We near the end of March with all of boxing still shut down due to the worldwide Coronavirus scare. And, the hope is that fights in the ring will be resuming sometime later this spring. However, British writer/ analyst David Payne believes the scheduled May and June prominent bouts involving English heavyweights won’t be happening.
Payne, also as, “The Boxing Writer,” appeared on the latest edition of our Big Fight Weekend podcast along with senior writer Marquis Johns of BigFightWeekend. com. I asked him directly to give an assessment from the U.K. on whether the Dillian Whyte – Alexander Povetkin, Oleksandr Usyk – Dereck Chisora (above) and Anthony Joshua – Kubrat Pulev bouts will go on as scheduled?
“I don’t wish to be the ‘Prophet of Doom,’ and not give people any optimism, but in all reality….I can’t see how that happens from where we are today.
We’re building emergency hospitals in exhibition centers. There’s no way we can then have a venue 10 miles down the road with 25,000 people in it. It’s just illogical. There’s just no way those fights are going to happen in the U.K.”
Payne’s pessimism is warranted, as Matchroom Boxing and the British Boxing Board of Control have already shut down all fights through the end of April. And of course, the Whyte scheduled fight with Povetkin is due to be Saturday night May 2nd in Manchester and could be postponed any day now.
The anticipated second heavyweight fight for May is the former unbeaten Cruiserweight Undisputed champion Usyk slated for three weeks later at London’s O2 Arena against the popular Chisora.
We wrote earlier this week about Chisora having a video chat that he posted on social media with Whyte, where they’re describing their situations of being in limbo for their training/fights.
Further off in the distance, is the scheduled June 20th Unified Heavyweight title fight between Champion Joshua and IBF, number one contender Pulev.
Pulev said late last week that he thinks the fight will have to be postponed, but there is still been nothing official from Joshua’s camp or Matchroom Boxing promoter, Eddie Hearn, who’s outfit will stage the fight, whenever it happens.
As Payne further relates on the podcast, the restart of the English Premier League (soccer) is also going to be a factor, as to whether Joshua and Pulev can keep that date at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London?
Traditionally, the Premier League is done playing it’s schedule by mid-May, and that was part of the strategy of scheduling the Joshua fight for the 65,000 seat venue in late June.
However, the Premier League still has approximately 20% of its games still to play, when it halted two weeks ago. And more than likely, they will have to have use of Tottenham’s Stadium in June meaning the Joshua – Pulev would have to have an alternate location, even if Hearn tries to keep the date.
Earlier this week, Top Rank boxing promoter Bob Arum stated that the upcoming WBC heavyweight title third fight between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder will be moved from July in Las Vegas to October. Boxing Insider, Mike Coppinger of the Athletic reported midweek that the date will be October 3rd of that reschedule.
Payne also said on the podcast that he believes it’s much more realistic that the Whyte, Usyk and Joshua fights will probably be September or October due to the Covid-19 outbreak in Europe.