Coronavirus: Shakur Stevenson and Michael Conlan's fights forced behind closed doors

Michael Conlan
Image: Michael Conlan's fight will be behind closed doors

Shakur Stevenson and Michael Conlan's fights this weekend will be the first major boxing matches held without spectators due to coronavirus.

Each of the events that they will headline, on Saturday and Tuesday respectively, are at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Top Rank, promoting both events, have confirmed they will go ahead but without spectators "to ensure the health and safety of boxing fans and the fight participants".

Stevenson is defending his world featherweight championship against Miguel Marriaga on Saturday, before Belfast's Conlan fights Belmar Preciado on St Patrick's Day on Tuesday.

Shakur Stevenson
Image: Shakur Stevenson

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'Pressure on AJ to deliver a KO!'

Anthony Joshua's world heavyweight title defence against Kubrat Pulev on June 20 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, live on Sky Sports Box Office, will not become the latest sporting event to be held behind closed doors according to promoter Eddie Hearn.

"Boxing is unique in many ways, particularly in terms of the role that the fans play in making a fighter peak in a very important moment in their career," Hearn told Sky Sports earlier this week.

"I cannot see how we can stage a fight behind closed doors with no crowd. Can you imagine Anthony Joshua walking to fight Kubrat Pulev in front of you and me and Adam Smith? It's just not going to happen.

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"Could you imagine Derek Chisora fighting Oleksandr Usyk behind closed doors and laying him out with a punch from the gods and standing on the turn buckle to see no one? The crowd are so integral to the dramatic aspect of the sport of boxing, and in terms of being a TV product.

"For me, it's very difficult to do behind closed doors.

"This is a sport where it could really impact the livelihood of the athletes and talent. Everybody's hands are tied by government decisions that of course are there to act in the best interests of the country and the British public.

"What will be, will be. Right now, business as normal and we go ahead with an incredible schedule that we hope will go ahead in full."

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