Yet another boxing show falls prey to the coronavirus pandemic, although this one at least comes with a sound contingency plan in place.
Event handlers were prepared for the reality of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) cruiserweight final being postponed amidst COVID-19 health concerns and worldwide restrictions in place on large gatherings. As such, tournament organizers Comosa AG announced that the March 21 cruiserweight clash between finalists Mairis Briedis and Yuniel Dorticos has now been pushed back to May 16,
The event will still take place at the Riga Arena in Briedis' hometown of Riga, Latvia, though with the situation sitll being monitored to ensure that all events are cleared to take place by then.
As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, the reality of the event being postponed arose once the Latvian Government declared a national emergency. Latvia is on the low end of confirmed COVID-19 cases, with just 26 total reported and with all but one still active. Neighboring nation Estonia has reported 109 cases, while Russia has 47 and Lithuania 8, with none of the nations yet to claim a casualty.
Still, all are taking proactive measures to ensure they remain on that end of the spectrum. As such, the Latvian government declared that all “public events, meetings, processions and pickets with more than 200 participants are banned as of March 13 until April 14, 2020.”
WBSS events exceed that number in production and staff personnel alone, which meant either proceeding with a pared down version of the series or to move forward with a new date where fans could attend.
Tickets were long ago sold out for the planned March 21 show, with more than 10,000 expected to file into the Riga Arena. A similar crowd is expected for the new date, with the finalists both promising to bring the same energy as would have been the case next weekend.
"We’ve done great work in preparation until the very last planned training, but it is what it is," admitted Briedis (26-1, 19KOs). "We will now adapt to the new situation and keep training to wait for the green light. Looking forward to fighting in front of my fans when it’s safe! Take care of yourself, people!"
Neither fighter is at any more of a disadvantage in having to wait two more months. Both have been out of the ring since scoring stoppage wins in the WBSS semifinal round in separate bouts on the same show last June in Riga.
Briedis advanced to the championship bracket following a 3rd round knockout of Poland's Krzysztof Glowacki, although the wild shootout played a significant role in the number of delays involved in the tournament finale.
The bout served as the subject of two official appeals, the latter calling for an immediate rematch as per the World Boxing Organization (WBO). Briedis opted to instead proceed with the WBSS tournament, having since been stripped of his title.
Dorticos (24-1, 22KOs) enjoyed a much clearer path to this stage. The Miami-based Cuban puncher lived up to his 'KO Doctor' ring moniker, delivering the 2019 BoxingScene.com Knockout of the Year after flattening previously unbeaten Andrew Tabiti. He has since waited patiently through a number of ordeals far beyond his control but is doing his best to remain positive.
“While I was in great shape and looking forward to coming to Latvia to win the Muhammad Ali Trophy, I understood the impracticality and therefore l will have have to wait until May to win the Tournament," acknowledges Dorticos. "I want to thank all my fans for their patience and I ask that everyone be careful and take the necessary steps to stay healthy during these challenging times.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox