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WBC sets up officiating via video

World Boxing Council (WBC) President Mauricio Sulaiman expects professional boxing to return without spectators and with judges officiating by video from home.

Sulaiman said the WBC has produced a protocol for fights during the coronavirus pandemic that limit, for instance, a four-fight card to about 40-50 people at a venue. Those numbers include one handler for each fighter, boxing commission supervisors, media and TV production crews.

“The judges will be judging from their home via access to the live video,” Sulaiman said by video-conference.

“The video we would have without commentary of the television network so it’s a clean international feed. They are in secure communication. The judges score the round, it gets fed into the system administration. It gets to the supervisor and the local commission. There is a contingency plan for failure of connections. So we have Plan A, Plan B and Plan C.”

All people at the venue would be tested for COVID-19.

“We all are tired of watching TV, and old fights. I do really think that with responsibility, taking all the precautions with a very well-prepared protocol, we could have boxing events again without any risk,” he said.

Sulaiman believed it could be up to two years before pro boxing looks like as it was, and urged promoters “to be pioneers with ideas.”

He said the WBC will be flexible on dates for champions having to take mandatory challenges.

For example, Nordine Oubaali was set to defend his bantamweight title against Nonito Donaire, a four-weight champ. A purse bid was accepted and only a date and American venue were to be finalized before boxing was shut down.

“Oubaali lives in France and he has been in an apartment, completely in lockdown for 40 to 50 days. No sparring, no training,” Sulaiman said. “That’s a different scenario from a fighter who could be in the United States or Mexico with sparring [privileges], with training and full facilities. We’re going to work together with them, with the promoters. [Oubaali] might not be able to travel for three or four months. There is no mandate from the WBC that will hurt any person, any fighter, any promoter.”

But International Boxing Federation lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez said he was prepared to further delay his unification bout with WBC-World Boxing Association-World Boxing Organization champ Vasiliy Lomachenko—originally scheduled for May 30—until fans were allowed to fill venues because fights without spectators “won’t work” at stopping boxers contracting the virus.

“It won’t work. That’s why I feel like one fighter will probably get it during those times that they are trying to entertain the fans,” Lopez said through video-conference from Arkansas. Lopez thinks it’s too soon. “I’m not going to fight without seeing what’s really going on,” Lopez aid. “I want to make sure that no fighter is getting infected, no fighter is getting the coronavirus and everything. I want to see firsthand how it works. If it does go smoothly, like they planned that it will be, then we could talk about having a fight without the fans.” AP

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