Top Rank is set to be the first promoter to bring back high-level boxing amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Who will be fighting and will other promoters follow suit? SI's Chris Mannix shares some updates from the boxing world.
Robin Lundberg: Boxing was one of the sports, of course, shut down by the coronavirus pandemic. But on Tuesday, the first major show will be held in the U.S. when Top Rank returns on ESPN from Los Vegas. I'm joined now by our senior writer, Chris Mannix. Chris, what do you see unfolding for for boxing's near future here?
Chris Mannix: Well, look, boxing is following the blueprint of UFC and coming back with behind closed doors shows they're going to do it first with Shakur Stevenson. 126-pound titleholder who is going to jump up to 130 pounds for this fight. The thing that Top Rank is doing right off the bat, is it's not really focusing on the quality of the matchups necessarily. They certainly hope for compelling matchups. They want to get their top fighters out.
That's why over the next month or so you're going to see Shakur Stevenson fight. You're going to see Jamel Herring fight. You're going to see some of their lower weight class titleholders just get out and be part of the boxing community again. And then as they start to get some momentum, start trying to put some of those big fights together so they can have those high profile matchups.
Robin Lundberg: You know, Top Rank is starting it. How quickly do you expect the other promoters to follow suit?
Chris Mannix: Well, they're certainly going to try. You've got Matchroom Boxing lead by Eddie Hearn, which would like to get back in July-August. Golden Boy would they would like to get back in July as well. PBC, which is Al Heymon's company. They're targeting August as their start date. So anybody wants to get some momentum going. The question is going to be, Robin. When can those big fights happen? When can we see Tyson Fury versus Deontay Wilder the third fight? When can we see Gennady Golovkin versus Canelo Alvarez fight for the third time?
Those are the type of fights that have huge live gates. How long will boxing wait during this pandemic to see if they can get those gates back? One thing Bob Arum said to me earlier this week was that he'd like to get something going with some NFL stadiums and Major League Baseball stadiums that have big fights that might attract 20-25,000 people and do it in venues that could hold 70,000 people. That way you can have the like day, but you can also socially disperse the crowd so it's less danger. So keep an eye on that for boxing to look at moving forward.