MGM closes Las Vegas properties, Naoye Inoue fight in doubt
Asia’s best pound for pound boxer is scheduled to fight in Las Vegas for the first time on April 25th. But the bantamweight unification fight pitting Naoye Inoue against John Riel Casimero looks to be the latest in a long line of sporting events to fall victim to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
The fight is slated for the Mandalay Bay but MGM Resorts, which owns the venue, recently announced in a statement that,
“We will close all of our Las Vegas properties as of Tuesday, March 17th, for the good of our employees, guests and communities.”
Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts, explained the decision in some detail,
“As the coronavirus pandemic has intensified in the United States over the past week, the people of MGM Resorts have worked to try to find a way to continue delivering high quality hospitality and entertainment experiences for our guests while keeping our employees doing the jobs they love in a safe environment. Despite our commitment to dedicating additional resources for cleaning and promoting good health, while making difficult decisions to close certain aspects of our operations, it is now apparent that this is a public health crisis that requires major collective action if we are to slow its progression.”
He pledged to re-open at the earliest opportunity,
“We will plan to reopen our resorts as soon as it is safe to do so and we will continue to support our employees, guests, and communities in every way that we can during this period of closure.”
However it seems very doubtful that the fight between Inoue and Casimero will push through on the designated date. It looked set to be the biggest fight in recent history between two Asian boxers.
Inoue (19-0) will be putting his WBA and IBF 118lbs titles on the line while Casimero (29-4) holds the WBO bantamweight belt. The former has been training in his native Japan while the latter is currently based in Miami.
While the fight has yet to be officially removed from the calendar it is almost certain to be postponed. The UFC was also forced to shelve plans to hold a series of behind closed doors events in Las Vegas.
With so many people self isolating the potential online audience for live combat sport could be unprecedented. But restrictions on public gatherings and international travel are making it very difficult for promoters to put together fight cards.