It was set to be an historic night on December 11 for Bahamian boxer turned trainer Sherman ‘Tank’ Williams and his protégé Denmark’s Sarah Mahfoud in Las Vegas, Nevada, but instead, the duo will have to wait.
Mahfoud, the International Boxing Federation’s (IBF) Female World Featherweight Champion, was set to take on Puerto Rico’s Amanda Serrano who is the holder of the World Boxing Council’s (WBC) featherweight title. The Bahamian and Danish were looking to make history, unifying the two titles.
The same could be said of Serrano, but that fight and the other bouts on the card have been put off by the Nevada Athletic Commission due to the recent spike in COVID-19-positive cases in the United States of America (USA), in particular Nevada.
“To get the news that the Nevada Athletic Commission decided to cancel, immediately, this boxing match and all further UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and other boxing matches for the year, was definitely devastating,” Williams said.
This announcement came on the heels of the female boxers signing the contracts, registering for their credentials and signing an agreement regarding the rules of the ‘bubble’ – the protected venue for the event. The ‘bubble’ was under the UFC’s COVID-19 rules.
“Upon arrival in Las Vegas, we would have had to take a test, head straight to the hotel for a second test, then we would have had to quarantine until we got the test results back the next day. Every day afterwards for the seven days in quarantine, there would be a test as well as we wouldn’t have been allowed to go out to restaurants or casinos, and we would only have access to one designated gym in the ‘bubble’,” Williams stated. “We had already signed our rights to be in the ‘bubble’ because we just wanted to get the fight done. So, when we got the word that the event was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, high cases in Nevada, it was disappointing and shocking.”
Despite being disappointed, Williams said he understands the upheaval that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused globally. Financially, it has been crippling to economies worldwide and sports has struggled significantly. Williams said fighters and promoters are feeling the squeeze economically.
“I don’t think there is a place on this earth where somebody hasn’t been affected physically, mentally, socially and definitely economically,” Williams said. “This is definitely an economic blow and not just for the fighters who were looking forward to winning a championship and having pay days, but also for the promoters. Seven days of training camps need to be paid for, and the planning for these events, airline tickets and the whole cost, is astronomical.”
One of the silver linings for Mahfoud and Williams is that they have more time to prepare for the fight. Williams said he has faith in God and when the opportunity arises next year, they will be much better and sharper.
“Sarah is going to stay in the gym, stay in shape. We just have to wait and see. At this point, we’ll be maintaining her condition for the rest of the year and God’s willing, January or February, we will bring something new,” Williams said.
Serrano is a southpaw. Williams said he put Mahfoud’s orthodox technique up against sparring partner Carly Skelly out of Liverpool, England, last week. Skelly is also a southpaw.
“Last week, the last two sparring sessions were perfect. Sarah (Mahfoud) was getting her jab off, moved to her left and successfully doubled up on her straight right-hand punch, right cross and right uppercut,” Williams pointed out. “Sarah knocked her sparring partner down twice in the last session. I felt good about it. After six weeks, I could see the progress, and her weight was down. She was down to 59 kilograms (130 pounds) and she needed to be at 57 kilograms (125 pounds) for the fight, coming down from 60 kilograms (132 pounds), so, she had two kilograms to go, being four weeks away from the fight,” Williams said.
The Bahamian who has been an ambassador for his country for years, was confident in Mahfoud’s ability to win the fight. He is hopeful that the COVID-19 cases will go into a decline in the US and that the fight is rescheduled for early 2021.