Advertisement: IBO Boxing
Advertisement
Boxingscene.com
Advertisement

Showtime's Espinoza: Leo-Williams 'Great Alternative' After Fulton Failed Test

Al Haymon, promoter Tom Brown and Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza prepared as best they could for exactly what happened Wednesday.

They developed a comprehensive, costly contingency plan to keep their televised bouts intact in the event boxers scheduled to participate tested positive for COVID-19. Observing seven of the last 10 main events ESPN and Top Rank produced in June and July get altered, postponed or canceled altogether reinforced the importance of being able to make such adjustments at the 11th hour.

Once they learned that Stephen Fulton tested positive for COVID-19, they immediately moved Tramaine Williams into Showtime’s main event versus Angelo Leo on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Leo (19-0, 9 KOs), of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Williams (19-0, 6 KOs, 1 NC), of nearby New Haven, Connecticut, will fight for the vacant WBO junior featherweight title.

stephen-espinoza_1

Williams understood when he accepted his co-featured fight against Ra’eese Aleem that he would fight Fulton or Leo in the main event if either fighter tested positive for COVID-19.

Once Fulton fell out of the main event, they promptly replaced Williams with Marcus Bates in the co-feature, in which Washington, D.C.’s Bates (11-1-1, 8 KOs) will attempt to avenge his lone loss as a professional against Las Vegas’ Aleem (16-0, 10 KOs). Williams and Aleem had been scheduled to meet in the 10-round co-feature of Showtime’s tripleheader.

Williams is the WBO’s sixth-ranked contender in the junior featherweight division. The number one-ranked Fulton and the second-ranked Leo were scheduled to fight for the unclaimed WBO junior featherweight title Mexico’s Emanuel Navarrete vacated recently to move up to featherweight.

Philadelphia’s Fulton (18-0, 8 KOs) tested negative six times for COVID-19 from June 25 to July 23, but he tested positive prior to entering the confined space Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, Brown’s Ten Goose Boxing Promotions and Showtime have reserved at Mohegan Sun.

“In this case, the protocols worked,” Espinoza, Showtime’s president of sports and event programming, told BoxingScene.com. “This positive case was caught prior to Fulton entering into our closed system, so the risk was minimized, and our system worked. Unfortunately, this is now a fact of life. There is no way to eliminate all the risks. All we can do is try to minimize those risks to the greatest extent possible, and to take steps to be prepared. One of the steps we and the promoters and PBC have taken is to have backup fighters ready, fighters who have been tested, who have been training the entire time, who have been paid to keep themselves ready to step in at a moment’s notice in the unfortunate event of a positive test.

“That’s how we’ve been able to keep this card A, largely intact, and B, still stacked with high-quality, competitive matches. To lose someone of Stephen Fulton’s caliber, but still be able to maintain a world title fight with two top-rated contenders is a great alternative to what was a very highly anticipated main event. And to be able to have someone to step in like Marcus Bates to provide a rematch of his only loss to Raeese Aleem is probably the best possible result short of having our original card intact.”

There are only three fights scheduled for Saturday’s card at Mohegan Sun. Without a non-televised undercard, Bates was strictly on standby, training for a fight that might not have happened.

“For future cards, there will be some off-TV fights,” Espinoza explained. “But for this particular event, there were just fighters that were paid to train and be ready, and they were also included in the testing protocols. So, a fighter such as Bates, coming in as a replacement he has already undergone testing, even though he was only a backup. So, his first test wasn’t [Tuesday] or [Wednesday]. He’s been tested previously and obviously been negative all throughout.”

The opener of Showtime’s three-bout broadcast wasn’t impacted by Fulton’s removal from the main event.

In that 10-rounder, light heavyweights Joseph George and Marcos Escudero will meet in an immediate rematch. Houston’s George (10-0, 6 KOs) edged Argentina’s Escudero (10-1, 9 KOs) by split decision in their 10-round bout November 15 at WinnaVegas Casino Resort in Sloan, Iowa.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

User Comments and Feedback
Comment by Mammoth on 07-31-2020

[QUOTE=ShoulderRoll;20681938]Smart to have backup fighters right from the start. Just in case.[/QUOTE] Yes, this will have to be the new norm

Comment by Nash out on 07-31-2020

[QUOTE=MC Hammer;20681538]Yall need to re-do this headline. When you say failed test, the first thing I think is drug test. I may not be the only one[/QUOTE] Fully I agree. I read this headline yesterday and that is what I…

Comment by ShoulderRoll on 07-30-2020

Smart to have backup fighters right from the start. Just in case.

Comment by MC Hammer on 07-30-2020

Yall need to re-do this headline. When you say failed test, the first thing I think is drug test. I may not be the only one

Comment by Oldskoolg on 07-30-2020

[QUOTE=rudy;20681199]Black people teaching a jewish man how to promote Top Rank must be hanging their head in shame. Well done PBC[/QUOTE] As a jewish man, I love it. PBC is the best outfit in boxing b cause al haymon I…

ADD COMMENT VIEW COMMENTS (7)
Advertisement
Top Headlines
Eddie Hearn Keen To Offer Nathan Bennett Route Back Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. Reflects on His Decline, What Led To His First Loss Sergio Martinez: August 21 Will Be The Start, Or The End, Of Something Very Beautiful Lee McGregor: Let's See If Ryan Walker Can Back It Up McCaskill Makes The Most Of Extra Time To Prepare For Braekhus Canelo Wants To Fight Outside of U.S., Grow His Market, Says Golden Boy Prez Kavaliauskas-Imam, Marriaga-Gonzalez Eyed For September 12 Chelokhsaev Barely Gets Past Shakhnazaryan, Sirotkin Wins George: Shocking I Was Down On Cards To Escudero; Didn't See Me Losing One Round Eubank Jr: Roy Jones Has Been Active, Don't Know How Prepared Mike Tyson Is Stephen Fulton: I'm Ready For Angelo Leo, I've Been Ready Xander Zayas Added to September 4 Boxeo Telemundo Card in Kissimmee Ra'eese Aleem Dominates, Stops Marcus Bates in Rematch David Benavidez: As Of Right Now, There's A Lot To Do At 168 Joe George Brutally Knocks Out Marcos Escudero in Rematch Anthony Yarde: Arthur's Win Boring, Spelman Wouldn't Last Twelve With Me Angelo Leo Beats Up Tramaine Williams' Body To Win WBO Title Whyte: I'm Expecting Best Povetkin In Long Time; He Knows What's At Stake Adrien Broner: I'll Destroy 135 If I Return To Division; I Can Still Make The Weight Ted Cheeseman Goes Through Fire To Beat Sam Eggington James Tennyson Stops Gwynne, Fabio Wardley Blasts Vallily Dalton Smith Crushes Bennett, Jordan Gill Beats Bellotti Mike Tyson: If The Opportunity Comes - I'll Knock Roy Jones Out! Vladyslav Sirenko Batters Pavlo Krolenko For TKO in Five Chavez Sr. On Why His Son's Career Declined, Canelo Big Rise Berlanga Has Big Goals of Becoming Champ, Facing Canelo Angelo Leo Pounds Tramaine Williams For Decision, Wins WBO Title Tramaine Williams vs. Angelo Leo - LIVE BoxingScene Scorecard Ra'eese Aleem Stops Marcus Bates in Tenth of Rematch Joe George Knocks Marcos Escudero Out With Big Uppercut in Ninth Bates: Something Was Wrong With Water In Corner During Loss To Aleem George: If I Was In Better Shape, I Would’ve Finished Escudero In First Fight Ted Cheeseman Edges Sam Eggington in Fireworks Fight Sam Eggington vs. Ted Cheeseman - LIVE BoxingScene Scorecard James Tennyson Drops, Stops Gavin Gwynne in Sixth Fabio Wardley Blasts Out Simon Vallily in Third Round Dalton Smith Scores Crushing One-Punch KO of Nathan Bennett in Fifth Jordan Gill Boxes Past Reece Bellotti Over Ten Rounds Aleem: I Beat Bates Fair & Square In First Fight; Real Fighters Don't Make Up Excuses PBC Spokesperson: Being First To Come Back During Pandemic Was Never the Plan
Advertisement
Advertisement
Latest Forum Threads
Advertisement
Advertisement