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Boxing media review: Reaction to the crisis

Tyson Fury
Mikey Williams/Top Rank
As well as promoters being forced to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic, Floyd Mayweather speaks some sense, writes George Gigney

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IT’S a strange time to be monitoring boxing news, with the world gripped in concern and cautionary action as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but there’s still plenty to discuss.

As numerous major sporting events around the globe – including the Premier League here in the UK – are being postponed or cancelled outright, boxing is starting to too.

However, Frank Warren was moved to release a statement confirming that his upcoming show at the O2 on April 11 topped by Joe Joyce against Daniel Dubois is ‘not in jeopardy’. The statement was released before the government introduced a ban on all large public gatherings and the BBB of C in turned cancelled all events until the first of April. It seems like Joyce-Dubois will have to be rescheduled, which is a huge shame.

There are plenty of other UK shows also being scrapped, with promoters forced to act on the official guidance of the government, which means the world will be starved of boxing events for the coming weeks. The problem is that we’ve no idea how long these measures will need to be taken for – the world is entering uncertain times, and boxing as a sport will need to adapt accordingly. The UFC have already staged shows with no audience in attendance and are in the process of relocating numerous cards – one of which originally scheduled to be in London – so as to avoid scrapping these shows altogether. I’m not sure boxing can be quite as nimble.

Three of the four major sanctioning bodies released statements regarding the pandemic and, in a rare move, the WBO and WBA both spoke some sense by highlighting how seriously they’re taking the issue.

WBC head Mauricio Sulaiman, however, said that the world is “reacting wrongly” and that life can go on as normal if a few simple measures are taken. I’m not even sure how to react to such ignorance – except, perhaps, to ignore it.

While it would be difficult to be without any boxing to watch for the foreseeable future – particularly if we’ve got to stay indoors – I would much rather the proper precautions were taken to limit the spread of coronavirus. The other option, besides cancelling events, is to stage them behind closed doors – it’s highly unlikely to happen given the revenue required from live gates, and it’s also a risky strategy. It’s still early days for the UFC’s move to stage cards in empty arenas, and it might end up backfiring.

In separate news, Warren released another statement later in the week in response to a Mail on Sunday article claiming a Lancashire farmer had taken a £25,000 payment from a member of Tyson Fury’s camp to say he had provided uncastrated boar meat to the heavyweight, which resulted in him testing positive for banned substance nandrolone.

“I have never kept wild boar. I just went along with it, and they dangled this carrot I was going to get paid,” Martin Carefoot said.

Warren vehemently refuted the claim, writing: “The farmer making these outrageous allegations sent me a letter last October, full of errors and basically telling me he had committed perjury by signing statements under oath and lying. When I called him, he asked for money. I told him to clear off and get in contact with UKAD. He chose not to speak to UKAD but instead speak to a newspaper.

“How anybody can take this man seriously is beyond belief. Tyson has never met this man in his life. What a load of rubbish.”

It’s a bizarre move from Carefoot but trying to divulge his motives seems pointless; Fury served a backdated two-year ban for the failed test – in a situation handled terribly by UKAD. In my view, he’s served his time.

Speaking of which, Adrien Broner was arrested again. This time, he was picked up in Miami Beach under suspicion of driving under the influence, according to TMZ Sports. Worryingly, the police report claims Broner was found passed out behind the wheel of his car, and officers had to shake the vehicle in order to wake him up.

It’s yet another sad twist in Broner’s tale – though a lot of his actions have been reprehensible, it seems he has a problem and I hope he gets the help he needs. Any talk of him stepping between the ropes should be parked until he properly resolves his issues.

YOUTUBE

Bob Arum claimed to SiriusXM that he isn’t taking any precautions against the coronavirus pandemic. At 88, Arum really should be ensuring he’s keeping himself safe – and it’ll take a lot more than just smoking marijuana, which is what he told SiriusXM he’ll be doing.

Speaking to beINSPORTS, Hearn stated that he’ll promote MMA shows in the future and that he’s already been approached by broadcasters and the like to try and set something up to rival the UFC. Fair play to him; he’s not short of ambition. He’s still got a way to go before really cracking America in the boxing world, let alone taking on a centralised juggernaut like the UFC in a completely different sport.

Bizarrely, one of the sanest comments in boxing this week came from Floyd Mayweather. Speaking at one of the events on his tour of the UK, the former pound for pound king said: “What I don’t like about the sport right now – What is an ‘interim’ champ? They’ve got ‘interim’ champ now. They’re awarding guys vacant belts. And they’ve got ‘super’ champions. If you’ve got four boxing organisations, you should only have four champions.”

If we could just whittle that four down to one, we’d be laughing.

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