Fighters on Saturday’s boxing card at the Alexis Arguello Sports Complex in Managua, Nicaragua, are grateful to promoters and the Nicaragua Sports commission for giving them an opportunity to work. As the coronavirus pandemic stopped sports all over the world, they didn’t know whether they’d bring home a paycheck anytime soon.
Rosendo Alvarez, the promoter for Saturday’s eight-fight card (ESPN Deportes, 11 p.m. ET) and a former two-division world titleholder, said the event will be conducted under strict health regulations. A crowd of up to 800 fans, or 10% of the arena’s capacity, is expected.
Alvarez said all of the boxers participating on the show are charged with a greater responsibility.
“We want Nicaragua to show the world that its people are working because they need to,” he said. “If the boxers don’t fight, they don’t earn money because they don’t have a monthly salary. So we were willing to work with them.”
Nicaragua is one of the few nations with live professional sports during the pandemic. Soccer, baseball and boxing have been conducted with fans in the stands. According to the Johns Hopkins pandemic tracking system, the country has only 11 detected cases of COVID-19 among its population, with three deaths.
Juan Alberto Molinares, president of Nicaragua’s boxing commission, emphasized that the organization insisted on a series of measures — among them medical exams administered at the official weigh-in to the participants, which includes the testing of blood pressure and body temperature — to sanction the event while assuring the safest environment possible.
“It’s a big place, and we’ll make sure that fans are distancing, footwear will be sanitized with chlorine, hand sanitizer will be used and [body] temperatures will be taken,” Molinares said. “The requirements will be the same for fans as for boxers, commissioners and officials. We expect the public to cooperate with this initiative and take everything we’re doing into account.”
Alvarez added that fans will be required to stay at least 3 feet from each other and that all restrooms will have enough soap and water for hand-washing.
Freddy Fonseca, a lightweight who faces Alain Aguilar on Saturday, was just relieved to get a fight.
“If we don’t work, we don’t eat,” Fonseca said. “We appreciate what Rosendo and the organizers are doing because they were also thinking of the boxers and how they had to fight for a living.”
For main event lightweights Ramiro Blanco and Robin Zamora, the night also represents an opportunity to display their talents at a time when the boxing spotlight will shine solely on them. Zamora scored a second-round technical knockout of Blanco in October.
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“They’re going to see a much smarter Ramiro Blanco, composed and hitting hard to shut Robin and his manager out,” Blanco said. “I’m very excited that this is going to air on ESPN KnockOut [in Latin America], a platform that everyone sees, so we’re going to shine for the whole world that day.”
Zamora said he is grateful to be fighting Saturday and that he expects to make a name for himself on the televised event.
“I’ve been preparing since I beat Ramiro Blanco [in October],” Zamora said. “I haven’t stopped training and I’m going for the win in the first round.”