They won’t sell out Madison Square Garden, as Bob Arum, Teofimo Lopez and Vasiliy Lomachenko had hoped when they first began negotiating contracts.

The venue won’t be essentially empty, either, when Lomachenko and Lopez meet in a highly anticipated, lightweight title unification fight October 17. Arum announced during a virtual press conference Monday that new Nevada State Athletic Commission protocols will allow 250 people to attend the Lomachenko-Lopez card a week from Saturday night at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.

Arum also revealed that tickets will not be put on sale to the general public.

The 88-year-old promoter noted that those 250 people largely will consist of first responders from Nevada who’ve worked during the COVID-19 pandemic. That group also will include a specific number of guests per fighter on that card and a few reporters.

Fans have not been allowed to assemble at a noteworthy boxing event in the United States since Arum’s Top Rank Inc. became the first promoter to start staging shows again June 9. The 250 people permitted to attend the Lomachenko-Lopez card are in addition to ESPN employees, NSAC officials and Top Rank staff that typically have been ringside for shows at MGM Grand Conference Center since June 9.

“There are no tickets available,” Arum said. “Most of the people who will be admitted, under strict protocols, will be the so-called first responders. We’re looking to reward those people in Nevada who worked in the hospitals, taking care of the COVID patients. There will be some additional seats among the 250 given to the fight camps, so they could invite people who are near and dear to them, which wouldn’t have been allowed under the way the old protocol was.

“But there will be no sales of any tickets, no high rollers, none of that stuff. And I think [Top Rank media relations director] Evan [Korn] will clarify maybe some of those seats will be available to the media – all under very, very strict monitoring protocols, which [Top Rank COO] Brad Jacobs will be distributing to everybody who wants to attend the fight.”

Arum wanted to scheduled Lomachenko-Lopez for May 30 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Their fight was postponed 4½ months due to the coronavirus crisis that essentially shut down the boxing business for three months.

“During this pandemic and everything, I think it’s a blessing, man, honestly, to be able to have, you know, some fans,” Lopez said Monday. “[Knowing] it’s first responders, I think that’s just something that is very [admirable] and good to know. You know, 250 people is better than no people at all, especially for this type of magnitude of a fight that we have going on. You know, had this been 2019, I think we would’ve had a better outcome. But, you know, we find ways to make it work. You know, thanks to Top Rank and ESPN, and Bob Arum himself.

“You know, we find different ways to entertain the fight fans. That’s why this fight is on cable TV [ESPN], you know, for everyone to watch and tune in. You know, and that’s the whole thing about it – you know, you don’t have to pay pay-per-view or anything for something that is – even though it could be pay-per-view. This is a pay-per-view fight, absolutely, but, you know, we think about what’s going on and the pandemic. But it’s good, man. I think it’s gonna be a great night that night, and whoever those 250 people are, they’re gonna have a treat right there.”

Ukraine’s Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) and Brooklyn’s Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) will fight for Lomachenko’s WBA and WBO 135-pound championships, as well as Lopez’s IBF lightweight title. 

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.