Top Rank Boxing will have a new main event for their Thursday night broadcast on ESPN. Mikkel LesPierre’s manager tested positive for COVID-19 and due to the protocol set by the Nevada Athletic Commission the bout was canceled. The new main event will be a lightweight bout between Gabriel Flores Jr. and Josec Ruiz.
“We had no choice in the matter because this is the commission’s protocol via the contact tracing,” Top Rank COO Brad Jacobs told Yahoo Sports. LesPierre’s manager tested positive for COVID-19 after Wednesday’s weigh-in, his second test after testing negative when he was checked in on June 14. Top Rank has what has been called a “bubble” environment at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and part of the protocol for safety requires the removal of the bout.
In a press release from Top Rank LesPierre said he was, “devastated.” He added, “This was my opportunity to showcase my talent to the world, but everything happens for a reason. This is just another roadblock in my story.” LesPierre also wanted to apologize to his opponent Jose Pedraza. “I apologize to Jose and his team for any inconvenience this caused,” He said in the statement, “He is a great boxer, and I hope we can reschedule the fight as soon as possible.”
This is not the first Top Rank bout canceled due to COVID-19. Mikaela Mayer also had her bout cancelled earlier this month when she tested positive, and even though she was retested and came back with a negative result according to ESPN, she still lost out on an opportunity to compete. Top Rank president Todd duBoef said in Mayer’s case that they would rather, “Err on the conservative side rather than be more liberal and I’m putting people at risk.”
Top Rank’s card airs on ESPN at 8PM EST/ 5PM Pacific.