Shakur Stevenson gets boxing back underway behind closed doors in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
The WBO featherweight champion was two days from defending his belt on March 14 when the fight was pulled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He returns in a gentle 10-rounder at junior lightweight. Felix Caraballo is not the challenge here. The bill is effectively a dress rehearsal to test how best to proceed.
We will be watching closely on this side of the pond, where there is growing anticipation about a return to the ring in July.
The British Boxing Board of Control has yet to give the nod to start sparring, but we are in daily contact and a number of promoters are in talks about shows. It’s going to be different, that’s for sure.
Only the fighters and key team members plus event staff and medics will be allowed on site.
The absence of a crowd will doubtless change the atmosphere but that shouldn’t be too much of a concern for the boxers.
They do most of their work behind closed doors in the gym. Indeed some of their best, most intense work is done in sparring in front of a handful of people.
Some fighters struggle to replicate that form in front of a crowd. The atmosphere can stifle and inhibit performance.
Others absolutely feed off the sense of occasion in the big arenas.
For those with deep amateur backgrounds it will be like going back in time.
Even at the biggest international events boxers fought in largely empty arenas during the preliminary rounds.
We shall all have to adapt to the new protocols.
And fighters will have to adjust to the new economic circumstances.
Those at the top of the market fighting for world titles on pay-per-view shows will still make a bob or two, but small hall shows are gone for now. Fighters have been keeping themselves in decent shape as far as lockdown allowed.
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But the real work cannot begin until sparring restarts.
The BBBC has rarely been busier, working every hour to put the right protocols in place to ensure the safety of the fighters.
Everyone will have to be tested and once sparring starts, maintain bio-secure environments. It’s a huge challenge but boxing is determined to get it right. Matchroom have unveiled ambitious plans to set up in the grounds of their Essex HQ.
That’s one way of doing it.
The fighters are ready, anticipation is growing. We are just waiting for the green light.
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