With shows being canceled at an alarming rate, there now stands the likelihood of a number of previously scheduled bouts not making the cut once the sport is able to resume at full strength.
Included among that lot is the voluntary title defense planned by David Benavidez, who could be forced to enter straight into a mandatory title defense.
The hope for now is for the unbeaten super middleweight titlist to still enjoy a hometown homecoming, though now at a date to be determined. Benavidez was due to headline one of three shows which Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) formally postponed on Monday in light of the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, with his voluntary title defense versus Roamer Alexis Angulo to have topped a Showtime-televised tripleheader on April 18 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Efforts are being made to reschedule the show at a later date as this goes to publish. Several discussions are currently underway involving Benavidez, event promoters, the WBC and the Arizona Boxing & MMA Commission, all of whom declined comment given that the development is still fresh and with the primary intention of establishing a firm contingency plan.
Benavidez (22-0, 19KOs) was initially required to make a mandatory defense versus Turkey's Avni Yildirim (21-2, 12KOs), as per the terms established by the World Boxing Council (WBC). The agreement allowed for Benavidez to face then-titlist Anthony Dirrell, with the winner due to face Yildirim.
The first step went through without a hitch, as Benavidez defeated Dirrell via 9th round stoppage last September in Los Angeles. He was prepared to make his mandatory defense earlier this year, but a scheduling change and a minor injury suffered by Yildirim compromised those plans. It provided a path for Benavidez to enter a voluntary title defense with the promise to revisit his mandatory obligation immediately thereafter.
Recent events could revert this matter back to the original game plan, although such details will materialize in the coming days.
Along with Benavidez's title defense, two more bouts from the show are now displaced for the moment: a 10-round lightweight clash between Dominican Republic's rising blue-chip prospect Michel Rivera (18-0, 12KOs) and Mexico's Marcos Villasana Jr. (25-6, 14KOs); and a junior welterweight interim title fight between former two-division beltholder Rances Barthelemy (27-1-1, 14KOs) and unbeaten Dominican contender Alberto Puello (17-0, 9KOs).
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox