Boxing

Pacquiao Leads List of Fighters Still Stalled By Covid-19

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There’s no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic threw the boxing world for a major loop. Now, just about ten months into the ordeal, most high-profile fighters have returned to the ring, competing under the “new normal.” Most tried to wait out the ordeal, but when it became clear that this would be a long-term ordeal, they swallowed some pride (and made some financial sacrifices) to come back.

Some, however, have yet to come back.

Whether it was due to scheduling conflicts, illness, or an unwillingness to fight under conditions that outlawed or scaled back in-person attendance, these 10 big names have yet to return to the ring– and the boxing world feels the absence.

Manny Pacquiao

The Filipino icon last fought in July of 2019, when he defeated Keith Thurman via split decision. The pandemic, combined with his duties as Senator in his native country have kept him from active ring duty. At 42, time is of the essence for him, but his duties as Senator will keep him from the ring until at least April. Bouts with Conor McGregor and Mikey Garcia are rumored, but he can pretty much pick any opponent he chooses.

Tyson Fury

“The Gypsy King” battered and stopped Deontay Wilder to capture the WBC heavyweight title in the last big fight before the pandemic shutdown. That was in February. Eleven months later, there are rumors of a unification with Anthony Joshua and a rematch with Wilder, but nothing concrete has been announced.

Deontay Wilder

“The Bronze Bomber” was steamrolled by Tyson Fury in the last major fight before the Covid shutdown and, other than the briefest push to activate his rematch clause in the Fury contract, nothing appears to be in the works for the heavy-handed former champ.

Keith Thurman

“One-time” accounted well for himself in his split decision loss to Manny Pacquiao in July of 2019. Nothing’s been booked for him since then, although he’s made some rumbling about a return to the ring. The 32-year-old, however, has suffered through lots of inactivity over the last few years of his career.

Dmitry Bivol

The WBA light heavyweight champ last fought in October of 2019, shutting out an overmatched Lenin Castillo in a walk-in-the-park title defense. There are no plans currently in place for a return to the ring, although some media dust has been kicked up about a possible bout with former super middleweight champ Gilberto Ramirez.

Mikey Garcia

The four-division world champ was last seen defeating Jessie Vargas via unanimous decision in late February. He continues to pine away for a big bucks bout with Manny Pacquiao as he continues to campaign in the welterweight division.

Artur Beterbiev

Beterbiev looked outstanding in adding the WBC light heavyweight title to his IBF title with a TKO victory over Oleksandr Gvozdyk in October of 2019. A planned return to the ring later this month was nixed when he tested positive for Covid-19. Reportedly back in the gym now, the 35-year-old is preparing himself for a bout in the not-too-distant future.  

Andy Ruiz Jr.

The former three-belt heavyweight champ last competed in December of 2019, when he was shut out by a vengeance-minded Anthony Joshua. Ruiz had scored the upset of the year in beating Joshua just six months prior. There’s been some buzz about a comeback bout against Chris Arreola, but nothing has been set in stone yet.

Demetrius Andrade

The WBO middleweight champ last fought in January of 2020, but has yet to step back in the ring. “Boo Boo” has called out both Billy Joe Saunders and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez for fights in 2021.

Jarrett Hurd

The former WBA/IBF world junior middleweight champ last competed in January of 2020, turning in an uneven performance in beating Francisco Santana via unanimous decision. There’s yet to be even a hint of a rumor about who Hurd may be facing next or when he may come back.

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Paul Magno has over forty years of experience in and around the sport of boxing and has had his hand in everything, from officiating to training. As a writer, his work has appeared in several online publications, including Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports, FightHype, Max Boxing, Boxing.com, Inside Fights, The Boxing Tribune, The Queensberry Rules, and Premier Boxing Champions. You can reach him at: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com