Bob Arum has endured criticism the past couple weeks for the level of fights his promotional company has put on in Las Vegas.
If the 88-year-old promoter’s plan comes to fruition, though, Top Rank Inc. will bring one of the biggest boxing matches of the year to Las Vegas on September 19. That’s the date Arum has targeted for the highly anticipated lightweight title unification bout between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez.
“Our tentative date for that fight is the 19th of September,” Arum told BoxingScene.com. “That’s when we’re hoping to do it.”
The date of the Lomachenko-Lopez fight might depend on when even a limited number of fans can attend sporting events in Las Vegas. Executives for Arum’s company, which promotes Lomachenko and Lopez, and MGM Resorts International have discussed bringing Lomachenko-Lopez to one of MGM’s properties in Las Vegas.
“We’re working very closely with the MGM,” Arum said. “It could be at the MGM Grand. It could be at the Mandalay Bay, which is re-opening soon. It could be at T-Mobile [Arena]. It would really be up to them.”
Top Rank has held all of its post-pandemic cards since June 9 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. That will continue to be Top Rank’s venue for its ESPN shows throughout July and probably throughout August.
“In August, we’ll continue to have all ‘Bubble’ fights, with no spectators,” Arum said. “I think starting in September, you’ll see us doing fights with spectators, small numbers of spectators. And hopefully, by the end of this year and the beginning of next year, we’ll be back to fights with full capacity [at venues].”
Arum has said the Lomachenko-Lopez fight could take place without fans, but he hopes fans can enter Las Vegas venues by September 19.
“Right now, we are targeting Vegas for most of our events,” Arum said. “One, because when we open them up to spectators, the town really needs events with spectators to get up and rolling again. And they’ve been so cooperative with us with this ‘Bubble’ thing that we owe an obligation to the state of Nevada and Las Vegas to do as many events as we can once we get up and running with spectators. That’s not to say we might not use other places, but that’s what we’re looking to do, primarily Las Vegas. And then, as we get into November, December and next year, we’ll look to do big arenas where we can pack more people in.”
Ukraine’s Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) and Brooklyn’s Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) were supposed to meet May 30 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Contracts for this 12-round fight for the 32-year-old Lomachenko’s WBA and WBO lightweight titles and the 22-year-old Lopez’s IBF belt weren’t finalized once the COVID-19 pandemic began in the middle of March.
A deal for Lomachenko-Lopez still hasn’t been completed, but both boxers want that fight next.
Lomachenko and Lopez turned down Arum’s offer last month for tune-up fights in June and July, respectively. Neither fighter wants a bout before they square off.
“The original plan was to give them each an interim fight,” Arum told BoxingScene.com last month. “Loma was against that, and so was Lopez. We said, ‘Listen, we’re gonna postpone it because we don’t know when we can get a live audience.’ And our plan was in June and July to give Loma a fight and give Lopez a fight. And they each turned that down. They said they’re prepared to wait until September to fight each other.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.