VIP boss Steve Wood tells Elliot Foster that the enforced hiatus will do wonders for his bank balance and enthusiasm
Golf has been at the centre of the exercise regime being undertaken by Steve Wood during the boxing suspension. The VIP Boxing Promotions head honcho has welcomed the enforced break from the sport as he brushes up on his swing and also aims to wind down for a while.
“From a health and financial point of view, this break has probably done me well,” Wood, who also has a successful engineering firm as part of the Vital Impact Protection group of companies, exclusively told Seconds Out. “I’d probably overlooked the health aspect slightly because this is really f***king stressful. All people see is the production on the night, the ring walks and the fights themselves where they [the fans] are wanting to see knockouts.
“What they don’t see is the stress: the sleepless nights, the 4am phone calls and the pull-outs on the days of shows. They don’t see the money lost or the nightmare that many of us small-hall promoters go through to put shows on.
“Before the lockdown, I actually enjoyed the break because after the Bolton show was cancelled by the [British Boxing] Board [of Control, set for March 21 at the Bolton Whites Hotel], I just had a round of golf. I didn’t have any pressure on me and I didn’t lose money, for a change. I could just relax and it was great. For my health and finances, this break will probably end up doing me the world of good because I’ll be refreshed and ready to go again.”
When boxing resumes, Wood hopes that the likes of himself and other small-hall promoters are helped by the spread of shows –– but he knows that’s highly unlikely, with everyone jostling for purchase position.
"Everyone is going to have to be sensible when this is over, you’re going to have every sport trying to pack in shows," he added. "I’ve been saying promoters should work closer together for the last 10 years but they don’t, you only do what works for you and your fighters.
“One thing that will be good for when the shows come back is that they will have to be better than ever. I’m a football, boxing, cricket and rugby fan and I usually manage to go to them all, but all the different sports are going to be putting events on at the same time and now, when this COVID-19 thing is all over, we’re going to have a choice to make. We’re going to have to pick which events we go to and, in turn, we, as promoters, are going to have to put on better shows in order to attract the audience through the door again.
"The small-hall shows are only looking at getting around 1,000 people, it’s the big promoters with TV dates to fill who will have to make sure they don’t put events on the same nights.”
Wood’s stark warning has, it seems, already fallen on deaf ears, with Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren going head-to-head when it comes to dates of rescheduled shows.
On Monday, the British Boxing Board of Control confirmed that all boxing events in the UK have now been suspended until the end of May.
Warren had already postponed his co-promotion with Top Rank, set for May 2, at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland. Josh Taylor, the IBF and Super WBA super-lightweight champion, was meant to take on Thailand’s Apinun Khongsong in a mandatory defence of his red, white and gold belt. A new date for that has yet to be revealed, but Taylor has said that he may not fight this year.
Hearn had Dillian Whyte scheduled to face Alexander Povetkin at Manchester Arena on the same date as Taylor’s clash with Khongsong and that, alongside its stellar supporting cast which included Katie Taylor’s undisputed female lightweight title defence against former seven-weight world champion Amanda Serrano, has been pushed back to July 4.
Daniel Dubois’ fivebelt heavyweight title clash against Joe Joyce, originally set for April 11 at the O2 Arena in London, has been rescheduled for July 11, exclusively live on BT Sport Box Office, while Lee Selby’s IBF lightweight world title final eliminator against George Kambosos Jr will also take place on that date, on Sky Sports and DAZN, at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales.
“I’m quite lucky really,” Wood continued, “because I’ve still got my fighters but also my engineering business too.
“I’m glad of the break, it’s doing me really well, but I can’t wait to get back to the stress of putting on a boxing show.”