Boxing makes its return to Las Vegas

Shakur Stevenson is treated in his corner during his June 9 super featherweight bout against Felix Caraballo (not pictured) at MGM Grand Conference Center Grand Ballroom in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images)

Boxing made its major North American return from the Covid-19 pandemic on June 9 as Shakur Stevenson scored a sixth-round knockout over Felix Caraballo in a super featherweight bout held at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The match, shown on ESPN, featured a variety of social distancing controls and was staged without attending fans. Other precautions included no fighter face-offs at weigh-in, social distancing for judges and ring announcers, and face masks for many support personnel.

“It’s a different atmosphere,” Stevenson said. “Losing the weight was different. Training in general was different. Fighting without a crowd, I was catching him with mean shots and you don’t hear ‘Ooohs or ‘Aahs.’ ”

Stevenson and Caraballo headlined a five-night fight card in boxing’s key locale and presented by Top Rank that also featured a series of decisive outcomes.

Las Vegas had not played host to a boxing event since February 22, when heavyweight Tyson Fury scored a seven-round knockout over Deontay Wilder. 

Stevenson also wore a Black Lives Matter t-shirt during his post-fight interview and says with the fight now complete he will become more active protesting for racial justice.

“My people right now, they’re protesting and there’s a lot going on in our community, a lot of people trying to stand up for what’s right,” Stevenson said. “I couldn’t really go out there and protest with them because I had a fight coming up and I didn’t want to risk catching corona. Now that the fight is over, I’ll go out there and protest. Mask up, gloved up, I’ll go out there and help my people out.”