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Will boxing crowds really be back in October?

boxing crowds
George Gigney urges caution following news that fans may be allowed back into stadiums and arenas in the UK from October

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AS the easing of the coronavirus lockdown in the UK continues at an admittedly alarming pace, Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week announced that the government intends to allow fans back into stadiums and arenas from October, with social distancing measures in place. There will be trial runs in the months leading up to that.

This, obviously, is great news for boxing – there are several big cards lined up for later in the year, which will be helped greatly by a paying live audience. Joe Joyce against Daniel Dubois at the O2 Arena in London springs to mind. However, this really should be approached with extreme caution. Boris’ announcement came with no scientific evidence as to why this can happen from October, just like several other of his lockdown-easing measures, which have come under fire from leading scientists.

In fact, many of those experts have stated they expect the virus to come back with a vengeance in the winter months. While rates in the UK are currently dropping, they suspect those numbers to rise dramatically again once the weather worsens. Coinciding such a spike with large crowds being allowed back into confined spaces doesn’t sound like it would end well, and could well lead to lockdown measures being put back in place. I could be completely wrong – I’m far more of a sceptic than I am a scientist – but I think it’s worth taking into account the potential costs of such a decision.

The BBC ran a rather worrying piece about the current state of boxing gyms in New York, where stricter lockdown measures are still in place. These gyms have been closed since March and have still not been able to reopen. What’s worse is that they’ve been given no guidance on when they might reopen, or what they can do to ensure safety and expedite the process. Gleason’s Gym – the oldest boxing gym in the USA – is faring better than most in the state but is still very much on the ropes. With no income and no support from their government, these training havens are facing the prospect of closing their doors for good – some already have.

Martin Snow, owner of Trinity Boxing, expressed his incredulity over how other states in the US have allowed gyms to reopen, and how other industries have also been allowed to resume business. He said: “You can have socially distanced orgies with hand sanitiser and masks, but you can’t go into a boxing gym? That’s f****** nuts. So I decided, I’m going to have boxing orgies: only with no sex, three minutes a time, fully clothed, wearing boxing gloves and headguards.”

Boxing orgies; coming to a pay-per-view platform near you.

In one of the more surprising announcements of the week, Matchroom Boxing USA confirmed they will hold an outdoor event on August 15 – on a street in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Julio Cesar Martinez will defend his WBC flyweight title against McWilliams Arroyo at 5th and S. Boston Avenue.  I’ve no idea of the logistics – several roads will surely be temporarily closed – but it’s bold and I love it. It’s a novel solution to an unprecedented problem.

You’ve got to feel for Jamel Herring who, once again, has tested positive for coronavirus – despite previously turning in a negative result. He was set to defend his WBO super-featherweight crown, but that bout has now been scrapped and it’s unclear when he will return to action. He was initially set to defend his belt in early July, but tested positive for COVID-19 two weeks prior. This second test could well have been a false positive, given that after his initial positive result, he then tested negative and confirmed he had the antibody in his system.

Whatever the case, we hope he is healthy and can return to the ring soon – particularly if it’s against Carl Frampton, as had been planned before the outbreak.

The strange saga of Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr could be at an end now that the Nevada State Athletic Commission and the Arizona Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts Commission successfully passed a motion to have the Mexican indefinitely banned from fighting anywhere in the US. Chavez Jnr and his team are appealing the decision.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr
Lewis Ward/Matchroom Boxing USA

The issue stems from Chavez Jnr allegedly swerving random drug tests in the lead-up to his fight with Daniel Jacobs, which moved to Arizona after Nevada scrapped the bout because of Chavez’s indiscretions. It’s a complicated situation, though if the decision stands it would be a previously unheard-of punishment surrounding drug-testing abnormalities. However, it would unlikely be the catalyst for other such punishments, given that two different states were involved – it is very rare for a single incident to cross state lines.

Mike Tyson is going to fight a great white shark. Well, that’s the sales pitch for the Discovery Channel’s upcoming ‘Shark Week’, anyway. Obviously the former heavyweight champ won’t actually be fighting a shark, just like Michael Phelps didn’t actually race one a few years ago for the same annual event. It’s a fun bit of publicity for Mike, and if he can continue with appearances like this, hopefully it’ll keep him away from the ring.

In more sombre news, it was confirmed that rising super-welter prospect Travell Mazion died in a car crash at the age of 24. Mazion was an exciting talent and progressing well under Golden Boy Promotions. He also used his platform to regularly pay tribute to gunshot victims in the US. It’s a terrible loss and our thoughts are with his loved ones.

YOUTUBE

Eddie Hearn wants to control boxing. I’m not even joking, he literally said that.

“The drive for me now is to control boxing. To control the sport globally and have a single entity running boxing like the UFC. If you wanna bet against me, you will see… I am the man for the job, I’m the only one that can do it,” he told IFL TV.

The UFC do a lot of things very, very well – paying their fighters a fair amount is not one of them. The UFC were also able to monopolise the top talent from a very young sport; I just don’t see how that’s possible in a sport as old and fragmented as boxing.

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