Boxing in the United States set for June Las Vegas return, says Bob Arum
Top Rank promoter planning twice-weekly shows at the MGM Grand
Last Updated: 21/05/20 8:36pm
Bob Arum plans to stage a card of five fights on June 9 at the MGM Grand, the first of a series of bouts over the next two months at the Las Vegas hotel.
A second fight card will be held two nights later, kicking off twice-weekly shows at the hotel in June and July.
The promoter says no fans will be allowed and fighters - and everyone else - will be tested at least twice during fight week for Covid-19.
The fights are pending approval of the Nevada Athletic Commission, which meets next week to consider the events, along with two cards that the UFC plans to stage at its facility in Las Vegas.
They are also pending the reopening of the MGM and other Las Vegas hotels, something that is widely expected to happen the first week of June, though no dates for a second phase of easing virus restrictions have been announced by Nevada governor Steve Sisolak.
"Once we get those fights in and UFC gets its initial fights in, both of us will ask for additional dates," said Arum.
"The key was getting enough testing, and we've got plenty of testing in Nevada to hold our events."
The British Boxing Board of Control is 'hopeful' the sport will return in July, but the governing body has warned that restrictions could be enforced in this country.
Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya has also talked about returning with a July 4 card, though he has offered no details.
UFC returned to action earlier this month with cards in Florida, including a pay-per-view event, that took place without fans.
Arum declined to say who would be fighting on June 9 but said the cards would be expanded to three-hour shows, Arum said, and feature a main event, a co-main and three supporting fights.
"These will be the same guys we were going to have before to the extent possible," he said.
"Guys like (Olympic medalist) Shakur Stevenson and others who would have been fighting on our cards."
Stevenson was set to headline a Top Rank card in March at Madison Square Garden when it was called off at the last minute because of the pandemic.
Another Top Rank fighter, Ireland's Michael Conlan, was to fight in New York on St Patricks Day, but Arum said Conlan will not be on the upcoming cards because he is unable to travel from Ireland.
Arum said fighters and cornermen will be tested when they arrive in Las Vegas the week of the fight and will be housed on a bubble floor at the MGM Grand. They will be allowed out only to eat at an approved restaurant in the hotel or to train at the Top Rank gym.
Fighters will also be tested the night before they fight. The double tests should eliminate the issue the UFC had when a fighter tested positive and was removed from the UFC 249 card, Arum said.
"Our protocols will be much more stringent than UFC had in Florida," said Arum. "In ours you wouldn't have a fighter testing positive the day of the fight or the day before."
Arum credited Jim Murren, the former MGM CEO who leads a state task force dealing with the virus, with making sure there are enough tests available for fighters, judges, commissioners and anyone else involved on site. He said 60-70 people may be tested on fight day alone, using tests that can give results in a couple of hours.
While pre-pandemic fights were held in the 16,000-seat MGM Grand Garden, Arum said the fights will be held in a convention area or ballroom at the hotel.
There will be no media allowed, at least at the beginning, he said, because of the logistical difficulty of testing more people.