The monthly agenda hearings with the Nevada State Athletic Commission are normally spent fielding and approving grants, and assigning ring officials for upcoming events.
An entirely new dynamic is taken on with the scheduled March 25 hearing, with the fear that it will end without any events at all taking place for the next few weeks.
Commission members huddled for an emergency meeting on Saturday afternoon at state headquarters in Las Vegas. Bob Bennett, executive director of NSAC confirmed to BoxingScene.com that the purpose of the meeting wasn’t to kill off the current schedule but rather “cancelling any approved permits for unarmed combat on March 14 and March 15.”
For now, the news means that five scheduled boxing events on the NSAC calendar—due to take place March 28, April 11, April 24, April 25 and May 2—remain on as planned. That could very well change by the time the commission members meet on March 25 for the monthly agenda hearing, which will discuss action to take in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic rather than determine which officials will work the shows.
Of immediate concern are two shows: the March 28 Showtime card which airs live from Park MGM and the April 11 show due to air on an ESPN platform from The Cosmopolitan. Both fall in the general time frame of events which have been canceled at an alarming rate around the world, with many countries declaring a national emergency and placing restrictions on the number of people who can gather in one setting.
The March 28 show is topped by Mexico’s unbeaten former bantamweight titlist Luis Nery (30-0, 24KOs), who is due to face countryman Aaron Alemada in a junior featherweight title eliminator. The bout is part of a planned tripleheader on Showtime, which managed to squeeze in a Shobox telecast this past Friday in Hinckley, Minnesota. An 11th hour decision was made to disallow fans from attending the Shobox event.
A similar approach taken by Ultimate Fighting Champions (UFC), which interestingly has shows on the same two dates. Both events will take place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, and will be closed to the public.
That’s if the commission allows them to proceed as planned.
The April 11 show on an ESPN platform is scheduled to feature Philippines Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2, 22KOs) in a junior bantamweight title defense. The event was never formally announced as the opponent is still being settled, in addition to COVID-19 concerns, although chances are bleak of it moving forward at all.
By comparison, far more optimism exists for the shows in late April and early May to see the light of day, though none of three guaranteed by any means. Sampson Lewkowicz’s Sampson Boxing has a hold for a ShoBox tripleheader to take place at Cannery Casino on April 24, one night before the Las Vegas debut of Japan’s Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16KOs), the unbeaten three-division titlist and pound-for-pound entrant who faces Philippines’ John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20KOs) in a three-belt bantamweight title unification clash on April 25 at Mandalay Bay.
One week later—pending a formal announcement which was due to take place by now—is the biggest fight in town, as 2019 Fighter of the Year Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez pursues a title in a fourth weight division as he faces unbeaten super middleweight titlist Billy Joe Saunders at the T-Mobile Arena.
While all of the aforementioned shows remain on the schedule, the real main event for now will take place on March 25 in a Las Vegas meeting room.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox