Tyson Fury (right) of England, lands a right to Deontay Wilder during a WBC heavyweight championship boxing match in Las Vegas. File / AP
Boxing could be back on in Las Vegas in June, with the Nevada State Athletic Commission to consider bout applications at a May 27 meeting.
The meeting, which will be via telephone rather than in-person as coronavirus social distancing measures remain in place, will be the NSAC’s first since it shut down all combat sports in the state on March 14.
The meeting agenda lists consideration of formal protocols for protecting fighters and their camps from COVID-19 “for events held without the presence of a live audience.”
The commissioners will also consider an application from Dana White’s mixed martial arts Ultimate Fighting Championship to hold bouts in Vegas on May 30 and June 6.
And they will consider a request from Promoter Bob Arum’s Top Rank to stage a Boxing fight card on June 9 at the MGM Grand.
Approval of the applications will depend on whether the commission decides it can remove or modify the restrictions it imposed after Nevada governor Steve Sisolak closed the state, including all casinos, in March.
Nevada began a multi-stage reopening process in May.
ESPN reported that Arum wants to stage live fights in Las Vegas on the ninth and 11th, bouts that ESPN would broadcast.
So far, potential fighters have not been announced.
The US sports network said the commission has been working with a Salt Lake City laboratory accredited by the World Anti-doping Agency to establish COVID-19 testing procedures.
UFC has already returned to action after an enforced hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The promotion held three live events in Jacksonville, Florida, on May 9, May 13 and last Saturday — all without fans.
One fighter scheduled to compete on May 9, Brazil’s Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, and two of his cornermen tested positive and were removed from the card, with UFC chief Dana White insisting that Souza’s positive test was proof the safeguards put in place were effective.
Arum said on Thursday 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.
“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.”
Arum’s Top Rank has a long-term deal with ESPN for fights that before the pandemic hit were on the main network and streaming service ESPN+. The network also combined with Fox to televise the pay-per-view of the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder heavyweight title card in February that was Top Rank’s last card.
Arum said he talked to Fury on Thursday and that plans are underway to hold the rematch - probably somewhere outside the US - late this year. He said there are also still plans for a highly anticipated lightweight title unification fight between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez by the end of the year.
In addition to Arum’s fights, British promoter Eddie Hearn said this week he plans to hold fights beginning sometime in July from the backyard garden of the family mansion outside London where he was raised. Hearn told The Athletic that the first fight card is tentatively set for July 15. Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya has also talked about returning with a July 4 card, though he has offered no details.
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.
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