Arum and Top Rank plan return, likely without an audience
Bob Arum, Credit: Getty Images/Ethan Miller
Bob Arum and his promotional company Top Rank are preparing to restart competitions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Next month, Top Rank Boxing is returning to the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. They plan to hold 10 fights split into two five-fight cards, one on June 9 and the other on June 11. The two events will be shown live on ESPN.
Although most hotels in Las Vegas are currently closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are expected to open in the week preceding the scheduled fights, with Casinos expected to open Jun. 4 according to Gov. Steve Sisolak. Bob Arum, founder of Top Rank, announced on Thursday that they plan to hst more events in Nevada as a result of this relaxation in rules.
“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.”
Arum didn’t specify who would be participating in the two upcoming fight cards, but the current entertainment drought has left fans starving for content will likely tune in regardless of the competitors. Arum does, however, assure fans that these cards will be of the highest caliber possible.
“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,” said Arum.
He spoke of certain fights that won’t be able to be held as a result of travel restrictions.
“They will not be the big, big fights, like the [Vasiliy] Lomachenko-[Teofimo] Lopez fight for the reason that Lomachenko is still stuck in the Ukraine and we don’t know when we’re going to get him over here to the United States. But we’re working on all of that. I think we’ll be able to, as this progresses -- I know that Frank [Warren] and Eddie [Hearn] will be using the Brits that are under contract to us, like Josh Taylor, [Carl] Frampton, Mick Conlan, putting them on cards, also probably without audiences.”
Arum has said that despite this restart of fights, they will most likely be unable to hold their biggest planned contests.
“Well, for now we know for sure we won’t be doing the super big fights,” Arum said. “There’s no way you can do a (Deontay) Wilder-(Tyson) Fury heavyweight championship fight without an audience. We’re working diligently with the PBC (Premier Boxing Champions and its creator, Al Haymon) to get a spot where we can do that Pay-Per-View fight and possibly stage it out of the country.”
Top Rank’s most recent event was held on Feb. 22, also at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. That fight was the rematch between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, who won in the seventh round.
Other promotional companies were aiming to restart fights in the coming months with Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport and Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy, both shooting for a start in July.
Written by: Patryk Stepien