Dozens of boxing cards scheduled to take place around the world — big and small — have been postponed or canceled over the past week due to the coronavirus pandemic.
One show after another was removed from the schedule, leaving fighters, promoters, venues, broadcasters and fans alike with no idea when boxing — or sports in general — will resume. There’s no offseason in boxing, but now boxing is likely facing at least a couple of months with no fights.
With the sports world shuttered, for boxing it means no fights. That means nobody is making any money — not the boxers, promoters or managers. Not the sparring partners, gyms or trainers. It means venues have open dates beyond just those of their main tenants that have also been called off, broadcasters have holes in their schedules and fans have no live action to watch for the foreseeable future.
“It sucks but we have to put things into perspective. There are thousands of people dying from this virus so I can’t whine too much about a fight being postponed,” said Australian bantamweight Jason Moloney, who was due to face fellow contender Joshua Greer on April 25 in the ESPN-televised co-feature of the Naoya Inoue-John Riel Casimero bantamweight title unification fight at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. “I just hope that this all comes to an end very soon and that we can get this fight on as soon as possible.”
Many fighters with upcoming bouts called off have maintained a positive attitude under the circumstances.
“I am extremely disappointed that my fight has been postponed, but I understand that the health and safety of everyone is more important,” said Andrew Moloney, Jason’s twin brother and a secondary junior bantamweight titlist whose first defense against Israel Gonzalez was slated to headline an April 17 ESPN card in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but was postponed.
“I was really looking forward to making my American debut and defending my world title for the first time,” he said. “I hope that everything returns to normal and we can reschedule this fight as soon as possible because I’m ready to fight right now.”
David Benavidez was scheduled to make his first defense against Roamer Alexis Angulo in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card on April 18. For Benavidez it was an especially big deal because he was going to fight at home.
“It’s very disappointing because I’m not gonna be able to fight in my hometown, which I’ve been trying to do for the last five years,” said Benavidez, although when the fight is rescheduled it probably still will take place in Phoenix. “But looking at the situation, we’re at the point where we’ve never been before with everything getting closed down, I feel like it’s good for the public safety and the best decision because what’s going on right now is super crazy.”
Benavidez has been living in Seattle, near the epicenter of where the coronavirus outbreak first became an issue in the United States. But he said he has been taking all the necessary precautions to make sure he does not contract the virus.
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“I was sparring 12 rounds with three different guys and I was already basically reaching the peak of my training camp, so we were very devastated when we got the news, so we just had to send everybody home until we get more information about this,” Benavidez said. “The promoter told us to stay ready, but rather than waste all this money on sparring partners we sent them home until we get an update on what’s going on.
“I’ll stay moving around at the gym, probably run on the treadmill, do a little bag work, a little mitt work. I feel like that’s a normal part of my day anyway. I will stay moving every day. I am very comfortable just training all day but until we get an exact date we probably won’t bring the sparring partners back.”
Benavidez is fortunate in that he can continue training as he has his own gym in Seattle.
Welterweight contender Jamal James was due to take on Thomas Dulorme for a vacant interim belt on April 11 in a PBC main event at The Armory in Minneapolis, James’ hometown, where he is a big draw. James is in a similar situation to Benavidez and has a similar attitude.
“You just got to stay ready. This is one of those worldwide things, a worldwide epidemic that has stopped everything, but the fight is still gonna happen,” James said. “So I just have to stay focused and don’t let this delay discourage me. So keep training, but just don’t overdo it because I don’t want to get burned out. I will ease back a little but still stay in shape and when they set it up again we don’t have to start over.”
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“Everybody else is staying at home. I told them to stay at home,” Garcia said. “The amateur kids aren’t coming to the gym because USA Boxing canceled tournaments. So I told the kids to stay at home until further notice. This is serious. At first I was like, ‘Just wash your hands and we’ll be good,’ but now schools are closed, events are shutting down. It is something to be worried about. I also told the parents [of the amateur fighters] and the people that like to come and visit, ‘Let’s stay away from the gym.’ Hopefully, Jose’s fight goes on so I don’t want anyone around him at the gym who doesn’t need to be there.”
The sanctioning bodies have also been impacted. The WBC has closed its office in Mexico City and postponed its Muay Thai convention, which was supposed to take place this week in Bangkok, Thailand.
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman said fighters with due mandatory defenses should not worry about their belts being in jeopardy.
“The WBC will certainly look into each specific division regarding the mandatories and the time will be adjusted in each specific case,” Sulaiman said. “We are very sorry for the effect on fighters and promoters. Activity worldwide has been put on hold and many fighters cannot even train, so the times will vary for the rescheduling of events. The WBC will work very closely with all promoters to support their specific situations and, of course, will support all champions and challengers.”
When that activity might resume is anyone’s guess.
“Everything is up in the air as of now,” Moretti said. “But I don’t know how it changes in the coming days and weeks.”