‘There is no way we will sanction boxing under the lockdown’: British Boxing Board of Control rules out fights behind closed doors during coronavirus crisis
- Promoters and TV executives keen on staging fights behind closed doors
- BBBoC general secretary Robert Smith has ruled out bouts during lockdown
- Smith has spelled out why sport cannot be hurried back into any arena
There will be no boxing behind closed doors in Britain before the coronavirus lockdown is lifted, along with all social distancing measures.
Promoters and TV executives have been pushing the envelope towards staging fights solely in front of the cameras, some of those bouts as important as the delayed world championship clash between Anthony Joshua and Kubrat Pulev and another heavyweight battle, the already rescheduled final title eliminator involving Dillian White and Alexander Povetkin.
Robert Smith, general secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control, is now making this clear: ‘There is no way we will sanction boxing under the lockdown. Nor is it even possible while social distancing is in place. Not even in television studios.’
Anthony Joshua’s world title fight with Kubrat Pulev in London has been postponed
That principled stands casts another shameful shadow over football.
It stands in sharp contrast to the willingness of the Premier League, and others in authority, to risk the health of players, managers, coaches, support staff, TV cameramen and commentators in otherwise empty grounds. As well as further endangering the lives of medical personnel, even as nurses and other health workers are dying on the front line of the fight against the pandemic.
Smith spells out with welcome clarity the reasons why sport, much though it is missed by the public, cannot be hurried back into any arena: ‘The well-being of all those involved is paramount. In our case, it is impossible to maintain social distancing between two boxers. No fighter can hit another from a range of two metres. And what about the closeness of the referee, the contact between fighters and their corners, the proximity of officials and cameramen?
‘Other medical issues are in some ways even more important. Even if we could persuade the doctors and medics who it is necessary for us to have at ringside at all promotions to attend, how on earth could we justify asking them to take time away from saving lives during this crisis?
Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin has been put back to July 4 due to coronavirus
‘Injuries happen in all sports. What if a boxer is badly hurt and needing to go by ambulance to hospital? I tell you this. It is absolutely unconscionable that we would even consider asking any hospital to give up a bed while thousands of people are dying from this virus.’
Football, on top of its unseemly feud with £100,000-a-week players who are resisting 30 per cent pay cuts, ponders trying to end its season behind closed doors. In no small part to avoid repaying hundreds of millions of TV fees for matches left un-played.
Smith makes clear: ‘People in boxing are experiencing hardship. Of course there is immediate loss of earnings for some but also a few smaller promoters may go under if this crisis lasts too long.
‘There is criticism of big promoters but while they are well-funded now, when they come to lose money they do so in much larger amounts. But health has to come first.’
Robert Smith (right) has spelled out why sport cannot be hurried back into any arena
There speaks an executive who has long been at the forefront of efforts to make boxing as safe as humanly possible, thus bringing down significantly the number of deaths and serious injuries in the British ring.
The only possibility Smith envisages for fights in closed halls or TV studios might be this: ‘If the limits on gatherings of people is eased to, say, 50 then a few smaller fights involving restricted numbers on site could conceivably help boxing get started again.
‘But even that would not be easy because at the moment gyms are closed and boxers are only able to do light training on their own.’
That is just one reason why Smith issues this warning to the fight game and its deprived fans: ‘Boxing will not resume the day after government lifts the lockdown. We cannot run the risk of being rushed until all medical and policing precautions can be put into place.’
Will football, in all the inordinate wealth available to the game through the Premier League, take note?
In all probability, given the haste in which the billionaire owners of such clubs as Tottenham and Newcastle have availed themselves of our tax-payer money to fund 80 per cent of the wages of their non-playing staff, the answer to that will be a cynical and resounding: No.
Source: Read Full Article