After announcing Thursday afternoon that boxing fans wouldn’t be permitted to attend cards Saturday night and Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater, Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. postponed those two shows indefinitely Thursday night due to concerns over the fast-spreading coronavirus.
Those postponements followed announcements earlier Thursday that a Premier Boxing Champions card scheduled for Saturday night in Oxon Hill, Maryland, will not take place and that the California State Athletic Commission won’t allow combat sports events through the end of March. Arum had hoped his two shows would proceed as planned, though without audiences, because almost all of the boxers scheduled to compete already had arrived in Manhattan.
Fourteen fighters were scheduled to weigh-in Friday for a seven-bout card ESPN was supposed to televise Saturday, starting at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT. Shakur Stevenson (13-0, 7 KOs), a 2016 Olympic silver medalist from Newark, New Jersey, was supposed to make the first defense of his WBO featherweight title against Colombia’s Miguel Marriaga (29-3, 25 KOs) in the main event Saturday night.
The card Tuesday night was supposed to feature Northern Ireland’s Michael Conlan (13-0, 7 KOs), a featherweight contender who was scheduled to meet Colombia’s Belmar Preciado (20-2-1, 13 KOs) in a 10-round main event. Conlan-Preciado was slated to headline an ESPN+ stream on St. Patrick’s Day (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).
FS1 was supposed to televise the aforementioned PBC show Saturday at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. Former junior middleweight contender James Kirkland (34-2, 30 KOs), of Austin, Texas, was scheduled to face Fresno’s Marcos Hernandez (14-3-1, 3 KOs) in the 10-round main event of that card at MGM National Harbor, just outside of Washington, D.C.
The boxing postponements were made after an unprecedented 24-hour period during which the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball temporarily suspended operations due to the coronavirus pandemic. The NCAA also canceled its men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments Thursday, following announcements by most affiliated leagues that conferences tournaments, many of which had already started, were canceled.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.