The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the 2020 sports calendar, and boxing has not escaped.
There were seven events scheduled to take place across the Midlands in April alone at venues that include Dudley Town Hall, North Notts Arena and Aston Villa FC.
But on Mar 17th, in response to the Government guidelines, the British Boxing Board of Control cancelled all events under its jurisdiction.
It’s not difficult to see how their decision, plus the government’s protocol instructing the closure of all sports facilities, affects major Midlands boxing promoters, boxing gyms, clubs, and of course, the boxers themselves.
Out of fifteen Midlands area titles, seven remain vacant, including the Heavyweight title (uncontested since 2014). And that’s the way they’ll stay for, well…who knows how long?
Furthermore, the eight current Midlands champions will neither, in the foreseeable future, defend their titles nor get an opportunity to further their careers by challenging at the English or British title level.
And all boxers, regardless of their rank, are now unable to earn from their trade. For many, that’s a crucial blow.
They say, when the going gets tough, the tough get going, and in many respects, it’s become evident that this is one of those occasions. There are some tough cookies in the boxing community.
The UK lockdown currently permits outdoor excursions only to buy food, get medication or to take exercise. While some boxers have managed to find places to go jogging, others have utilised their facilities at home by reacquainting themselves with their punch-bags, skipping ropes and weights.
Self-discipline has always been a trait needed by any good boxer. For those top boxers that want to pick up where they left off once the restrictions on sports are removed, they’ll need to display this trait like never before.
Some promoters, though floored by the pandemic, haven’t been KO’d. They’ve climbed up from the canvas and come back swinging.
For example, BCB Promotions have introduced a series called Boxing Firsts via their Facebook Page. It’s a move aimed at giving boxers in their stable an opportunity to share their first-time boxing experiences. It’s a way for fight fans to find out more about the guys behind the gloves.
Tommy Owens Promotions, on the other hand, has been digging into its archives to revisit some of its great past events.
Carl Greaves Promotions, who had to postpone what they describe as their ‘biggest ever promotion’ are also remaining active on social media.
As well making sure that their boxers remain as high profile as possible, the team have shared details about some of their fund raising efforts.
In a time when there is an almost endless stream of sad and terrible news, and a multitude of people are coping with hardship and even bereavement, the boxing community appears to be, for the most part, pulling together.
We need this strength in unity, and we need it to last because COVID-19 may turn out to be the biggest and most dangerous opponent we’ve ever had to face.
Stay home. Stay well. Stay safe.