur Stevenson, is scheduled to defend against Miguel Marriaga at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night in a fight card to be televised by ESPN.
Meantime, on Tuesday night (St Patrick’s Day) Irish unbeaten featherweight contender Michael Conlan will be in action at that same Hulu Theater adjacent to Madison Square Garden’s main Arena in the Top Rank main event that will also be televised by ESPN. And, apparently that fight, for now, will go on as scheduled, but, also, without fans present.
It was expected that the Conlan fight in particular would be near capacity or sold out because of the strategic planning of having the fight on St. Patrick’s Day Night with a prominent Irish fighter and a huge Irish American fan base in New York. Conlan fought in the same setting last St. Patrick’s Day in NYC.
Meanwhile, we still await a decision on what Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) will do with their Saturday night fight card scheduled for the MGM National Harbor Arena in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Their main event fight is a middleweight non- title showdown between veterans Marcos Hernandez and James Kirkland.
It’s entirely possible that it will be he same situation, where the fight takes place without fans and with only non-essential personnel on FS1 cable televising Saturday.
After the Saturday night and Tuesday night cards, there is not a significant world title fight coming in the U.S./North America until Saturday night March 28th. That’s when unbeaten Unified Light Heavweight champ Artur Beterbiev will take on challenger, Meng Fanlong, in Quebec City, Canada. That is a Top Rank show and scheduled to be televised by ESPN.
And, obviously, it will be up to the Canadian government and health officials, as well as the promotion and the TV network, as to whether it gets held, postponed, or fought with no fans, etc.?
As always, stay tuned.
It all could change in a matter of minutes.