WBC issues plan for boxing to return amid coronavirus

The World Boxing Council (WBC) is advising promoters and national or state commissions to put boxers and their teams into 14 days of isolation before staging events behind closed doors.

Promoters are devising plans for boxing to return after the sport was shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, as states and nations prepare to ease restrictions around the staging of live sports events without fans.

The WBC is recommending boxers and their teams should be based at an isolated venue for 14 days leading up to the fight, and has set out guidelines for remote judging.

Under the WBC's plans, judges will score fights by watching the fight live via TV from home, logging into a WBC portal and then scoring the fight after every round. The state or national boxing commission and supervisor will then finalize the scores at the venue.

The WBC is emailing promoters and boxing commissions around the world with its protocol for boxing cards behind closed doors, although the governing body has no authority to enforce the protocols it sets out.

"I've read the plan. I think there's some good information in the plan," Andy Foster, executive director of the California State Athletic Commission, told ESPN. "We're working with our doctors to have a viable option for promoters when the [California] government announces the Phase 3 part of the reopening. We're gonna continue to talk about this and continue to develop it."

Larry Hazzard, director of the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board, had similar thoughts when talking to ESPN about public health concerns dictating when and how to begin the process of returning to sports: "New Jersey, when we do resume our level of activity, we will be guided strictly by our medical staff, and we will go forth based upon the evidence that we get from our media advisory panel, regardless of what ideas some sanctioning bodies have -- and that includes the WBC."

The New York State Athletic Commission, meanwhile, said that as the state "begins to develop a phased-in approach to reopen, the Commission is continuing to monitor the situation and will work with our medical team to ensure we are in compliance with all rapidly evolving state guidelines to protect the health and safety of fighters, employees and the greater public."

The WBC also advises measures that include a questionnaire about the coronavirus for those involved in the event, an examination of medical records, daily monitoring and three coronavirus tests, with the final one at the weigh-in.

WBC president Mauricio Sulaimán told a news conference on Zoom: "This is a recommendation document for promoters. The idea would be a lockdown place [venue], not open to the public. The press conference and weigh-in would have no public. The fighters and their teams would need to go through a 14-day isolation with a daily monitoring of their temperatures.

"This is a proposed protocol for the boxing industry to use. We understand each country have different laws and states in the U.S. have different state laws. This is a general recommendation and it's not to do with WBC world boxing events, it's for boxing in general."

Sulaimán also said the WBC will not be putting pressure on its champions -- including heavyweight Tyson Fury, light heavyweight Artur Beterbiev, middleweight Jermall Charlo, super lightweight Jose Carlos Ramirez, lightweight Devin Haney, junior lightweight Miguel Berchelt and junior bantamweight Francisco Estrada -- to fulfill mandatory defenses by certain deadlines due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sulaimán added: "We're going to work with every promoter and champion and mandatory challenger and address every topic."

British promoter Frank Warren told ESPN he hopes to be staging events without fans by July, but it may be months before crowds are allowed to attend boxing events.

ESPN's Marc Raimondi contributed to this report.