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Boxing returns to Mexican TV after 3-months pandemic halt

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Professional boxing is set to return to Mexican television after a three-month halt on matches due to the coronavirus pandemic, promoters said Tuesday.

The bouts are scheduled for Saturday in a television studio with no spectators.

Even under those conditions, the Mexico City boxing commission has refused to sanction the fights, citing the pandemic. Mexico has had 150,246 confirmed coronavirus cases and 17,580 deaths.

The television network TV Azteca is owned by Ricardo Salinas Pliego, who has been a vocal critic of the economic lockdown.

The top fight of the Saturday bill will feature WBO super bantam weight champion Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete.

“This is going to be something new, because this is the first time we are fighting without spectators and with out people cheering,” said Navarrete. “It will be strange, but we are going to try to ignore that and focus more on the fight.”

Mexico’s professional boxing resumed with one bout in the western state of Michoacan in early June. That bill featured IBF light middleweight champion Carlos “King” Molina, and also was fought with no spectators. But it wasn’t broadcast nationally.

Guillermo Brito, operations manager for fight promoter Zanfer, said that the company has had to suspend 12 planned bills over the last three months and that about 100 boxers have been left with no income.

The Mexico City boxing commission said it recognizes that “it is important to reactivate the economy, especially for the fighters, but even so, their health comes first.”

Brito said the promoter understands the concerns about the pandemic, “but we can reactivate this beautiful sport responsibly and with all the health measures.”

Those measures include prior coronavirus testing for fighters and all 18 personnel taping the match. One fighter who was supposed to be on the bill tested positive and her match was dropped.

For a week before the matches, all the fighters will isolate at a Mexico City hotel and only have contact with a doctor assigned to check up on them. Surfaces at the weigh-in and match will be disinfected.

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