Boris body blow for boxing as COVID strikes back

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has delivered another body blow for top-level professional boxing with the introduction of new regulations to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Johnson confirmed that the plan to begin allowing fans to properly attend sporting events again from October 1 onwards has been scuppered by the rising number of cases in recent weeks.

The Prime Minister told the House of Commons that it is possible the new regulations will be in place for six months, throwing that was lining up to be a stacked heavyweight schedule in the final quarter of 2020 into huge doubt.

Promoter Frank Warren has already announced that the big domestic showdown between Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce will have to be postponed again from October 24, while a week later it had been hoped Oleksandr Usyk would be able to take on Dereck Chisora.

Only in the last few days it was announced that Dillian Whyte is due to rematch Alexander Povetkin on November 21 – though a venue has yet to be confirmed. Their first bout on August 22 took place behind closed doors at Matchroom Fight Camp.

Then on December 12 Anthony Joshua is due to defend his IBF, WBA and WBO world heavyweight titles against Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev at London’s O2 Arena. Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has already said that Joshua will meet Pulev before the end of 2020 – even if the bout has to take place without spectators.

The likelihood now that fights will take place without live gates through to the end of 2020 at least is a massive blow to promoters and fighters alike. They now face the nightmare choice of either staying inactive or accepting that shows will bring smaller revenues and smaller rewards.

Outside the UK, promoters are still trying desperately trying to find a venue which can stage the trilogy fight between Tyson and Deontay Wilder for the WBC, Ring magazine and lineal world heavyweight titles. It is hoped the fight can go ahead at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Saturday December 19, with a crowd of 10-15,000 in a stadium which can seat up to 65,000.