The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected sport all over the world. Boxing is one of the sports that has been affected and the coming months are going to very problematic for both promoters and boxers.
Boxing has a busy schedule with fights taking place all over the world on a continual basis. It’s big business of course with fighters receiving massive paydays, especially those involved in title fights. The big question at present is what will happen to the boxing calendar?
The biggest problem at present is the fact that no one knows when this crisis is going to end. Over the past few days, the British government has made several announcements aimed at dealing with the pandemic. This has included action against social gatherings and that has caused a headache for Matchroom.
They have already announced that their shows due to take place in March and April have been postponed or have their scheduled bouts merged into other shows. The important issue here is safety and the British Boxing Board of Control has ordered all events to be postponed.
It’s not just the audience who have been urged to self-isolate or employ social distancing. There is also the question of the safety of the boxers and whether doctors will be able to be present at events. The health service is under great pressure, do they need to also be dealing with injured boxers?
Matchroom also promote in the USA and have postponed an event due to be held there in the coming weeks. Golden Boy Promotions regularly hold events in the USA but are also following advice and postponing upcoming shows. It’s the same for the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) promotion with their scheduled March and April shows postponed.
Could they hold their shows behind closed doors and stream them live? It’s an idea that has probably been discussed but nothing has been announced. The recent Olympic Boxing qualifiers in London went down that route. The British Boxing Board of Control has revealed that they have had requests to hold shows without the presence of a live audience.
You can bet your bottom dollar that those requests haven’t been coming from Matchroom. Promoter Eddie Hearn isn’t a fan because “boxing is a sport that is built on that energy” and that includes everyone singing ‘Sweet Caroline’ out of tune. It’s not just about the only Neil Diamond song most boxing fans know, money is a major issue here.
Hearn says that the shows with major fights taking place are “gate dependant” with so much money to be paid out. He’ll be hoping the situation eases before the scheduled Joshua v Pulev world heavyweight title fight scheduled for June. That looks in doubt at present, but Hearn wouldn’t dream of holding it without a live audience and relying on streaming it instead. Keeping as many people safe must be the priority at the moment though.