Cards will be televised on ESPN’s family of networks, with which Top Rank signed a deal in 2018. Top Rank chairman Bob Arum reiterated his intention to hold biweekly cards throughout the summer, including title fights beginning this month.
“A lot of people are looking at us in different sports to see how it works, how we’re going to work it. We’re almost like guinea pigs,” Arum said. “We have a complete plan.”
Top Rank has been working with the Nevada Athletic Commission to develop a plan for boxing to return to Las Vegas without spectators. Last week, the commission unanimously approved health and safety protocols, allowing UFC to hold an event Saturday at its Apex facility and for Monday’s announcement by Top Rank.
Top Rank chief operating officer Brad Jacobs, who developed the company’s protocol, said fighters and others involved with the production will be tested for the coronavirus after arriving to Las Vegas and transported to the “bubble” environment inside the MGM Grand if they test negative.
Construction of the “bubble” will begin Wednesday, complete with the studio in which the fights will take place along with two training facilities featuring rings, heavy bags and other training equipment.
Fighters and their camps will be in Las Vegas for four or five days and will leave after they compete. Others involved with the production will be allowed to leave the “bubble” as long as they complete the safety protocols before returning.
Additional coronavirus tests will be administered accordingly.
“We tried to uncover every step and every detail for not only the fighter but his cornermen, our staff, ESPN staff, the athletic commission and the MGM staff,” said Jacobs, who spent six weeks developing the plan. “I feel very comfortable that we have covered about everything you can uncover prior to doing an event.”
Arum expressed a cautious sense of optimism about limited spectators attending fights in September. He also said his company has had exploratory talks with the Raiders about holding a fight in September between lightweight champions Vasyl Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez at Allegiant Stadium.
“(The Raiders) would love us to come in and do a fight with limited seating, because there you could do a fight for 5,000 or 10,000 people and everybody would be spread out,” Arum said. “That’s in the preliminary stages.”
Media won’t be allowed to attend the first two cards, but Arum said Top Rank intends on integrating live media for the title fights at some point.
“There are things we’re going to learn when doing an event that either we didn’t think of already. The proverbial ‘we didn’t know what we didn’t know.’ Those things will be uncovered and addressed immediately,” Jacobs said. “The primary goal of the safety and health of everybody that’s involved is paramount, and we’ve covered all the bases there.”
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