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 resort. A second battle card can be held two nights later, with ESPN televising each playing cards, kicking off twice weekly exhibits on the resort in June and July.
No followers can be allowed, and Arum mentioned fighters and everybody else can be examined at the least twice throughout battle week for the brand new coronavirus. The fights are pending approval of the Nevada Athletic Fee, which meets subsequent week to contemplate the occasions, together with two playing cards that the UFC plans to stage at its facility in Las Vegas.
They’re additionally pending the reopening of the MGM and different Las Vegas lodges, one thing that’s extensively anticipated to occur the primary week of June, although no dates for a second section of easing virus restrictions have been introduced by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak.
“As soon as we get these fights in and UFC will get its preliminary fights in, each of us will ask for extra dates,” Arum advised The Related Press. “The important thing was getting sufficient testing, and we’ve acquired loads of testing in Nevada to carry our occasions.”
Along with 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 exterior London the place he was raised. Hearn advised The Athletic that the primary battle 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 occurred with out followers.
Arum declined to say who could be preventing on June 9, saying ESPN needed to make the announcement after the fights are accepted. However he mentioned the playing cards would function the identical high quality of fighters who had been on ESPN earlier than the shutdown of sports activities around the globe.
The playing cards could be expanded to three-hour exhibits, Arum mentioned, and have a fundamental occasion, a co-main and three supporting fights.
“These would be the similar guys we had been going to have earlier than to the extent doable,” he mentioned. “Guys like (Olympic medalist) Shakur Stevenson and others who would have been preventing on our playing cards.”
Stevenson was set to headline a High Rank card in March at Madison Sq. Backyard when it was referred to as off on the final minute due to the pandemic. One other High Rank fighter, Eire’s Michael Conlan, was to battle in New York on St. Patrick’s Day, however Arum mentioned Conlan gained’t be on the upcoming playing cards as a result of he’s unable to journey from Eire.
Arum mentioned fighters and cornermen can be examined after they arrive in Las Vegas the week of the battle and can be housed on a “bubble” flooring on the MGM Grand. They are going to be allowed out solely to eat at an accepted restaurant within the resort or to coach on the High Rank fitness center.
Fighters may even be examined the night time earlier than they battle. The double assessments ought to remove the difficulty the UFC had when a fighter examined optimistic and was faraway from the UFC 249 card, Arum mentioned.
“Our protocols can be far more stringent than UFC had in Florida,” Arum mentioned. “In ours you wouldn’t have a fighter testing optimistic the day of the battle or the day earlier than.”
Arum credited Jim Murren, the previous MGM CEO who leads a state process power coping with the virus, with ensuring there are sufficient assessments accessible for fighters, judges, commissioners and anybody else concerned on website. He mentioned 60-70 individuals could also be examined on battle day alone, utilizing assessments that may give ends in a pair hours.
Whereas pre-pandemic fights had been held within the 16,000-seat MGM Grand Backyard, Arum mentioned the fights can be held in a conference space or ballroom on the resort. There can be no media allowed, at the least initially, he mentioned, due to the logistical issue of testing extra individuals.
Arum’s High Rank has a long-term cope with ESPN for fights that earlier than the pandemic hit had been on the principle 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 High Rank’s final card.
Arum mentioned he talked to Fury on Thursday and that plans are underway to carry the rematch — most likely someplace exterior the U.S. — late this 12 months. He mentioned there are additionally nonetheless plans for a extremely anticipated light-weight title unification battle between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez by the tip of the 12 months.
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