Boxers will have to walk to the ring in protective masks and without their trusty spit buckets if the sport returns behind-closed-doors in July, according to a five-page consultation document from the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) sent to UK promoters.
Boxing has been on hiatus across the world due to the coronavirus pandemic but is looking to get back up and running in the summer without spectators. Dillian Whyte’s Manchester showdown with Alexander Povetkin on July 4 and the Battle of Britain between Joe Joyce and Daniel Dubois on July 11 at London’s 02 Arena could both fall under these new rules.
A statement from the BBBofC read: "At present there is no date for lockdown to end. Public health and safety is everyone's top priority and the British Boxing Board of Control is taking Government advice so that we can best advise all our licence holders as to when professional Boxing in the UK can resume.
"We recognise that licence holders will want to prepare for restrictions being lifted and sport resuming. It is important to recognise that when professional boxing promotions can resume there may be restrictions in place.
"Depending upon Government decisions it is hopeful that professional boxing will commence in July 2020 and we will continue to use our best endeavours to do so and are working closely with our promoters.”
Referees and trainers in the fighters’ corners must all wear protective gear, events will include no more than five bouts and with no “championship contests.”
Other guidelines set out in the document include no ring announcers, ring girls or TV cameras inside the ring, all proposed venues must be reviewed by the BBBofC and "cleaned to a medical standard" before the event, only "essential" officials, promoters and broadcasters can attend and all boxers, trainers and referees must be tested for Covid-19 48 hours before fight night and self-isolate at a hotel until their test result is known.
With boxing events requiring ambulances and staff, as well as access to neurological hospital wings, the BBBofC are keen to avoid adding pressure on the National Health Service by resuming boxing too soon.
In response to the new proposals, Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn wrote on Twitter: “Just read the BBBofC guidelines to bring boxing back. Huge (but mostly sensible) barriers to overcome to make it happen but when the time comes we will be ready.”
However, trainer Joe Gallagher, who looks after WBA super-middleweight champion Callum Smith, was more disapproving of the new measures, tweeting: “Why the rush and do things in half measures? Make sure everyone is safe and well and let’s look at going September and give everyone time get back training sparring and make sure everyone is safe”