COVID-19 has meant that no fans have been able to attend boxing cards in the UK for the whole of 2021 so far.
Saturday night’s Matchroom Boxing show, headlined by Derek Chisora against Joseph Parker, took place at a deserted AO Arena in Manchester – a venue that would usually hold approximately 20,000 fans for a pay-per-view card.
It has become a familiar and depressing sight for everyone involved in the sport.
While the UK government is still insisting on a cautious approach where live sporting events are concerned, things are a little different across the other side of the Atlantic.
This weekend saw the heavyweight clash between Andy Ruiz Jr and Chris Arreola take place at California’s Dignity Health Sports Park. The bout was capped at 33% capacity, which meant that a total of 3,940 fans were in attendance.
Although that number is relatively small when compared with other fights in the COVID era (15,000 attendees saw Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez dismantle Avni Yildirim at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium back in February), there were still a number of disturbances during the Ruiz Jr vs Arreola card.
Boxing insider Mike Coppinger tweeted out footage of several audience brawls, together with the caption: “And boxing is back in SoCal! They are slugging it out in the stands!!”
Former WBC light middleweight champion Sergio Mora shared his own video of scuffles in the crowd, declaring there to be “Fights EVERYWHERE”.
The unrest in the audience was eventually sorted out by security before Ruiz Jr outpointed Arreola in the main event of the evening.
In excess of 60,000 people are expected at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas for next weekend’s super middleweight world championship unification clash between Canelo Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders. Boxing’s governing bodies will be hopeful that there is no continuation of the scenes shared on social media on Saturday night.
Boxing, like the vast majority of sports, benefits tremendously from having live fans in attendance. Scraps between fans at fights are nothing new and, unfortunately, will never be fully eradicated.
However, at this time, the sport really needs everyone involved to do all they can to try and bring fans back into arenas safely.
With everything else that boxing has working against it at the moment, scenes like we saw at the Ruiz Jr vs Arreola card really do nobody any favours.
Hopefully, these incidents prove to be a one-off moving forward.