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Hearn says Whyte vs. Povetkin & Usyk vs. Chisora likely POSTPONED

Alexander Povetkin Alexander Usyk Derek Chisora Dillian Whyte

By Tim Royner: Promoter Eddie Hearn says he’s poised to postpone the Dillian Whyte vs. Alexander Povetkin and Oleksander Usyk vs. Dereck Chisora cards scheduled for May 2 and May 23 due to the coronavirus.

Hearn says that in two weeks, he’ll be looking at postponing IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua’s June 20th fight against Kubrat Pulev. That fight could get proved to July 25, but even that date isn’t a sure thing.

The fact is, Hearn isn’t certain that boxing will continue at all in 2020. Although Hearn is hopeful that the sport will resume by July under realistic terms, he says there’s a real chance that the fight could be pushed to August, September,  November or December. Hearn even believes that boxing could be done until February of 2021.

If measures adopted by the different countries to control the coronavirus pandemic continue to fail, in large part due to the reluctance of many people to self-isolate and wash hands, then the disease could stay around until 2021.

Hearn expects to postpone Whyte-Povetkin & Usyk-Chisora cards

“I think so,” said Hearn to IFL TV when asked if Whyte vs. Povetkin & Usyk vs. Chisora will be postponed. “We’ll make an official announcement this week regarding those two shows, but right now the chances of boxing, certainly in early May anyway are very limited.

“Even in May at all, and even in June. It’s not just about a period being over or a quarantine being over and then we go, ‘Okay, Saturday night, who’s coming?’ It’s going to take time for people to gain confidence, gain trust to want to go out again. I’m sure people are going to be desperate to watch sport. It’s still got to be the right time.

“The evolution of the comeback will be studio shows, maybe closed doors shows, maybe small hall shows going into the big stuff. It’s very difficult for [UK Prime Minister] Boris [Johnson] to come out and say at the end of April, ‘Right, we’ve flattened the curve, we’re going to go back to normal life,’ and we’re going to say, ‘Here’s a new show.’

“It’s going to take time. We’ll make a decision on our main shows [for May and June] this week, and then after a couple of weeks after that, we look at June 20 with AJ,” said Hearn.

This is disappointing news that Hearn is giving about the Whyte vs. Povetkin and Usyk vs. Chisora cards. But that may be just the tip of the iceberg, unfortunately, The next to go could be the Joshua vs. Pulev fight, Canelo Alvarez vs. Billy Joe Saunders and then Canelo vs. Gennadiy Golovkin.

Alexander Povetkin Alexander Usyk Derek Chisora Dillian Whyte

Boxing might not continue in 2020 – Hearn

“If the Premier League season is extended, we move that back to the end of July, but no one knows,” said Hearn. “We might not box this year. That’s unlikely, but what do I know? Right now, the best-case scenario is boxing resumes in June. That’s the best-case scenario or realistic scenario, July.

“A possible scenario, September, October, November, January, February. That’s why it’s important to listen, act and do the right thing now to get on top of this as soon as possible.

“We were going to do it. We booked studios to do it,” said Hearn in talking about having boxing cards behind closed doors. “Once we talked to the board and were told that doctors might not be available, access to hospitals might be restricted if there was an urgent situation. It’s impossible.

“The British Boxing Board of Control has announced that they’ll reconsider at the end of April. During that period, we will start our discussion with the board to say, ‘Is this possible? Can we do it?’ If that has to come behind closed doors for the safety of the British public and take note of the signs of the British public, that’s what we have to do.

“I don’t really want to do shows behind closed doors, I have to be honest. We were going to do the March 28 show, some of those fights behind closed doors,” said Hearn.

What Hearn says about boxing not coming back in 2020 is a worst-case scenario, it’s a very real possibility. When you see young people flouting the instructions from the government to stay inside and avoid large groups, it shows that the coronavirus could stay around for a long, long time.

Pay-per-view behind closed doors last option

“I don’t really see [pay-per-view shows behind closed doors],” said Hearn. “Unless we got to a point where we were in November or December and it was the only option, yes, I think that’ll be. This is a sport where we’ve built this sport the last few years on the buzz, the thrill, the energy, the night out.

“Joshua-Klitschko 90,000, Haye-Bellew at the O2…That’s the moment, being there, isn’t it to be part of this great fight or a great event.

“That’s so important to live sport. There will come a time, and that’ll be as soon as possible, to get these self-employed athletes out to make money and play sport. But we can only do it now when it’s safe because right now because it’s all irrelevant when we’re talking about life and death.

“When we’re talking about this disease ripping through doing what it’s done in Italy, here [in the UK]. It’s not that far away. If you look at the trend, it’s not that dissimilar.

“I don’t think it’ll go that way, but then again, what do I know? You give a date where you feel and the Board feels has a chance sports shows[will continue]. We hope by June there are events that are taking place,” said Hearn.

Right now, it’s not possible for Hearn and other promoters to put on events behind closed doors due to them not being guaranteed doctors being present for the events. This could change in the future if enough pressure is put on making getting the medical staff. But then again, you never know. Bigger sports like football, baseball and basketball are being sidelined. If those sports can’t be started, it’s possible that boxing will suffer the same fate.

Alexander Povetkin Alexander Usyk Derek Chisora Dillian Whyte

Eddie hopeful boxing will resume in July

“I’m very confident by July there will be events taking place,” said Hearn. “The reality is if we’re not up in running by July, not just boxing, but some of these sports may never bounce back.

“Do you think that I’m sitting home every day thinking about the comeback, thinking about the bounce back? Because when we do come back and when we do bounce back, we have to be stronger than ever.

“Our shows have to be better than ever. I have to give more opportunities to the fighters. This could change purses. All of a sudden, broadcasters could say, ‘No more boxing’ Promotional companies could go bankrupt. All of a sudden the whole economy of the sport could change. It will have massive changes to the sport.

“July 25th,” said Hearn when asked what’s the plan-B for the Anthony Joshua vs. Kubrat Pulev fight. “Same place [Tottenham]. If the Premier League starts. We still hope June 20th is still achievable. It’s still up in the air. So to give up another five weeks, gives us a lifeline, gives us a chance to get it done,” said Hearn.

Eddie is guessing here that boxing will resume in July. Nothing has changed in terms of the virus caseload. It’s said to be peeking in the next month, but that’s guesswork. The number of sick continues to skyrocket, and boxing won’t be given the green light to continue under those conditions.

Hearn to make a decision on June show in 2 weeks

“I feel like last week was about March-April,” said Hearn. “This week is about making a decision on our May shows, and then probably two weeks after that it’s about making a decision on the June shows, and then July. It’s all we can do. He [Anthony Joshua] understands. He’ll be happy to go at the end of July.

“He won’t really want to go much later than that, but it’s out of his hands as well. It’s quite important that he boxes twice a year, but it’s quite important that we get through this and that we keep everyone safe and healthy.

“What’s happening is bigger than the business of boxing. You’re at the point where you want to make sure your family is OK. F— the business. Let’s make sure we get through this. Once we get through this, then we focus on the business of boxing,” said Hearn.

It doesn’t sound good for the Joshua vs. Pulev card on June 20th. Hearn could wind up positioning that into August if the July 25th date fails to work.

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