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British boxing grounds to a halt as Board withdraw backing and promoters cancel shows

The Boxing Board withdraw their sanction from all public shows in the UK, leading to widespread cancellations from promoters

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David Avanesyan vs Josh Kelly headlined one of the first shows to be shelved
David Avanesyan vs Josh Kelly headlined one of the first shows to be shelved

It was only a matter of time. With the UK government moving into the next and most limiting phase of its Coronavirus suppression plan, boxing in Britain has inevitably come to a virtual shutdown. The British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC), who sanction professional boxing on these shores, responded to advice to avoid mass gatherings and the lack of medical support now available at fight cards by cancelling all public tournaments under their jurisdiction. While they initially entered into discussions with promoters who were considering staging bills behind closed doors, this does not seem to have progressed beyond conjecture.

 

The Board’s decision was followed by the confirmations, thick and fast, from various promoters, officially postponing shows. Of the TV bills, Hennessy Sports were first out of the gate, nixing the Channel 5 broadcasts set for March 28 in Coventry (Shakan Pitters vs Chad Sugden) and April 25 in Crystal Palace, headlined by Samir Ziani vs Alex Dilmaghani for the European super-featherweight title.

 

"The outbreak of Covid-19 is an unprecedented situation affecting everyone around the world," Mick Hennessy noted. "Above all, the health and welfare of the boxers, staff, event contractors and fans is our priority and we have taken this action following direction from the BBBofC and the government."

 

MTK Global swiftly followed suit, postponing the light-heavyweight Golden Contract semi-finals scheduled for this Friday (March 20) on Sky Sports. The card also included British and English title fights and the press conference was going to take place at lunchtime today.

 

"The ongoing pandemic in the UK means that the full weight of medical care must be thrown behind the NHS and we fully support all decisions taken to ensure people get the best advice, treatment and care as soon as possible," the company stated.

 

Matchroom then put back all their announced events for this month and April, as they had already done in the US. This consisted of the O2 show scheduled for next week (March 28, David Avanesyan vs Josh Kelly), April 4 in Newcastle topped by Lewis Ritson vs Miguel Vazquez and April 24 in Doncaster headlined by local heroine Terri Harper defending her world title against Natasha Jonas.

 

"The health and safety of the boxers, staff, event contractors and fans involved with our events is the top priority for Matchroom Boxing and we thank everyone for their understanding," said Eddie Hearn’s group, in a press release. "We look forward to bringing world class boxing events back to these shores as soon as it is safe to do so."

 

We have yet to read anything official from Frank Warren and Queensberry Promotions regarding their O2 show, main evented by Daniel Dubois vs Joe Joyce, set for April 11. While the Board’s plan continues until the end of April, they are planning to meet again to discuss the ongoing issue next month.

 

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