Piecing the pugilistic puzzle back together due to the coronavirus outbreak will take some time for Matchroom Boxing Eddie Hearn.
On Tuesday, the promotional company cancelled all of its shows in March and April. Cards for May and June are currently in question as well.
“All events are subject to change right now. We hope that they won't be moved, but we understand this is constantly evolving,” Hearn told Sky Sports. “For the Anthony Joshua fight, there are potential plans to move that fight to July. We have a potential date for that, but right now, we're hoping June 20 can remain the date.”
Joshua was set to take on IBF mandatory Pulev and then move on to WBO mandatory Oleksandr Usyk later in the year, a plan that could still be pulled off on 2020 if coronavirus does not severely derail the sports slate by limiting public gatherings.
“The main thing is to make sure that every fighter has a new date to work toward,” said Hearn. “It’s heartbreaking for the sport, particularly the fighters but we have to stay safe. Right now, all of the fighters that were due to box do have another date scheduled in the summer.”
Hearn said the matchup between David Avanesyan and Josh Kelly, originally slated for The O2 in London on March 28, will be cancelled altogether and moved to a later card.
Lewis Ritson vs. Miguel Vazquez, scheduled for April 4 at the Utilita Arena Newcastle, will move to June 27, while the April 24 card headlined by Terri Harper vs. Natasha Jonas at the Doncaster Dome will move to June.
“Events in May as well have to be considered [for rescheduling]. They remain for now as we wait for further news,” said Hearn.
On May 2 at the Manchester Arena in England, Dillian Whyte is supposed to take on Alexander Povetkin. On May 23, Usyk is to challenge Derek Chisora at the 02 Arena in London.
“The British Boxing Board of Control will make a decision in early April regarding [boxing] moving forward,” said Hearn. “We're a little bit unclear in terms of the number of people allowed at mass gatherings. What the British Boxing Board of Control has said, which makes any event a complete no-no is that we're not sure the right doctors and medics can be provided at these events. Moreso, if there was an injury at these events, we're not sure if [fighters] can receive the right medical attention at these events. As soon as that comes up to play, it's not even up for consideration.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the LA Times, Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com and currently does TV commentary for combat sports programming that airs on Fox Sports and hosts his own radio show in Los Angeles. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com.