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Dublin: 5°C Saturday 27 February 2021

Katie Taylor's showdown with Amanda Serrano set to be postponed

Confirmation will be made this week, with promoter Eddie Hearn set to hit pause on all boxing events until the summer at least.

Katie Taylor jabs Christina Linardatou.
Katie Taylor jabs Christina Linardatou.
Image: Gary Carr/INPHO

KATIE TAYLOR WILL, as expected, have to wait a while longer to finally face rival Amanda Serrano, with promoter Eddie Hearn set to postpone his entire 2 May event in Manchester as the UK attempts to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

The women’s superfight between the Irish icon and the Puerto Rican seven-weight champion has been two years in the making, and is currently scheduled to take place as the co-main event to Dillian Whyte’s heavyweight showdown with Alexander Povetkin at the Manchester Arena.

Matchroom Boxing will postpone the show this week, however, with Hearn confirming that both of his Sky Sports Box Office fight nights scheduled for May — the other being Oleksandr Usyk’s heavyweight clash with Dereck Chisora — are likely to be pushed back until further notice.

The Essex promoter also confirmed that Anthony Joshua’s world-title defence against Kubrat Pulev at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on 20 June is “up in the air” and will — public health pending — be pushed back to 25 July at the same venue if necessary.

Asked firstly as to whether it was unlikely that Matchroom’s May fights, which include Taylor-Serrano, will take place as scheduled, Hearn told IFL: “Yeah, I think so. We’ll make an official announcement this week regarding those two shows but right now, I think the chances of boxing certainly in early May, anyway, are very limited. Even in May at all. And even, maybe, in June.

“It’s not just about a period being over or quarantine being over and then we just go, ‘Okay! Right, Saturday night — who’s coming?’ It’s going to take time for people to gain confidence, gain trust, want to go out again. People are going to be desperate to watch sport — I’m sure everyone is the same but I want football, I want boxing, I want everything. Sport is such a big part of our lives, isn’t it? But it’s still got to be the right time.

“And I do think the evolution of the comeback will be studio shows, maybe even closed-door shows, maybe some small-hall shows, and then going into the big stuff. I think it’s going to be very difficult for 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 then we just say, ‘Okay, here’s a new date for a show.’ It’s going to take time.

“We have to think on our feet, be creative. We’ll make an announcement on the decision on our May shows this week, and then as the weeks pass after that, we’ll look at 20 June with AJ, and if the Premier League season is extended we’ll move that back to the end of July.

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eddie-hearn Eddie Hearn. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

“But no one knows,” Hearn added. “We might not be able — we might not have boxing this year. I think that’s unlikely, but what do I know? We don’t know, do we?

Right now, best-case scenario is that boxing resumes in June. I think that’s the best-case scenario. More realistic scenario: July. Possible scenario: September, October, November, January, February… That’s why it’s so important to listen and act and try to do the right thing now, to try and get on top of this as soon as possible.

“I hope that by June, there will be events taking place. I’m very confident that by July, there will be events taking place. The reality is that if we’re not up and running again by July, not just boxing, but other sports, some of these sports may never bounce back.

“There’ll be fighters, there’ll be broadcasters, there’ll be promotional companies that you may never see again.”

Hearn reiterated that he will consider the possibility of behind-closed-doors shows upon consultation with the British Boxing Board of Control, and confirmed he has already booked a studio in Stratford in the anticipation that it may be required for the staging of fights.

He said it’s unlikely, however, that box-office events such as Whyte-Povetkin, Usyk-Chisora and Joshua-Pulev will take place in an empty room, suggesting studio shows as a method for less financially secure boxers — who are self-employed and therefore not entitled to have 80% of their earnings paid by the government — to keep food on the table during a trying time.

Of the human impact of the virus, he added: “Right now, as much as we love sport, and as much as I talk about business, it’s all irrelevant when we’re talking about life and death. We’re talking about our country and the risk of this disease ripping through and doing what it’s done in Italy. It’s all very well looking at Italy and saying, ‘Bloody hell’, but it’s not that far away, you know. And if you look at the trend, if you look at the numbers, it’s not dissimilar.

You go from that period of wanting to make sure the business is okay — ‘we’ve got to get through this, let’s plan this and plan that’ — to making sure your family is okay. Fuck the business for a minute — let’s make sure we get through this with all of our loved ones and all of the people we care about safe. And when we get through it, then we focus our mind back on the business.

“But for me particularly, I can’t do that. Of course, my first priority is making sure the family is safe, but I’m sitting there at night, my mind is going 10 to the dozen thinking about how we’re going to come back from this and what we’re going to do and where we’re going to go and what the date’s going to be and who’s going to fight who.”

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