Lace them up: Boxing set for June 9 return in Las Vegas

May 22, 2020
In this February 22, 2020 file photo, Tyson Fury, of England, lands a right to Deontay Wilder (left) during a WBC heavyweight championship boxing match in Las Vegas. Boxing promoter Bob Arum says he plans to stage a card of five fights on June 9 at the MGM Grand.
In this February 22, 2020 file photo, Tyson Fury, of England, lands a right to Deontay Wilder (left) during a WBC heavyweight championship boxing match in Las Vegas. Boxing promoter Bob Arum says he plans to stage a card of five fights on June 9 at the MGM Grand.

LAS VEGAS (AP):

Add boxing to the list of sports on the comeback trail.

Promoter Bob Arum said yesterday he plans to stage a card of five fights on June 9 at the MGM Grand, the first of a series of fights over the next two months at the Las Vegas hotel. A second fight card will be held two nights later, with ESPN televising both cards, kicking off twice- weekly shows at the hotel in June and July.

No fans will be allowed, and Arum said fighters and everyone else will be tested at least twice during fight week for the new coronavirus. 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," Arum told The Associated Press. "The key was getting enough testing, and we've got plenty of testing in Nevada to hold our events."

Who Will Fight?

Arum declined to say who would be fighting on June 9, saying ESPN wanted to make the announcement after the fights are approved. But he said the cards would feature the same quality of fighters who were on ESPN before the shutdown of sports around the world.

"These will be the same guys we were going to have before to the extent possible," he said. "Guys like (Olympic medallist) 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 Patrick's Day, but Arum said Conlan won't be on the upcoming cards because he's 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.

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