The show will go in Santo Domingo, even if not this weekend.
Efforts to proceed with Saturday’s planned closed-doors boxing event in the Dominican Republic capital city were eventually thwarted by the nation’s government and Ministro de Deportes (Ministry of Sports). Former two-time 115-pound title challenger Norbelto Jimenez was due to face countryman Eliezer Aquino in a rematch that was to air live on ESPN Deportes from Coliseo Carlos ‘Teo’ Cruz, only for a decision made on Thursday from higher above to postpone the card and suspend all activities in D.R. until June 3.
The ruling came in response to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, prompting local officials to not grant approval with the card proceeding in present form despite its compliance with all health requirements.
Despite the last-minute postponement of Saturday’s planned card, event handlers remain pleased with the steps taken even to reach this point and are optimistic of returning to business in the very near future.
“We had everything ready, but [on Thursday] unfortunately, the government ordered us to [postpone],” Belgica Peña, CEO of Shuan Boxing informed BoxingScene.com. “Anyway, we [still] have the support of ESPN.”
Plans were in place for all participants to strictly adhere to the safety protocol outlined by Shuan Boxing and the World Boxing Association (WBA), who was due to have two regional titles at stake. All participants were tested for COVID-19 on Wednesday, all coming back negative. The venue was sterilized from roof to floor on Thursday morning, mere hours before a press release was sent out by Ministro de Deportes head Danilo Diaz, alerting all parties of the decision to suspend all nationwide activities.
The timing of the news was just enough to kill weekend plans, though the time frame provides a potentially short window for everyone to pick up where they left off in due time.
“All the testing standards were working very well,” insists Peña. “[Wednesday], we did the coronavirus tests and they all came out negative. The Sports Minister said he wants to support us and that from Monday (June 1) he will be able to talk about a date so that we can select the day with ESPN next week.”
The scheduled show would have served as the first boxing event in D.R. since February 22, and the first to air on a U.S. network since April 25—once again with ESPN Deportes rising to the occasion to present a show live from Nicaragua. With potentially better news to come in a week or so, the promotional and broadcast teams can chalk up this experience to a trial run, ensuring a stronger event once a new date arrives.
“I am sure it will be a success,” Peña believes. “We already have the experience of the sanitary protocol that we were using and we feel that people support us.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox