Boxing’s Biggest Bouts Could be 12 Months Away

Several boxing promoters and pundits have this week had their say on the likely return date of boxing as the world sits in wait amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The general consensus seems to be that, while boxing could return to the UK in some form as early as June, the big fight nights we know and love are most likely much further away.

Boxing pundit Steve Bunce has predicted that major boxing PPV events are not likely to take place until April next year at the very earliest. Speaking on his BBC Radio 5 Live show, Bunce has predicted that the risk of a second wave of the virus could put promoters off of planning anything too quickly.

In his debate with boxing correspondent Mike Costello, Bunce highlighted 3 unique challenges boxing faces, which make it harder to stage flagship fight nights:

  1. Travel: Major boxing events feature fighters from throughout the world, with promoters and training teams also to be taken into account. Flying so many people in for an event would require a major loosening of current travel restrictions.
  2. Health: While all sports come with potential health risks, there is the argument that boxing puts additional demands on health services. This could put boxing to the back of the queue when it comes to the restarting of professional sports.
  3. Business: While PPV sales do account for a decent proportion of the money made on a fight night, a significant contribution comes from live ticket sales. Without fans inside the actual arena, it’s doubtful enough money could be made to pay the fighters and everyone else involved at a major event.

 

 

The challenges faced by boxing are different in every country, but boxing promoters in the UK, mainland Europe and the USA are working together. Speaking to Sky Sports, British boxing promoter Eddie Hearn said that he and his team are working with the UK Government to bring boxing back as soon as possible, but also as safely as possible. While he concedes that major events are likely to be a long way down the line, Hearn insists that the aim is to be ready when the coast looks clear to go.

US veteran boxing veteran Bob Arum said that his team is in constant communication with Eddie Hearn, as they also plan to bring back boxing in a safe and responsible manner. While the prospect of bringing back boxing with no audiences in July looks realistic in the USA, Arum raised his concerns regarding the financial problems of staging bigger fights. The gate at the second Wilder – Fury fight took in £13.7 million dollars, which was a large part of the purse used to pay the fighters and others involved.

Arum said he couldn’t see a way to realistically replace this income, and even suggested that PPV takings could be down due to the financial hit fans will have suffered during the pandemic.

On the subject of health, German boxing promoter Kalle Sauerland has said that staging an event in the UK looks difficult due to the strain on the NHS that looks likely to continue. He went on to suggest that Germany might be ready to hold a major event sooner as the strain on their health service is not as severe.

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