With all the anticipation from fans about the return of boxing and sports in general, it’s easy to assume that the sportsmen and women themselves are as eager to get back to work as we are.
So many of us are stuck working from home, understanding the boredom of being unable to get outside, feeling like we’re having to scratch these months off our calendars without any progress being made. I imagine then that athletes must feel this sensation compounded to a factor of 10. They are, after all, used to being way more active than we are, training every day, being outside, or traveling to various camps and training centers.
The ones at the top of their sport must meet with a multitude of specialists every month. Just think of their focus on physio, nutrition, skills advancement, technique adjustment, strength and conditioning coaches, sponsorship. Living at such a varied and active pace, it must feel absolutely pedestrian being stuck at home like the rest of us.
But, according to Eddie Hearn, some boxers aren’t exactly cursing at the idea of some time off. Speaking on Talk the Talk, Hearn’s YouTube series with Tony Bellew, the two men talked about the current situation and how it relates to fighters. They covered a variety of topics, including how important it is for pro boxers to stay as active and involved in the game as possible.
Talking directly about the plans to stage fights in on the grounds of Matchroom Headquarters, Hearn said of his boxers, “80% are saying, ‘ah please just hurry up stick me in’, obviously you got the proportion of those people that financially need to get in the ring as well, but I am getting a small group of fighters that are like ‘No, I’m alright, gimme a buzz when it’s all back to normal’.”
So it seems, like some of us, even professional boxers can enjoy being furloughed. Some are probably having the longest amount of time off from hard training and other obligations that they’ve enjoyed since turning pro. While it understandable given how hard these elite sportspeople work, Hearn and Bellew were quick to point out that even though there’s not much going on, this is still no time to rest.
Hearn said “You’ve got to be ready and you’ve got to take advantage of this because you will get jumped, in terms of the line. In terms of the activity line, the profile line, the rankings line… This is what you do.”
It’s obviously a time where top fighters might not be making the money they’re used too, or for the lower-ranked guys it might end up costing them for travel and accommodation, etc. but in the terms that Hearn laid out, it seems that boxing during Coronavirus isn’t as much about getting ahead of the competition as it is about not being left behind.
Bellew fully agreed with Hearn, “Definitely, I think it’s an opportunity…It’s all about how they perceive it and how they jump at their opportunity because it will be huge.”
It’s an interesting idea and a novel situation, having some fighters being happy to sit the pandemic out and to wait until the boxing scene is back on track. We’ll see the more proactive, hustling mentalities emerge, putting on fights for less money and with no crowds, perhaps getting fights they’d be overlooked for normally, and perhaps seeing the potential for their stock to rise as a result of this lockdown.
Hearn also mentioned a conversation he had with Anthony Joshua, quoting Joshua as saying “I think some people just don’t wanna fight…they’re quite happy to sort of sit out… I would love to fight at the office”, meanwhile Bellew was nodding and vocalizing in agreement. Bellew later added, “A lot of fighters are happy with the type of,… being known as a boxer… but no one wants to really go and prove it.”
We’ll have to wait and see how things develop, but from the sounds of it, the inaction during this period might have a greater effect on the boxing scene than simply delaying it a few months.
We could see some real movement within the ranks and it will be interesting to see which boxers are going to find the openings in this opportunity, and which ones are going to get caught off guard.