By Michael Bennett
Boxing is ready to return to action in Las Vegas next month.
Top Rank will host two five-fight cards on June 9th and June 11th, televised live on ESPN from the MGM Grand hotel.
Hotels in the city are not re-opened yet, but the Associated Press notes that most expect that to happen in the first week of June, ahead of the fight cards’ scheduled dates.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum announced the fight cards, saying that this is the first step towards crafting more events in Las Vegas, pending government approval:
“Once we get those fights in and UFC gets its initial fights in, both of us will ask for additional dates. The key was getting enough testing, and we’ve got plenty of testing in Nevada to hold our events.”
Arum declined to release information on what the fights themselves will actually be, but boxing enthusiasts starving for content will likely soak them all in regardless of who is on the cards themselves. What he did assure the Associated Press is that the fighters involved in these first cards will be of the same caliber as they would have been before the pandemic:
“These will be the same guys we were going to have before to the extent possible. Guys like (Olympic medalist) Shakur Stevenson and others who would have been fighting on our cards.”
The promoter also outlined basic details of how the fighters would be kept safe from the coronavirus: they would be tested upon arriving in Las Vegas, before quarantining in a “bubble floor” at the MGM Grand hotel, only being allowed to leave to eat at specific restaurants and for boxing training. And, as is going to be the norm for all events held during the pandemic, there will be no fans in attendance at the fights.
Other promoters have also spoken about restarting fights in recent weeks, with British promoter Eddie Hearn shooting for a July restart, while Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy had previously mentioned July 4th as a potential date for hosting fights.