Boxing action may have ground to a halt in the United Kingdom and across the world because of the coronavirus pandemic – but in Nicaragua, it is business as usual.
On Saturday night, a fight card with a difference took place in capital city Managua, with fighters sporting face masks – as did referees, judges, the media, fans and ring girls.
Boxers were allowed to remove their protective mask to fight, while those in attendance were instructed to disinfect their hands and shoes upon entry before being forced to sit a safe distance apart.
Nicaragua has not adopted social distancing measures and as a result, fighters were allowed to stand nose to nose for a traditional face-off at Friday’s weigh in, albeit while wearing masks.
Nicaraguan legend and current WBA super-flyweight champion Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez turned out to watch the fight night – and like all spectators, had his temperature checked before entering the Alexis Arguello Sports Center.
Several fighters withdrew from the card but organisers had said they wanted to send a message that the sport continues by staging the show, which offered free tickets. In the main event, Nicaraguan lightweight Robin Zamora outpointed compatriot Ramiro Blanco.
Authorities in Nicaragua have allowed sporting events – such as the country’s football season – to continue during the coronavirus pandemic. World Health Organization data shows three people have died from the virus in the Central American country.
More than 20,000 people have died from the virus in the UK, where boxing has been shut down until at least the end of May.
Some promoters hope to resume action behind closed doors but the British Boxing Board of Control has intimated the sport could take time to resume when day-to-day restrictions are lifted in the UK.
General Secretary Robert Smith has said the medical personnel needed ringside and hospital access required for fight nights must be considered when the NHS is already under strain.