GOTV Boxing Night 21, originally slated for Easter Sunday, April 12, has been postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19, according to organizers Flykite Productions.
The six-bout card was to be held at the Indoor Sports Hall of the National Stadium in Lagos.
Bamidele Johnson, Chief Operating Officer of Flykite. said the postponement was inevitable.
“I think it’s obvious to everybody that life is more important than any sport,” Johnson told BoxingAfrica.com. “Major sporting and entertainment events around the world have been put on hold in a bid to curtail the spread of the virus and we cannot pretend that we do not know about this.
As such, the proper thing to do was to announce the postponement after consultations with boxing stakeholders and our sponsors who agreed that the show should not go on now that there are fears of the virus around world.
“Given that the event is one that gathers a lot of people in one venue, we don’t think it’s proper to have gone ahead as social distance have been advised. It’s in recognition of the health of fans, health of boxers and health of the Society at large.”
Remi Aboderin, Secretary of Nigeria Boxing Board of Control (NBBofC) and President of the West Africa Boxing Union (WABU), agreed with Johnson, citing health concerns.
“It’s sincerely a bad situation that the world has found itself with this COVID 19 issue,” he said. “It’s not helping sporting activities across the globe, but since it’s the issue of the health of all, that’s the main thrust and concern of authorities in postponing sporting activities.
“We just have to go along with governmental intervention as you know boxing won’t be appealing without the crowd and corona spread fast where people are gathered so we wait till the coronavirus is swept away.”
Some of the boxers expressed their disappointment at the cancellation.
Main event fighters, Rilwan “Real One” Oladosu (13-0, 6 KOs) and Ghana’s Emmanuel “Akuffo-Addo” Quartey (23-2, 20 KOs), were to slug it out for the vacant World Boxing Federation (WBF) International lightweight title verbally jabbed at each other in separate phone interviews with BoxingAfrica.com.
“I am really sad but Quartey should count himself lucky that coronavirus has helped postpone his days of merciless beaten in the ring,” said Oladosu. “Well, the date is only postponed, not cancelled, so he would still come for his beaten whenever the fight comes up.” T
Quartey, the former Ghana super flyweight champion, Quartey quipped from his Accra base:
“I am so disappointed hearing of the postponement because I was already preparing to travel to Nigeria to deal with that fake one that calls himself ‘Real One.’ I wanted to go down to Nigeria and beat him up and take the title back to Ghana.
“We have already planned on how to present the belt to my President, Nana Akuffo-Addo, but let’s win this war against coronavirus and I will do the deed whenever the fight is rescheduled.
“I will not stop my training as I want to be ready for him anytime the fight is fixed.”
West African welterweight champion, Rilwan ‘Babyface’ Babatunde (11-0, 6 KOs), who was to face former ABU welterweight champion ‘Omari’ Mkalekwa (14-8, 4 KOs) of Tanzania for the vacant WBF Africa welterweight title, said he is sad, having put in so much work and personal finance in preparing.
“This postponement has hit me below the belt because I have put in so much in preparing,” said Babatunde. “But then one thing is that we must be in good health to fight and this concerns health and I can’t blame my promoter for the postponement.
“We live to fight another day. Omari should count himself lucky but this is like postponing his doomsday visit to Nigeria.”
No new date was immediately announced by the promoters.
“A new date will be announced when things are clearer,” said Flykite’s Johnson. “We cannot say exactly when and I don’t think anyone can say when the virus stops spreading.”
The GOtv Boxing Night series, held three to four times annually, has been the most consistent boxing event in Nigeria since 2014.
–Ralph Chidozie George, Twitter: @ralphcgeorge