Top Rank will resume promoting boxing events in June
The return of boxing in the United States is imminent.
Top Rank CEO Bob Arum told ESPN on Wednesday that his company will begin hosting fight cards in June after being forced to cancel a plethora of cards since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are coming back in June,” Arum said. “These will be shows that will be on ESPN and ESPN+. They will take place during the week and on weekends.”
With restrictions on public gatherings still in effect throughout much of the U.S., fans are barred from attending until further notice.
While major fights will likely be off the table until at least the fall of this year, Arum assured that the bouts would feature marquee talents.
“They’ll all be top fighters, really top fights,” Arum said. “Will there be a [Tyson] Fury-[Deontay] Wilder? No. But they’ll be some of our top fighters, like Jose Ramirez, he’ll be in the mix, various others, Teofimo [Lopez], Shakur [Stevenson], all of them. In other words, the fights will be similar as the fights we’ve been putting on ESPN and ESPN+.”
While a specific date has not been made official, Top Rank is planning to host their first couple of return bouts in Nevada, where their headquarters is located.
“That’s what we’re planning because it makes it easier for us. Our gym can be used for training,” Arum said. “We have hotels that we [can] be opening up, and there won’t be, initially, a big market of customers for rooms. They will have plenty of rooms available. These hotels have big ballrooms, which we could use to stage an event, and these ballrooms we could take for a two-month period, June and July, to put on events, maybe with an option to take them in August or September.”
While Nevada is their first preference, Arum is also open to putting on fights in California.
“That doesn’t mean that we might not do some fights in California, which has a good commission. Andy [Foster, executive director of the California State Athletic Commission] is a terrific guy to work with. And I know somebody like Jose [Ramirez] prefers to do his fight in California, even without an audience.”
Ramirez, (25-0, 17 knockouts), 27, of Avenal, California, who holds the WBC and WBO junior welterweight titles, has twice had his mandatory defense against Viktor Postol postponed due to the coronavirus. The first event was slated for Feb. 1 in China, while the second was set for May 9 in Fresno, California.
Top Rank has not hosted an event since Feb. 22 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, when they co-promoted the heavyweight world title rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, which saw the Englishman defeat the American in seven one-sided rounds. The much-anticipated sequel also broke the record for a heavyweight boxing gate in Nevada, surpassing the previous record set by the rematch between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield in 1999 at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Arum is confident that the sport of boxing and the country can get back on its feet.
“Everybody is working together. We’re going to do this,” Arum said. “We got word that Nevada will have a major testing facility at one of the hospitals in Las Vegas, which can handle many thousands of tests a day. So we’re working through everything. It’s not something that we’re experts in. We have to rely on the medical experts and so forth.
“But just now, we’re working closely, certainly in Nevada, with the commission and the medical experts, with the hotels, and we’ll be doing the same in California.”