Matchroom's Hearn to bring boxing back to the UK - in his old garden
Eddie Hearn, head of Matchroom Boxing, plans to bring professional boxing back to the UK following the coronavirus pandemic, by hosting fights in the garden of the Matchroom Sport headquarters in Essex during July and August.
The house in question was once the Hearn family home, and has a 15-acre garden, which could accommodate the infrastructure needed to stage a fight.
All professional boxing, as with all other sport in the UK, has been shut down since mid-March, when the pandemic first hit.
Hearn has told media that the events, which will be called ‘Matchroom Fight Camp’ will be closed to fans, and that only around 90 people will attend each fight. A specialised gym will be built on-site, as will changing rooms and a makeshift studio, and coronavirus tests will be provided for all staff and fighters.
The promoter apparently wants to stage a sequence of four fight nights on consecutive weekends over the summer months, culminating in Dillian Whyte’s WBC heavyweight title fight against Alexander Poverkin. It has been reported that the first fight nights will be shown on Sky Sports, the pay-TV broadcaster, but Hearn has suggested that the Whyte bout will end up being pay-per-view.
Matchroom Boxing has an exclusive five-year rights deal in place with Sky for the UK and Ireland that runs to 2021, while its biggest fighter, world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, is also tied to Sky until 2021.
Hearn told media: “It’s a short-term investment for us to make sure the momentum we have built for 10 years is maintained. We have to come back with a bang, safely and under the guidance.”
He added: “Of all the challenges I have had… this is the biggest. That excites me.”
Hearn admitted that “financially it will be a disaster”, adding that with “the hotel, a gym for training, changing rooms to build, you’re well into seven figures financially.”
He said in another interview, however: “After the momentum we’ve worked so hard to build over the past 10 years, I’m not going to let boxing just dribble back.”
Hearn has said that the entire format will stick to guidelines set down by the British Boxing Board of Control, which has already seen his proposal.
He said that while he does want to be the first promoter to put boxing back on, “I don’t want to be the first with a bad product. I want to be the first but I want to get it right.”
Click here to read an exclusive Sportcal interview with Barry Hearn, Eddie’s father, on how Matchroom Live, Matchroom Sport’s new over-the-top subscription streaming platform, will become a key part of the group’s revenue stream in the years ahead.