By Mark Eisner: In further bad news on Wednesday, Top Rank has decided to postpone its March 14 and March 17 cards after consulting with the New York State Athletic Commission as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
(Photo credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Boxing)
This Saturday’s March 14 card headlined by Shakur Stevenson vs. Miguel Marriaga and March 19 card next Tuesday headlined by Michael Conlan vs. Belmar Preciado will NOT take place on those dates. Instead, both cards will be postponed until a later date.
Top Rank will be meeting with the New York Commission to determine when the cards can take place under safe conditions. Once that happens, then the fights will be rescheduled.
Before this update, the March 14 and March 17th cards were to take place behind closed doors with no fans present for either fight cards. This was a move that was done out of safety to prevent the potential of an ill person spreading the coronavirus potentially to other members of the audience or the fighters and/or their teams. This a move to protect not only the fighters but their teams and the promoters of the event.
It’s possible Top Rank could try and reschedule for April, but that would only happen if the threat from the coronavirus has decreased. That’ll be determined by the Commission. ESPN will need to work with Top Rank to find a date for these two cards when they are given permission for them go-ahead by the Commention.
This has got to be a big disappointment for WBO featherweight champion Stevenson (13-0, 7 KOs). He was supposed to be making his first defense of his WBO title that he captured last October in defeating Joet Gonzalez by a 12 round decision. The 2016 Olympic silver medalist Stevenson, 22, wants to become a big star in the sport of boxing, and he needs to fight as often as possible to create a huge fan base.
He already had a strike against him in that he was fighting a guy in Marriaga (29-3, 25 KOs) that had been soundly beaten by Nicholas Walters, Oscar Valdez and Vasiliy Lomachenko. None of those fights were close, and the only way that Stevenson could top what those fighters did is if he knocked out Marriaga early. Stevenson isn’t a big puncher, so he probably would have needed to go the full 12 round distance. Again, there wasn’t much for Stevenson to gain from the Marriaga fight.
Featherweight prospect Conlan (13-0, 7 KOs) was also in a tough position ni facing the unheralded Belmar Preciado (20-2-1, 13 KOs) on March 17. This was a step down for Conlan from his last fight against Vladimir Nikitin last December. Like Stevenson, Conlan wasn’t pleased after finding out that he’d fighting behind closed doors on March 17 without fans being present. Now that the fight card has been postponed, Conlan no longer has to worry about it. He’ll still probably face Preciado, but he’ll learn something from the fight.