Sports

Anthony Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn has £1m plan to stage fights

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Eddie Hearn has revealed he intends to restart Matchroom Boxing‘s schedule in his back garden. The British boxing schedule has been decimated by the coronavirus lockdown, which has laid waste to several high-profile fights. Matchroom, in particular, have felt the brunt of the lockdown, which has forced them to indefinitely postpone several events.

In April, Eddie Hearn outlined plans for the promotion to get back up running within a six-week time frame; revealing he was planning on building an arena capable of staging fights.

That arena will be built in his garden, where around 80-90 people – including Matchroom staff, fighters and cornerman – will be in attendance.

Eddie Hearn admits the outlay to facilitate his plan will be large, telling the 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.”

Hearn’s £1million plan will kick off with a British title fight between Terri Harper and Natasha Jones in July before closing out with Dillian Whyte’s interim WBC heavyweight title fight against Alexander Povetkin sometime in August.

As well as bringing live boxing matches back to our screens, Eddie Hearn is determined to bring some of the glitz and the glamour associated with Matchroom.

“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.”

Eddie Hearn is well aware of the size of the task on his hands, especially when it comes to implementing strict COVID-19 testing and effective social distancing.

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“It is a huge mission,” he said. “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.”

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