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Top Rank called off two future boxing cards on Thursday night amid the COVID-19 outbreak, and cited a lack of access to tests for the virus, according to ESPN.
Shakur Stevenson, the featherweight titleholder, was going to defend that title against Miguel Marriaga on Saturday at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York. Michael Conlan was going to headline Tuesday’s card with his bout against Belmar Preciado.
Both fights were set to be held without fans, a change made in recent days in the wake of the outbreak in the United States.
The decision to call the fights off completely, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said, was done because he said they had no way to accurately test the fighters for the coronavirus.
“We were going to be guided by the recommendation of the athlete commission,” Arum said, via ESPN. “And they consulted their medical people and were advised not to go through with these events because there is no way to adequately test the fighters. It's as simple as that. It's a failure to provide the proper testing for this virus in-country. If we could test the fighters and one or two tested positive then we would eliminate their fights, same with the referee. But without testing we are operating in the dark.”
The fights being canceled marked at least the 15th boxing card that was either postponed or canceled in North America alone this week due to the outbreak, per ESPN. It’s just the latest cancellation in the sports world in general, joining the NBA, college basketball, XFL, MLB, MLS, PGA Tour and others.
Stevenson and Marriaga had promoted the bout just hours before the news broke on Thursday, too.
Arum blamed Trump for lack of coronavirus prep
Arum, while extremely upset for the fighters themselves, explicitly blamed President Donald Trump. Had he and his administration been prepared for the outbreak in the first place, Arum said, these fights would still be taking place.
“The people I am most sorry about are the fighters because they work so hard to get ready. They put in the time and sweat and they come out with nothing,” Arum said, via ESPN. “That's something that we should all blame the President of the United States for and his administration because they didn't prepare us for this pandemic when they had all the advance notice when the first cases started coming out of China.”
New dates for the fight have not yet been set, though Top Rank said it will “work with the commission to reschedule the events as soon as it is safe for all involved.”
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