Boxing should answer the bell and return to the ring

The UFC has gone.

Boxing, you’re on deck.

On Saturday, UFC became the first major American sport to hold a live event since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in mid-March. In Jacksonville, Florida—a state that has deemed pro sports essential, effectively opening it up for business—the combat sports company held UFC 249, an 11-fight card headlined by Justin Gaethje’s lightweight win over Tony Ferguson.

The result: A relatively seamless, albeit different, event.

For weeks, White had been the subject of intense criticism for his decision to push forward with live events during the pandemic. An April show was scuttled after California officials complained to ESPN, UFC’s broadcast partner, about the event. As White went ahead with this one, the hits came from everywhere. Former UFC star Mark Hunt accused White of not caring about fighters’ health. Hall of Fame boxing promoter Bob Arum called White’s action “cowboy behavior” and declared he “had very little respect” for White. Media challenged White’s decision to put on a show.

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