Promotor Bob Arum and Top Rank Boxing are finalizing a boxing card for June 9 in Las Vegas, an event that would mark the return of boxing to the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mike Coppinger of The Athletic reported that the main event of the proposed card will feature featherweight champion Shakur Stevenson defending his crown against Rafael Rivera.
Vegas Could Host Two Boxing Cards Per Week
Arum confirmed to The Athletic that Top Rank is looking to produce two events per week at an MGM property in Las Vegas beginning in June.
“We usually do nine-fight cards,” Arum told The Athletic. “Now we’ll cut it down to four or five, probably five a card. Doing 10 in the course of a week is not usual for us, except it won’t be on the same day.”
Arum told ESPN’s Steve Kim that while he’d like to begin with the Stevenson fight on June 9, local regulators still have to weigh in about how Top Rank proceeds.
“It’s the tentative date for Top Rank, subject to working with the [Nevada Athletic Commission],” Arum told ESPN. “We’re optimistic on it, and working with ESPN. They want that date, so that is the tentative date.”
If fights are held on June 9, the Top Rank card would air on one of ESPN’s networks.
Arum, White Trade Barbs Over Return of Combat Sports
While talking to The Athletic, Arum spoke of the emphasis that Top Rank is putting on safety protocols. That included taking a few digs at the UFC, which returned to action on May 9 in Jacksonville.
“What they did was a start, but it wasn’t as we’d like it to be,” Arum said. “But I don’t fault the UFC. They were struggling with their standards and eventually when they come into Nevada, which they’re planning to do in June, they’ll have to adhere to the same standards as we do.”
UFC president Dana White fired back at Arum after the company’s Wednesday show in Jacksonville, saying that he wouldn’t be willing to share his facilities with Top Rank.
“If Bob Arum wanted the plan that we put together to pull off this event, we would absolutely give it to them,” White said during a press conference. “If he wants to use the APEX, I’d tell him to go f— himself.”
Stevenson (13-0, 7 KOs) won a silver medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics. He earned the WBO world featherweight title in Nov. 2019 when he beat the previously undefeated Joet Gonzalez by unanimous decision. Meanwhile, Rivera (27-4-2, 18 KOs) is a former title challenger who’s lost four of his past six fights.
Stevenson isn’t the only world titlist looking to defend his belt in the near future. WBO junior lightweight champion Jamel Herring (21-2, 10 KOs) told ESPN that he’ll defend his title on July 2 in Las Vegas. No opponent has been named for the Herring fight.