While boxing in the UK, Europe and the USA seems to be on ice until June at the very earliest, Saturday saw Nicaragua host a live fight night, with a live audience!
The event took place at the Alexis Arguello Sports Complex in Managua, Nicaragua and was promoted by former world title holder Rosendo Alvarez. Each fight on the card was watched by an audience of 800, that included current WBA super-flyweight champion Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez. The audience size of 800 was just 10% of the arena’s total 8,000 capacity, meaning social distancing measures could be kept in place. Fans were seated two seats apart and had to wear facemasks at all times. Temperatures of all fans were taken at the door and hands and shoes were disinfected upon entry.
As well as the fans, referees, judges, media crew and the ring girls were all obliged to wear face masks, as were the fighters. Although fighters were sporting masks for their entrance, they were permitted to take them off once in the ring. Several fighters withdrew from the card when it was confirmed to be going ahead, however the main event between two Nicaraguan lightweights, Robin Zamora and Ramiro Blanco, still took place.
The boxers were still legally allowed to face off without masks or any protective equipment as Nicaragua is one of the few countries in the world with no official social distancing measures in place. As there are technically no legal restrictions, boxing isn’t the only sport to have held events, as professional football and baseball matches have been staged with fans in attendance.
WBA super-flyweight champion Roman Gonzalez was subjected to the same rules as all other audience members, having his temperature taken, shoes wiped and hands disinfected before entry. He even kept his mask on at all times, including when he was interviewed by the media.
The fight night was opened by Tamara Martínez Sarantes, a Nicaraguan singer, performing the country’s national anthem. The singer was accompanied to the ring by a large number of police cadets but, curiously, wasn’t wearing a facemask. Later in the night two rappers, who accompanied one of the fighters to the ring, also weren’t wearing masks.
Comparatively speaking, Nicaragua hasn’t been too hard hit with the virus, as World Health Organisation (WHO) stats show just 12 cases and 3 deaths in the country. It is because of this that Government authorities have allowed, and even encouraged, sporting events to go ahead.
While it certainly wasn’t like any other fight night we’ve ever seen before, it gave us a glimpse into how sporting events across the world might look in the near future. Boxing in the UK seems to be at least 6 months away from live events of this nature. While UK boxing does look set to make a comeback of sorts in June or July, events will almost certainly take place behind closed doors for the first few months at least.