Any fighting chance of boxing taking place in Las Vegas over the next few weeks was just dealt a potential knockout blow.
The grim reality of several shows in Sin City meeting the chopping block surfaced Sunday evening, with the announcement from MGM Resorts International that all properties will temporarily close beginning Tuesday, March 17 for an undetermined amount of time.
“As the coronavirus pandemic has intensified in the United States over the past week, the people of MGM Resorts have worked to try to find a way to continue delivering high quality hospitality and entertainment experiences for our guests while keeping our employees doing the jobs they love in a safe environment,” Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts said in a company statement. “Welcoming people from around the world is what we do, and our employees have tremendous pride in their work.
“Despite our commitment to dedicating additional resources for cleaning and promoting good health, while making difficult decisions to close certain aspects of our operations, it is now apparent that this is a public health crisis that requires major collective action if we are to slow its progression. Accordingly, we will close all of our Las Vegas properties as of Tuesday, March 17th, for the good of our employees, guests and communities.”
As it relates to boxing, the show at the greatest risk of being canceled is a planned March 28 Showtime tripleheader due to air from Park MGM in Las Vegas. The card was to feature Mexico’s unbeaten former bantamweight titlist Luis Nery in a junior featherweight title eliminator versus countryman Aaron Alameda.
Also at risk is an April 25 show at Mandalay Bay, an MGM Resort property that was due to host an ESPN+ show featuring the Las Vegas debut of Japan’s Naoya Inoue. The unbeaten, unified bantamweight titlist and pound-for-pound entrant is currently due to collide with Philippines’ John Riel Casimero in a mouthwatering three-belt unification clash.
One week later is the targeted time frame for a super middleweight title fight between England’s unbeaten two-division and defending 168-pound beltholder Billy Joe Saunders and Mexico’s three-division champ Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. The bout is intended to top a May 2 event at the T-Mobile Arena in celebration of Mexico’s Cinco de Mayo holiday.
External to Las Vegas is an April 17 DAZN event due to take place at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. The facility was forced to contend with the cancellation of a March 14 show that was to air live on FS1. The April 17 card—which carries the headliner of a clash between former junior welterweight titlists Regis Prograis and Maurice Hooker—is now on the hunt for a new home, if it in fact sees the light of day regardless of location.
Two more boxing events taking place during that time frame are slated for properties not owned by MGM Resorts, but also officially on the clock.
An April 11 show is due to air on an ESPN platform from The Cosmopolitan, featuring junior bantamweight titlist Jerwin Ancajas. The Cosmopolitan has already announced through parent company The Blackstone Group that four on-site restaurants and night clubs are temporarily closed in the wake of the ongoing health crisis.
The April 24 edition of Showtime’s Shobox series, a tripleheader presented by Sampson is scheduled to air live from Cannery Casino. The property is owned by Boyd Gaming, which confirmed the temporary closing of four of its establishments elsewhere in the nation, but not any of the facilities in Las Vegas as of Sunday.
For now, the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) has its next monthly agenda hearing scheduled for March 25. The session will review the status of any combat sports event still scheduled to take place by that point.
As for any event due to take place on an MGM property, of consideration is a current restriction disallowing any reservations for arrival prior to May 1.
“This is a time of uncertainty across our country and the globe and we must all do our part to curtail the spread of this virus,” explained Murren. “We will plan to reopen our resorts as soon as it safe to do so and we will continue to support our employees, guests, and communities in every way that we can during this period of closure.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox