The WBC could mandate vaccination in title fights
In 2020, the COVID-19 global pandemic came close to knocking the sport of boxing down for a ten count. Now, faced with the new Omicron variant outbreak, governments have felt the pushback against mandating vaccinations. WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman is considering mandating vaccination as an option, also.
BOXING BARELY SURVIVED 2020
There is no secret that the pandemic hit the boxing community hit extremely hard. Fans could not get their weekend fix as there were no fights for several months. In June 2020, promotional company Top Rank would create the Boxing Bubble to host fights, without fans, in a controlled environment for the fighters.
Related Article: COVID-19 Still Hitting Boxing Hard
However, several high-profile fighters saw their fights canceled after testing positive for the virus. That list included names like Nordine Oubaali, Miguel Berchelt, Jamel Herring, unified junior lightweight champion Mikaela Mayer, and WBC bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire.
On October 31, 2020, WBA ‘regular’ lightweight champion Gervonta Davis and WBA ‘super’ junior lightweight champion Leo Santa Cruz were the first fight with fans in attendance. It would usher in the change boxing needed going into the new year, with hopes of better things to come.
GETTING BACK TO NORMAL
As 2021 kicked off, boxing was back with fans and media in attendance. Even media day events would return, allowing boxing journalists to interact with fighters live. Things were finally back to normal, and boxing fans got their Saturday night boxing.
There were a few hiccups towards the end of the year. For example, WBC super bantamweight champion Brandon Figueroa caught the virus, canceling the unification fight with WBO champion Stephen Fulton. More fighters started testing positive, as well. Some were two-time champion David Benavidez, Conor Benn, former unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez, and multi-divisional champion Roman Gonzalez. However, except for Gonzalez, all the previously named fighters fought their respective opponents on later dates. So boxing was still in a much better place than it was a year ago.
MANDATING VACCINATIONS IN BOXING
One of the most controversial topics in the world is mandatory vaccinations. It turns a calm conversation into an all-out shouting argument among the general public. It is the most hyper-sensitive topic in the world right now, even resulting in protests. Live discussions on it being a personal choice can turn ugly very quickly.
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman is considering a way increase vaccination among fighters. In an interview with the media, he talked about the resistance they received from fighters after inquiring if they were vaccinated.
“We sent a letter to the fighters requesting their vaccination record, and we received a couple of letters by lawyers claiming that it is a private medical record.”
Equally important, he made it clear that the WBC did mandate all appointed Judges, referees, and supervisors to be vaccinated. However, he was not looking to stop there. The WBC could mandate fighters get vaccinations.
“We are considering mandating fighters fighting for the WBC title to be vaccinated.”
It will be interesting to see the response from fighters and the changes it will have on the sport, provided the WBC is successful in implementing a vaccination rule.
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By: Garrisson Bland