Top Rank boss Bob Arum has opened up about his plan for the return of boxing in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Arum will host his first show at the MGM Grand today when WBO featherweight champion Shakur Stevenson faces Felix Caraballo in a non-title 10-rounder at 130-pounds.
There will be no live audience and strict coronavirus testing protocols are in place.
“This is a momentous occasion,” said Arum. “Boxing is back after a three-month lapse. I’m really proud that Top Rank is the first promoter out of the box. We have a great fight on a great show on June 9, then we continue on with virtually two and three boxing events a week. Boxing is going to come back — believe me — bigger and more important than ever.
“And in this two-month period in June or July, where it looks like there won’t be any NBA, any Major League Baseball, the spotlight will be on the sport of boxing, and with bouts that we’ve lined up, I believe that the public will once again be enthused about the competitive level in the sport.”
Arum praised his team for their hard work and perseverance in trying circumstances to bring boxing back.
“This is not an easy job. It seems like it’s easy but my people, [Top Rank COO] Brad Jacobs and [Top Rank president] Todd duBoef, they have all really been working for months on this getting the protocols in shape, the testing, working with the Nevada Commission and its medical staff,” Arum said.
“I mean, this is something that nobody — at least on our end — had any experience with. So, it’s really been a work in progress, and it continues to be a work in progress.
“Imagine guys come into Vegas to get into ‘the bubble,’ which is a special floor at the MGM. They got to be tested there in the bubble, they’ve got to be escorted to a place to shake out and train, a place to eat. We have a special dining room set up in the convention center. All of this is something that none of us are used to.
“Now, we are not starting out with title fights, but we’re going to have them before long, by the third week, start doing some world title fights because there are other issues with the organizations, which we’re working out.
“So, it’s one step at a time. It’s not easy and it’s not inexpensive. For example, testing — just the testing — for coronavirus for each event will cost us in excess of $25,000. Just the testing. Plus, the rooms, the special security, the meals in the convention area.
“This is a very, very large undertaking, but obviously, it has to be done. We’ve got to get boxing started up. We’re going to probably be doing this perhaps for three months, for June, July, definitely, and then in August.
“And hopefully, by September, we’re going to start getting back to doing events with spectators with a limited capacity. That’s the second phase that we’re working on.
“And the third phase, hopefully, by the end of the year, we’ll be doing events with virtually full capacity. But that’s down the line. So, I mean, this is a really big responsibility on our part to start this up, start it up on the right foot.
“Our protocols, which we’ve been working on for months, are available to all promoters all over the world. There’s no competition here. We want to get everybody to do the right things necessary to get started in boxing as big as possible.”
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