<
>

Bob Arum says Top Rank cards to resume in June, likely in Nevada

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said Wednesday that his company will begin putting on fight cards next month after being idle since February due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are coming back in June," Arum told ESPN. "These will be shows that will be on ESPN and ESPN+. They will take place during the week and on weekends."

Arum said his company is working closely with ESPN to determine the upcoming schedule.

"They'll all be top fighters, really top fights," Arum said. "Will there be a [Tyson] Fury-[Deontay] Wilder? No. But they'll be some of our top fighters, like Jose Ramirez, he'll be in the mix, various others, Teofimo [Lopez], Shakur [Stevenson], all of them. In other words, the fights will be similar as the fights we've been putting on ESPN and ESPN+."

The events will not feature a live audience, as restrictions that ban large public gatherings are still in place.

"Don't kid yourself. For the rest of the summer, there won't be a crowd," Arum said. "I don't anticipate -- now, I don't know -- being able to do fights with any kind of crowd 'til the fourth quarter [of 2020]."

A few weeks ago, Arum expressed some interest in staging fights in Florida, where the WWE has been deemed "essential" by the governor's office. But because Top Rank's headquarters are located in Las Vegas, holding these first few events in Nevada makes the most logistical sense for the company, Arum said.

"That's what we're planning because it makes it easier for us. Our gym can be used for training," Arum said. "We have hotels that we [can] be opening up, and there won't be, initially, a big market of customers for rooms. They will have plenty of rooms available. These hotels have big ballrooms, which we could use to stage an event, and these ballrooms we could take for a two-month period, June and July, to put on events, maybe with an option to take them in August or September."

One issue events will face is making sure all participants and their camps are sequestered and practicing social distancing, but Arum said Nevada helps answer that.

"Because of the amount of hotel rooms in Las Vegas and because of the steps taken by the hotels and casinos there to get a clean, sanitary environment that we can rely on -- because we know the people -- it would be our preference to do the events in Nevada," Arum said.

"That doesn't mean that we might not do some fights in California, which has a good commission. Andy [Foster, the executive director of the California State Athletic Commission] is a terrific guy to work with. And I know somebody like Jose [Ramirez] prefers to do his fight in California, even without an audience."

Bob Bennett, the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, did not immediately respond for comment.

The most recent event promoted by Top Rank took place Feb. 22 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. In that fight, Fury stopped Wilder in seven rounds in their rematch.

Most other promotional outfits have targeted the month of July for their returns.

"Everybody is working together. We're going to do this," Arum said. "We got word that Nevada will have a major testing facility at one of the hospitals in Las Vegas, which can handle many thousands of tests a day. So we're working through everything. It's not something that we're experts in. We have to rely on the medical experts and so forth.

"But just now, we're working closely, certainly in Nevada, with the commission and the medical experts, with the hotels, and we'll be doing the same in California."

Ramirez, who holds the WBC and WBO junior welterweight titles, has twice had his mandatory defense against Viktor Postol postponed due to the virus. The first was Feb. 1 in China, and the second was May 9 in Fresno, California.