The suspension of professional boxing in the UK has been extended until the end of May, meaning the postponement of two big heavyweight fights: Dillian Whyte vs. Alexander Povetkin and Oleksandr Usyk vs. Dereck Chisora.
The British Boxing Board of Control had previously ruled a hiatus until the end of April, but have now added another month to the suspension.
BBBofC general secretary Robert Smith said in a statement: “We will continue to follow the Government and medical authorities’ advice and keep the situation under review and when possible explore all options available to find a way of lifting the suspension when conditions permit.”
Matchroom Boxing was to put on both cards, as well as a third in May that was to be headlined by a lightweight world title elimination bout between Australia’s George Kambosos Jr. (18-0, 10 KOs) and former featherweight world titleholder Lee Selby (28-2, 9 KOs), who is from Wales. The winner of that bout, which was to take place at Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales, was due to become the mandatory challenger for the 135-pound world title held by Teofimo Lopez. That fight was slated for May 9.
Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn said in a statement that, “subject to the developing situation,” Whyte-Povetkin will be rescheduled from May 2 to July 4 and Kambosos-Selby will be rescheduled from May 9 to July 11. A new date for Usyk-Chisora is “being worked on”; it had been scheduled for May 23.
Heavyweight contender Whyte (27-1, 18 KOs), No. 1 in line to face WBC champion Tyson Fury, recently drove from London to Portugal to set up a training camp for his fight against Russia’s Povetkin (35-2-1, 24 KOs). The fight was scheduled to take place at the Manchester Arena. The co-feature was to be one of the biggest fights that could be made in women’s boxing as undisputed lightweight world champion Katie Taylor of Ireland was slated to defend her belts against New York’s Amanda Serrano, who has won world titles in a women’s-record seven weight classes.
Ukrainian heavyweight Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs), No. 1 in line with the WBO belt, was due to face Chisora (32-9, 23 KOs) at the O2 Arena in southeast London.
Matchroom Boxing still has one more show remaining on its original schedule, but that one is also likely to be postponed. The main event of that show, slated to take place June 20 at 70,000-seat Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, would see England’s Anthony Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) make a mandatory defense against Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs).
“The health and safety of the boxers, staff, event contractors and fans involved with our events remains the top priority for Matchroom Boxing, and we thank everyone for their understanding,” Hearn said. “We look forward to bringing world-class boxing events back to these shores as soon as it is safe to do so. Our thoughts are with everybody affected by the COVID-19.”
WBA-IBF world super lightweight champion Josh Taylor’s defence against Thailand’s Apinun Khongsong — scheduled for May 2 in Glasgow — had already been postponed, and no new date has been announced.