It was not the new health measures imposed on the Quebec City region that forced Eye of the Tiger Management to postpone its April 17 gala at the Videotron Center, but the confusion about the Canadian rules on the arrival of athletes. international.
"Heritage Canada has provided exemptions for international athletes wishing to come to participate in a competition in the country, but it has nothing planned for professional athletes", explained Camille Estephan, president of EOTTM, to The Canadian Press Thursday.
If the rules are clear regarding the arrival of international amateur athletes in the country, there would be a “gray area” regarding professional athletes.
“There is obviously room for interpretation,” says Estephan. The proof is that some airlines do not interpret the rules currently in force in the same way as others. Heritage Canada apologized. "
Thus, after having obtained from the health and government authorities the necessary permissions so that foreign athletes can come and compete in Quebec - the galas presented since the start of the pandemic only gave way to Canadian boxers or who live in Canada - , these boxers were turned away even before going to the country, even if they had previously obtained visas and work permits.
This is what happened to David Lemieux's opponent (42-4-0, 35 KOs), Spaniard Ronny Landaeta (17-3-0, 11 KOs), as well than to a protégé of EOTTM, Artem Oganesyan.
Landaeta was able to take a flight from his home to Canada, but the airline that had to provide the trip between his German stopover and Montreal realized instead that he would not have the right to enter the country. As a result, she did not allow him to board the plane.
Ditto for Oganesyan (12-0, 10 KOs), who was able to leave his native Russia, but who was turned away once in Paris.
The promoter has now called on his lawyers.
"I have two lawyers who are negotiating with Public Health and border services so that the boxers we will try to bring to Quebec are in possession of a document that could clarify any doubt that may remain, he said. . We no longer want our guest boxers to be blocked at the boarding counter. "
Estephan now hopes to present this gala on May 8 or 15, dates he has reserved with the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux, in Quebec or Shawinigan.
Lemieux would always be the headliner of this gala. On the other hand, we try to find an American opponent: Landaeta not wishing to resume a training camp and risk seeing himself turned back on the way to Canada.
Simon Kean (19-1, 18 KOs) would still face American Donald Haynesworth (16-5-1, 14 KOs), his opponent scheduled for April 17.
Oganesyan, the World Boxing Organization (WBO) super welterweight title holder, will fight in Moscow on May 21 against an opponent to be identified in the coming days.
If Estephan is ever unable to bring Americans to Quebec for this gala, he will have no choice but to send his boxers to the United States.
For a year, Estephan and his group have been in constant discussions with the public authorities so that boxing can resume its activities with a semblance of normalcy. The Montreal group was the first to present a gala in the country in the midst of a pandemic, last fall, first in Shawinigan, then in Rimouski.
These evenings are the fruit of several months of close negotiations with the government and health authorities, in order to be able to relaunch professional boxing. EOTTM passed these exams with flying colors, so that Groupe Yvon Michel was able to follow suit and present a first gala last month at the Hôtel Plaza de Québec.
In any case, the two organizations had nothing to be ashamed of: no outbreak was caused by these sporting gatherings.
GYM now hopes to host a major gala in Montreal on June 18, in which Oscar Rivas and Marie-Ève Dicaire would compete in world championship fights.