Over the past few months, much has been made of how boxing will look post Coronavirus. We’ve questioned how many fighters will be forced to give the sport up as they’re not making any money. We’ve questioned which promoters might not make it through the financial hardship. We’ve questioned how the big fights are going to be held without ticket sales, live supporters, and big venues.
A lot of solutions are being discussed by Warren, Hearn, Arum, and the other big names with regards to venues. Hearn and Dillian Whyte joked about holding the Povetkin fight in a car park. The truth might not be far off. – albeit with an improvement in the scenery.
We never imagined a credible heavyweight fight would be staged in someone’s backyard, especially not talents like Whyte and Povetkin. It sounds like a bad B-movie script, with Hearn playing the billionaire Super-Villain, watching a Heavyweight fight from his balcony before dropping Bond into his pool full of sharks.
But, action-movie extras aside, this is exactly what Hearn is exploring as the venue for the upcoming fight. Hearn has decided that the Matchroom Headquarters, his childhood home in Brentwood, Essex, will stage events from July onwards.
The fights Hearn has planned will be broadcast on Sky Sports and will be the smaller, behind-closed-doors events he spoke about on the Matchroom YouTube Channel.
It’s a great solution to the problem and the forward-thinking nature of Hearn and his willingness to resort to often ridiculous amounts of effort to get things done, are some of the reasons he currently sits in such a privileged position in the boxing world. However, while it seems extremely innovative, it is not the first time something like this has been done on this scale. Much has been made of the mutual respect between Eddie Hearn and Dana White, as bold and brash fight promoters in separate worlds, and it seems that Hearn has taken to emulating White.
White, as sole manager of all UFC matters, including fighter promotion and matchmaking, has been able to make decisions boxing promoters could only dream of. In 2005 the UFC started The Ultimate Fighter, a series in which a selection of athletes lived, trained, and fought on a purpose-built private facility in Las Vegas. It was a strange mash of Big Brother and MMA, which allowed White to have full control over the proceedings from beginning to end. Some of the sport’s biggest names fought each other behind-closed-doors inside a gym half the size of most Fitness Firsts (throwback), watched only by their fellow fighters and coaches.
What Hearn is looking to do, he’s naming ‘Matchroom fight camp’, will take this concept and turn it up a notch, or five. Hearn wants to add all the atmosphere we’re losing by not having fans present. He’s previously spoken of pyrotechnics and lighting shows, and the stage plans he revealed over the weekend appear to be making use of almost half of the lawn space available.
It’s an extremely bold plan, but Hearn clearly understands that only bold moves will make any headway in the current climate. He’s shown a willingness to make short-term losses in exchange for long-term growth, not just for himself but for the survival of boxing. Hearn’s willingness to make personal losses for his fans and fighters is an attitude few apart from dedicated trainers and the boxers themselves have ever shown. It’s an attitude the men at the top don’t have, Bob Arum may not be so enthused greenlight such a plan.
Hearn talked about the huge cost of the development, ”The hotel, a gym for training, changing rooms to build, you’re well into seven figures. It will be a financial disaster.” It’s a financial disaster he’s willing to sign off on because “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.”
Last week Dana White said that Eddie Hearn should be the man running boxing. Whether you agree with that statement, whether you like Eddie or not, you have to admit he’s making a great case for himself.