Sports | June 15, 2020 6:00 am

How Boxing Carefully Returned to Las Vegas

The city recently hosted its first live fights in months

Shakur Stevenson v Felix Caraballo
Robeisy Ramirez celebrates defeating Yeuri Andujar in their featherweight bout at MGM Grand Conference Center Grand Ballroom on June 09, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images

How does a sport balance a return to activity with the awareness that COVID-19 is still a pressing concern? In recent weeks, we’ve seen some sports leagues return to action, while others have grappled with reopening plans and pondered further delays. Writing at The New York Times, Scott Cacciola and Kevin Draper offer a firsthand glimpse of how another sport is finding its way in an uncertain landscape.

The sport in question is boxing — specifically, a match between Robeisy Ramirez and Yeuri Andujar. It lasted all of 54 seconds, with Ramirez knocking out Andujar. But even if it wasn’t an epic bout for the ages, it still has the distinction of being the first boxing match to take place in Las Vegas in 3 months. The article’s description of the “bubble” surrounding the fight offers a blend of the familiar and the surreal:

Rigid testing protocols. Wristbands with bar codes. Security personnel who patrolled the hotel hallway and escorted fighters to a designated area for their meals. A ring-card girl who wanted to know if she should change into her “cute mask” for the prefight weigh-in, and boxers who pulled on powder-blue surgical booties before stepping onto the scale.

The bubble is a space where testing for COVID-19 occurs frequently — Cacciola and Draper mention that it takes place twice a week. Before fighting, Ramirez had been quarantined for 3 days. And masks were ubiquitous, even when the regular testing and quarantining meant that they might not have been necessary. Why? To set a good example for viewers at home.

Even without a crowd watching in person, it takes a lot of people to make a night of boxing come to fruition. Some things may have changed due to the pandemic, but that remains the same.

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