Eddie Hearn set to make boxing the U.K’s first sport to bounce back from the Covid 19 epidemic

5 min

Matchroom Boxing boss Eddie Hearn just revealed his plans to bring live boxing back to keen fans in July. The July planned return date is old news as Eddie Hearn has mentioned this target date in several interviews through out the pandemic. What did come as a bit of a shock is Eddie Hearn will be running the whole project from the Matchroom Headquarters back garden in Brentwood!

Hearn’s incredible £1m plan named “FIGHT CAMP” promises a whole month of fights ‘razzmatazz and sexiness’ – all broadcast from Matchrooms garden
The £1m plan will start with a British world title fight and end with Dillian Whyte. Fans will be treated to a fight night every Saturday stretching into August which Sky Sports will broadcast live.

Eddie Hearns Fight Camp Teaser

In a recent interview with the Daily Mail, followed by several teaser videos and images on social media, Eddie Hearn revealed his intention for “FIGHT CAMP” to stage fight nights on four consecutive Saturdays on the 15-acre grounds of Matchroom headquarters in Brentwood, Essex.

His £1million plan is to open with the all-Brit world title clash between Terri Harper and Natasha Jonas in mid-July, before closing with Dillian Whyte’s WBC interim heavyweight title fight against Alexander Povetkin in the first or second Saturday in August.

Breaking down the projects blueprint for boxing’s return, which will see only 90 people on site at each fight complying with strict Covid guidlines , Hearn told Daily Mail: ‘Financially this will be painful for us but after the momentum we have worked so hard to build over the past 10 years, I’m not going to let boxing just dribble back. While other guys go with arenas and empty studios, ours will look very different.

‘Just imagine it. It is summer, the house is all lit up, you can see Canary Wharf in the distance and fireworks are going off. Then over the hill walk Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin for a massive tear up on my lawn.

‘World championship boxing in my garden? Oh, go on then.’ 

The proposal is now in its final stages and will see four cards of five fights each spread across a 28-day stretch. With a working title of Matchroom Fight Camp, the expenditure and the logistical exercise are significant amid the restrictions caused by the coronavirus. 

‘We cannot just bring boxing back with a dark studio,’ Hearn said. ‘We have built our product on the razzmatazz, the sexiness and the drama. It has all been about building that moment for a fight, so we cannot afford to just bring people out like a gameshow.

‘We want to create a gladiatorial environment that will not only ensure compelling viewing but will also ensure fighters can perform at the highest level.’ 

The details are of course very complex and still moving in sync with the rules around the pandemic, and discussions are ongoing with the British Boxing Board of Control, Brentwood council and the WBC sanctioning body.

In describing how it will all come together, Hearn said

‘It is a huge mission. We are going to turn our headquarters here into an outdoor venue for live boxing, with a full canopy in the middle of the garden and the ring overlooking London.

‘We are building changing rooms for the fighters, setting up a space for a ring walk, and figuring out how we can do everything you need for this kind of production with as few people as possible.’ Testing and isolation are the major challenges.

‘We are in talks with a nearby hotel about taking control of it for each of the weeks,’ Hearn said. ‘The way it will work is everyone involved – the fighters, their teams, the broadcasters – will go into the hotel on Tuesday and the fighter and their team will go to a testing facility at the hotel. You will go in, get tested, be handed a room key and go straight to your room, where you will wait until you get the result of the test.

‘The tests are comprehensive and they take 24 hours, so the fighter will stay in their room until they get a call from our doctors, likely on the Wednesday, with their results. If they are positive, they will leave the hotel immediately. If they are not, they are able to leave their room and take part in the obligations of fight week, all with social distancing.

‘Everyone involved in the show, from top to bottom, will have to go through that process before they are allowed on to our premises.

‘In terms of fight-week promotion, that is the other side of the challenge. How do you do the media around it? Obviously we cannot have dozens of journalists turning up and sitting shoulder to shoulder for a presser and a weigh-in like normal. 

‘So we need to decide how it will go – it is likely that Zoom interviews and social media live streams with the fighters and journalists will be the new norm, and pumping out clips of the fighters around the clock, building up to the weigh-ins on the grounds on Fridays and the fights on Saturdays.’ 

Provisionally, the number of people on site for each of the fight nights will be around 80 to 90. That is derived from a plan of five fights per card, and a maximum of three cornermen for each of the 10 fighters, in addition to a dozen Matchroom employees.

There will also be broadcast staff, eight to nine medical personnel and officials from the British Boxing Board of Control. Everyone will travel to the mansion in Brentwood in facemasks.

The fights themselves will include a multitude of differences to what has gone before. In line with the Board of Control’s recent consultation document, there will be temperature checks, no ring card girls, nor ring announcers, while spit buckets will need a lid. 

The protocols around those buckets are substantial in their own right, as they must be wiped during each round and then bleached at the fight’s conclusion by someone wearing a face mask, eye protection, a long-sleeve fluid repellent gown and gloves.

Ring ropes and canvases must also be cleaned ‘to a medical standard’ between fights on any card, and referees and cornermen will wear masks. The Board have also suggested no championship contests due to the extra sanctioning personnel needed, which runs counter to Hearn’s plan. He expects an agreement can be found.

‘We are in discussions with the Board at the moment,’ he said. ‘All of this has been done in dialogue with them. Obviously we want to start with a world title contest.

‘We would need the WBC, say, to be comfortable with Board of Control officials, some of whom are WBC officials anyway. The challenge with all of this is keeping the numbers down.’ In the event that the final hurdles are cleared, and the shows go ahead as planned, it will put boxing among the first sports to bounce back from the pandemic.

‘The idea has been going around our team since this all started,’ Hearn said. ‘We want to make the best of the bad situation and we have had to get creative.

‘I just feel like everyone seems a lot more comfortable in an outside environment at the moment. To do a contact sport in a studio or a confined gym with everyone sweating about, isn’t great. This feels cleaner and safer and it will look sensational, with the drones flying over the premises.

‘It will give the fighters that big event feel. The numbers will be limited but the drama will not – there will be pyrotechnics and fireworks with a big mansion in the background, looking out over London.

‘It won’t be great for the grass but hopefully it will be very good for boxing.’ 

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