27
Nov
2020

Bob Arum opens up on life in the MGM Grand ‘Bubble’, talks Nevada UFC

Bob Arum of Top Rank

📸 Mark Robinson

Top Rank boss Bob Arum has opened up on what life has been like inside the ‘Bubble’ his company has put on at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Stringent conditions are the order of the day as boxing looks to make a comeback from being wiped out completely by the coronavirus.

The sport was placed on hold in March for almost three months until testing, tracking, and quarantine was able to be implemented.

Therefore, Nevada State Athletic Commission chiefs giving the green light allowed Arum to put his plan into place.

This Tuesday night, we will see the first evidence of what pugilism looks like post-COVID-19 in the United States.

Mikaela Mayer has already been removed from the co-feature slot after testing positive for the virus. This leaves Shakur Stevenson to headline in a ten-rounder against Felix Caraballo.

The WBO featherweight competes in a non-title fight at the Grand Ballroom, which Arum calls ‘The Bubble‘.

“Well, it looks like we’re back, you know. This is a momentous occasion. Boxing is back after a three-month lapse,” said Arum.

“I’m really proud that Top Rank is the first promoter out of the box. We have a great fight on a great show on June 9, then we continue on {with} virtually two and three boxing events a week.

“Boxing is going to come back — believe me — bigger and more important than ever.

“And in this two-month period in June or July, where it looks like there won’t be any NBA, any Major League Baseball, the spotlight will be on the sport of boxing.

“With bouts that we’ve lined up, I believe that the public will once again be enthused about the competitive level in the sport.”

Top Rank Bubble MGM Grand

Asked how he was able to get a return to action over the line so quickly, Bob Arum replied: “I mean, this is not an easy job. It seems like it’s easy but my people, {Top Rank COO} Brad Jacobs and {Top Rank President} Todd duBoef, they have all really been working for months on this getting the protocols in shape.

“The testing, working with the Nevada Commission and its medical staff. I mean, this is something that nobody — at least on our end — had any experience with. So, it’s really been a work in progress, and it continues to be a work in progress.

Imagine guys come into Vegas to get into the bubble, which is a special floor at the MGM. They got to be tested there in the bubble, they’ve got to be escorted to a place to shake out and train, a place to eat.

“We have a special dining room set up in the convention center. All of this is something that none of us are used to.

“Now, we are not starting out with title fights. But we’re going to have them before long. By the third week, start doing some world title fights because there are other issues with the organizations, which we’re working out.

“So, it’s one step at a time. It’s not easy and it’s not inexpensive. For example, testing — just the testing — for coronavirus for each event will cost us in excess of $25,000. Just the testing. Plus, the rooms, the special security, the meals in the convention area.

“This is a very, very large undertaking. But obviously, it has to be done. We’ve got to get boxing started up.

“We’re going to probably be doing this perhaps for three months, for June, July, definitely, and then in August. And hopefully, by September, we’re going to start getting back to doing events with spectators with a limited capacity. That’s the second phase that we’re working on.

“And the third phase. Hopefully, by the end of the year, we’ll be doing events with virtually full capacity. But that’s down the line.

“So, I mean, this is a really big responsibility on our part to start this up, start it up on the right foot. As I said, our protocols, which we’ve been working on for months, are available to all promoters all over the world.

“There’s no competition here. We want to get everybody to do the right things necessary to get started in boxing as big as possible.”


BOB ARUM on UFC

Concluding on the UFC, which Bob Arum has been vocal on in the past. The Hall of Famer says the company now has its house in order after heading to Las Vegas themselves.

“We didn’t feel the protocols that the UFC had when they opened up Florida were adequate,” he pointed out. “But again, you have to understand that they were the first out of the box.

“So the fact that they made mistakes, you know that’s understandable.

“They now have done an event in Nevada and they’re under the same type of protocols that we are. I think it’s all good because the Nevada Commission has cleared everything, whether it’s a UFC event or a Top Rank event.

“Their interest in the safety of the participants is the same for us and now for UFC.

“So, I have to commend the State of Nevada, the governor, and the athletic commission in the type of effort and work that they’ve done to enable us to do these events on a basis of as much safety as humanly possible.”