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‘The stress of small hall boxing is incredible’

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James Chance/Getty Images
Staging a good small hall show is harder than ever before. Carl Greaves explains why

PUTTING on a small hall boxing show is not the problem, it’s matching the fighters that’s the hard part. On the one hand I want to make the right fights for my fighters, those kids who have not seen any action for so long because of the pandemic. But I also have a duty to the fans attending, to actually make the fights good to watch. At the moment, and I think I can speak for most small hall promoters, the quality simply isn’t good enough because there aren’t enough good opponents available.

Last week, for a show I was promoting in Newark, I started out with seven fights. It ended up going ahead with just three. Two fighters dropped out with injury and medical issues. Then another two fights had to be cancelled in the days leading up to the event. I could not get replacements. One of those involved Fonz Alexander. I was determined to get him out, even though it meant paying for it out of my own pocket. He’d been stopped in October so he hadn’t been earning. I felt it was the least I could do because he’s been such a good servant. But then I get a call from another promoter and they need Fonz to save another show against a ticket-seller who’s sold hundreds of tickets. So I let him go. In the end, that show was cancelled and Fonz didn’t get a fight.

Ultimately there are too many shows at the moment. You can understand why. Everyone is working hard to get their fighters out there but there simply aren’t enough decent opponents for them. It’s very worrying.

The TV fighters are taking a lot of the opponents that would ordinarily be on small hall shows. But at that level, you have a bit of pedigree and should be fighting better opposition.

Without doubt, fighters and their trainers should be willing to take greater risks. But then you have to understand the business of boxing, too. At this level, we’re not going to risk someone who is selling a thousand tickets in his fourth or fifth fight. However, once they get to 10-0 or 11-0, they simply have to be willing to step up. That isn’t always the case.

You could say I was the same when I was fighting. I could sell a lot of tickets. In my first fight I boxed Paul Hamilton, who was 4-4. Back then, though, you didn’t have YouTube or BoxRec to do your homework. You just knew you were fighting and you got on with it. Now, managers, trainers and the fighters can look closely at who you’re proposing they fight and they reject it.

You’re begging managers to let their fighters fight on your show. Telling them you’ll pay them an extra couple of hundred quid when the reality is you’re already paying more for everything anyway. In the last few months the cost of everything has gone up and it’s not sustainable. Not long ago they’d be begging a promoter for a chance.

I’m putting on a show at Leicester Arena on December 12. On Saturday night I went to bed happy that it was starting to fall into place. By Sunday, after all the shows in the UK, three opponents had been stopped and another one was injured. It’s almost like starting all over again. This is happening all the time at the moment. The stress is incredible. You want to just switch off, you want to spend time with your family but you’re always looking at BoxRec, always checking your phone. It may sound silly, but I am struggling to sleep at night.

You’re never going to make a fortune promoting at this level, we all know that. But the circumstances are stacked against us more than ever before. If a promoter makes a few quid, they deserve every penny, because it’s such a hard and thankless job.

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