Tonight the Manchester Arena will remain eerily quiet. The silence is broken only by the sound of near-empty trains arriving and departing from the nearby Victoria Station.
It ought to have been one of the great nights in the professional career of Katie Taylor. Alas, Covid-19 changed everything.
The long-anticipated women’s super-fight between the undisputed lightweight world champion from Bray and Puerto Rican-born, Brooklyn-based Amanda Serrano was to have graced the 21,000 capacity venue.
After months of wrangling, the official announcement, from promoter Eddie Hearn, that the fight was on was overshadowed by news that the coronavirus virus had been detected in Italy. It was no surprise when word subsequently came through that the fight would have to be rescheduled.
It was originally rescheduled for July 4 but promoter Hearn has now revealed it is now not likely to take place until later in July or early August.
But he still plans to have it on the same bill as the heavyweight showdown between Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin.
Hearn commented: “I can tell you that Whyte vs Povetkin is one of the fights we are planning to stage in the early part of the return.
“It will take place behind closed doors, I don’t know how we’re going to do it but we’ll do it.
“We have to come back with a bang and Whyte against Povetkin is a fight, along with Katie Taylor against Amanda Serrano, that we will see at the end of July or early August.”
There are specific issues in terms of the Taylor v Serrano fight, as both fighters are based in the US. Serrano lives in Brooklyn, while the Bray pugilist is based in Vernon, Connecticut where her trainer Ross Enamait resides.
Connecticut has been badly hit by the virus. According to the New York Times, there have been 28,764 confirmed cases with 2,339 deaths. In Tolland County, where Vernon is situated, there have been 446 cases with 38 deaths.
The chances are that by July both the UK and the US will have lifted some of the current restrictions, leaving boxers and their respective entourages free to travel to Manchester. But unless president Donald Trump lifts the ban on non-US citizens travelling to the States, Taylor could have difficultly getting back into the country after the fight.
For the moment it’s all in the realm of speculation, though it is ironic that many in the boxing world have been predicting for years that the Taylor v Serrano showdown would never take place.
There is a view that Serrano, who has won a record nine world titles across seven weight divisions, will ultimately baulk at the idea of putting her reputation on the line against Taylor.
Meanwhile, Taylor has installed a gym downstairs in a house she recently purchased in Connecticut and is working away on her own. In a recent twitter post she exhibited her football skills by successfully juggling a 5lb medicine ball.
Being effectively cocooned doesn’t bother her in the slightest. In a conversation with promoter Hearn on Instagram Live she said: “I feel like my whole life has been in quarantine.
“I said to my family: ‘You realise you’ve already been in isolation so much when you have to go into quarantine and nothing about your personal life changes’.
“I’ve obviously been over here for a few months training for May 2. But this is just the time for me, now to work on a few things.
“This isn’t a time for anyone to take their foot off the gas. It’s going to pay off for the fighters who are disciplined right now. These are the times when it actually makes the difference, I feel.
“You can turn this into a positive and actually try to work on a few things. And when the boxing world does come back, I’m going to be one of the fighters who was disciplined and I’m going to be ready,” she said.
The stakes will be high if and when Taylor and Serrano do clash. “It is a dangerous fight for both of us, and career-changing for both of us. Whoever wins this fight is cemented at No 1 in women’s boxing,” acknowledged Taylor.
Unlike her unification fight against Delfine Persoon last year in Madison Square Garden, Taylor doesn’t want to leave any doubts this time around.
Taylor beat Persoon on a majority decision, though many pundits believed that the fight should have been scored a draw.
Serrano has a more powerful punch than Taylor, as is evident by her superior knockout record. She has ended all but ten of her 38 fights inside the distance, giving her a 70 per cent knockout rate. By contrast Katie’s rate is 40 – only six of her 15 fights have ended early.
But Taylor is a better all-round boxer, though it will be interesting to see how she copes with Serrano’s southpaw style.
In the pro ranks Taylor’s only fight against a southpaw was when she won the vacant WBA world lightweight belt in 2017 against Nina Meinke.
But for now it’s a question of waiting and hoping that the spread of the Covid-19 virus is halted over the next six weeks to allow something resembling normal life to resume.