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Boxing set for tightrope comeback

Johnriel Casimero’s triple crown world bantamweight unification fight in Las Vegas has been listed as a preferred top bout in boxing’s awaited sneak-in return to the big scene this year.

Casimero’s original April 25 showdown with sensational Japanese world champion Naoya Inoue was postponed, but has again promised to be the gem presentation by Top Rank Inc. in boxing’s planned break-in through the coronavirus pandemic.

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Grand as the Inoue-Casimero bout looms, it cannot detract from the fact that boxing will continue to walk the tightrope in a bid to regain solid footing.

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The Nevada State Athletic Commission announced it has approved two shows each by Bob Arum’s Top Rank and the UFC headed by Dana White in June.

These cards should serve as testing ground on how combat sports in Nevada could properly and safely return before settling down.

All the fights will initially be minus live attendance, with strict protocols and stringent health measures observed.

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UFC did live shows in Jacksonville, Florida, early in the month, but there’s nothing clear how it could’ve earned operational money minus a live gate.

Top Rank Inc. is similarly making a blind gamble with live fights at the empty venue in Las Vegas.

Its scheduled fights in an MGM Grand complex will be carried on ESPN, but with no live attendance.

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All told, these planned fights appear to be part of a limbering period before a big leap into the big time later this year, pandemic conditions permitting.

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Summer fights are being lined up for fighters already in the United States as well as those able to arrive in advance to properly quarantine and train.

Casimero, WBO bantamweight titlist, has decided to remain in Las Vegas, training with the sole purpose of fighting the unbeaten Inoue, the WBA and IBF bantamweight champion with a 19-0 card, including 16 KOs.

Sean Gibbons, MP Promotions president, said they’re waiting for Inoue’s passport to be stamped at the US Embassy in Japan for the exciting warrior to be able to enplane for Las Vegas. He said Casimero wanted no other foe than Inoue.

Akihiko Honda, Inoue’s chief handler, said the knockout artist called “The Monster” also wanted to fight Casimero urgently.

It promises to be a massive event, but there’s nothing clear how the expensive card could break even without a paying big audience.

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TAGS: Boxing, COVID-19 pandemic, Johnriel Casimero, Naoya Inoue
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