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Regis Prograis vs. Maurice Hooker April 17 fight to be MOVED

Regis Prograis

By Jim Maltzman: Regis Prograis vs. Maurice Hooker that is scheduled for April 17 will need to be moved. The Centers for Disease Control [CDC] is reportedly advising events of 50 or more people to be postponed for eight weeks, according to @MikeCoppinger. Prograis vs. Hooker is currently scheduled for April 17 at the MGM National Harbor, in Oxon Hill, Maryland.  It seats 3,000 fans.

The big-name fighters and fight cards may need to wait it out until the pandemic blows over before they can fight. Who knows how long that’ll be?

The duration of the deadly Swine Flu and 1918 Spanish Flu pandemics:

  • Swine Flu – April 2009 to August 2010 [16 months]. Deaths 150,000–575,000
  • 1918 Spanish Flu – January 1918 – December 1920 [35 months]. Death toll estimated at 50 million

Its possible coronavirus WON’T disappear soon.

If the Prograis vs. Hooker fight is postponed for eight weeks, it won’t take place until mid-May. Prograis’ promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing will need to look at alternative options if he wants the fight to take place sooner.

Hearn has already said that he’s against staging fights behind closed doors. He says the bigger fights can’t be done behind closed doors due to the cost involved with the undercard. Seeing that Hearn had scheduled the Prograis-Hooker fight for a relatively small arena at the MGM National Harbor, perhaps Hearn will be willing to stage the fight behind closed doors without boxing fan or the media present.

“Sources: Regis Prograis-Maurice Hooker, slated for April 17 at MGM in D.C. area, won’t take place there as planned. Eddie Hearn looking into new site options. With CDC recommending 50-plus people events be postponed for the next 8 weeks, could be no boxing until June #COVIDー19,” said @MikeCoppinger.

Hearn hoping things get back to normal in April

“In the last 24 hours, so many different sports affected around the world. In America yesterday, you saw a number of fights canceled, this weekend and tonight as well,” said Hearn to Round4Round Boxing. “Just saw the announcement on EFL on the Premier League, which we talk about April the 3rd. So back to normal on April the 4th.

“Things can change, but really it’s a case by case scenario. Everything is completely out of our hands. We’re led by the government. At the moment, it’s business as usual. As we stress to the fans, don’t panic.

“Anything you’ve got a ticket for or anything you buy a ticket for that’s canceled, you will receive a refund for in full. But I think it’s the short-term stuff, particularly that’s going to be under the most threat. When we talk about this fight [Oleksandr Usyk vs. Dereck Chisora] is 11 weeks away.

“Joshua is 15 weeks away, Dillian Whyte is seven weeks away. I’m more concerned now with March 28th at the O2, April the 4th in Newcastle, but this stuff from the Premier League and the EFL is encouraging in the sense where we have a date [April 4] where things are supposed to go back to normal. But again, it’s completely out of our hands,” said Hearn.

April 4 might work for the UK, but that date won’t mean much for the U.S cards. Luckily for Hearn, most of his events are taking place in the UK for the next four months.  Perhaps he can’t bite the bullet and stage the Prograis-Hooker fight behind closed doors in the U.S on April 17. The undercard is an excellent one, however. If Hearn needs the gate to pay all those fighters, then he’s going to have to move the fight to the Prograis-Hooker fight card to the UK.

Hearn’s BIG cards still going ahead as planned

“I love the way that everybody is an expert virus, including me,” said Hearn. “The truth is nobody knows. It’s going to be a day by day situation that we’ve got to keep on top of and stay positive about. Right now, March 28th, April 4th, everything goes ahead. Again, all these shows that were canceled in America were done by either the government or the state of the local Athletic Commission.

“Until the British Boxing Board of Control and the government particularly, and the board will be led by the government, gives us a conclusive answer to events, everything goes ahead as planned.

“I think the short-term stuff is the real danger. I think if we started to delay the Premier League and started to delay the gathering for events, then like I say, March the 28th, April the 4th, even our Premier League might be back on April the 4th.

“It’s more concerning. We hope that Dillian Whyte-Povetkin, this event [Usyk-Chisora], and Joshua will go ahead as planned and normal. We want the confidence back with fans, and that’s why we keep saying, ‘If for any reason this event is delayed or canceled, you will get your money back,'” said Hearn.

The Matchroom cards are going ahead right now, but the Prograis-Hooker card is going to need to be moved.

Hearn wants to have contingency plans for fighters

“I wouldn’t worry so much about the sport. I’d stay invested in your mind,” said Hearn. “It’s obviously a worry for everybody. Not just for Matchroom Boxing, and the fighters, but the whole country is going to be impacted. Businesses are going to be impacted as well. The people I’m concerned with the most is the general public, but particularly the fighters.

“You’ve got fighters that have been training for 6 and 7 weeks, peaking for a moment. Particularly you’ve got Josh Kelly training for the Avanesyan fight, the fight of his career so far. Joshua Buatsi texted me last night, ‘Are we going to be OK?’ This is their livelihood.

“This is how they get paid, so we have to think about contingency plans, that’s the most important thing, but a lot of it is out of our hands, and we’ll have to act accordingly. You’ve got to be a pro right now. Some fighters are like, ‘My heads up in the air right now because of my fight.’ No excuses. My heads up in the air right now,” said Hearn.

The bigger cards involving Anthony Joshua, Dillian Whyte, and Oleksandr Usyk will be tough for Hearn to find contingency plans. Those are cards that Hearn can’t stage behind closed doors, and he can’t move all of them to Saudi.

Boxers must be disciplined 

“I’ve got eight shows that we may have to cancel, reschedule or whatever,” said Hearn. “But you just go to work, work as hard as you can, and we know we’ve got a mad situation for the whole country. If people start panicking and start taking their eye off the ball, and people start giving up, then we’re all screwed.

“You just crack on. The fighters have got to be disciplined. So right now if you’re boxing on March 28th at the O2, you’re boxing on March the 28th at the 02. Usyk isn’t going to go back to Ukraine tonight and going, ‘Actually, I won’t bother training because who knows? It might not even be on.’ May 23 is on like Donkey Kong.

“And we’ve got to make sure it goes ahead subject to the advice of the government. It’s a massive fight. So we’ll be making sure that these fighters get out, provided it’s safe for the public,” said Hearn.

It’s unlikely that Hearn will have a problem with his top fighters not training for their fights. The training won’t be easy for the fighters without them knowing for sure if their fight cards will take place or not.

Staging big fights behind closed doors not possible

“I don’t like it because of two things,” said Hearn when asked if he would be willing to do fights behind closed doors. “Number one, boxing is built on energy from those great moments where the crowd goes crazy, and everyone in the stands is singing, ‘Sweet Caroline.’ Also, the bigger shows are gate dependant in terms of the money for the shows, to pay the fighters to make sure everything gets taken care of for the undercard.

“So when you start talking about AJ, when you start talking about Usyk and when you’re talking about Dillian Whyte, the crowd is very dependent for the success of that event. We don’t know what kinds of sanctions the government will impose on live events.

“Does it got to be under 5,000? Is it got to be under 1,000? We really don’t know. If we have to stage fights behind closed doors so that we can provide content for our TV partners, and more importantly provide fights for our fighters, it’s something we’ll definitely look at. But for the bigger events financially, it doesn’t sit right for me.

“We’re a TV product and fans in the arenas. Behind closed doors doesn’t work for me unless it’s a fight where there’s only going to be 2, 3,000,” said Hearn.

The problem that Hearn has is he does things in such a big way in assembling huge cards packed with big names. Those are cards that won’t be easy to move or to stage behind closed doors.


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