Live boxing in Quebec, out for the count during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, will soon be back on its feet. And, what’s more, limited attendance will be allowed.
According to documents obtained by The Journal of Montreal Wednesday evening, the public health ministry of Quebec officially lifted its controversial ban on combat sporting events in the province. In addition, the shows will be allowed a maximum of 250 spectators.
The first card is likely to take place by early October. Montreal promoter Camille Estephan of Eye of the Tiger Management is eyeing a show sometime between Sept. 26 and Oct. 3. in the nearby city of Shawinigan, according to The Journal. Super middleweight contender David Lemieux and rising heavyweight Arslanbek Makhmudov are expected to headline that show.
All promoters who wish to put on show must gain the approval of the ministry and also submit a safety protocol.
When news first circulated that the ministry had changed its mind on combat sports, Estéphan had let out a sigh of relief. Estéphan had been the main proponent in trying to pressure the government to reconsider its ban.
“Relieved. We were waiting. I’m very happy. It’s finally here and it’s about time,” Estephan told the Montreal Gazette back in late August. “I think our plan clearly showed that a professional event, without a shadow of a doubt, can’t be more risky than many other sectors they had already de-confined.”
Earlier in the summer, Quebecois health officials called off all boxing events out of a deep concern that the sport appeared to be dangerously well-suited to spreading the novel coronavirus. At issue was the close-contact nature of the sport. But that decision ignited the ire of local promoters, like Estephan and Yvon Michel, who pointed out the double standard of the ministry giving the greenlight to other close-contact sports, such as hockey.