Matchroom’s Fight Camp: Innovation For The Good Of The Sport
By Will Collett
“Necessity is the mother of all invention.”
Never have truer words been said than right now, given the current state of affairs in boxing.
Matchroom’s pioneering proposal to kickstart live sport again from the safety on their headquarters in Brentwood, Essex, has been received with open arms by fans across the country.
The project, labelled as ‘Fight Camp’, aims to hold four separate fight nights, all holding five bouts, across consecutive weekends beginning in July.
Having missed out on any boxing events since March, this innovative idea is exactly the type of proaction that needs to be put into place in order to keep the momentum of the sport going. With ambitious plans to compete with not only rival promoters, but entire sports, Eddie Hearn, aims to put on a spectacle that will stand the test of time.
Being a company that has built its name on promoting sought after events, there is a desire to distinguish their series from other events that may be held behind closed doors, in studios. As such, the launching of such a venture will come at a heavy price, however, this pales into insignificance to the thought of the sport losing its desirability to broadcasters.
As with all plans of significance, the path is never straightforward. In such testing times there are countless stumbling blocks that pose threats to the success of this projects launch. In order to combat these threats, strict regulations are constantly being put into place. The construction of changing rooms for the fighters as well as a canopy to cover the ring, seem to be the simplest obstacles that will face them.
Proficient procedures [including social distancing] put in place, will be paramount to allowing these events to go ahead. This is alongside the strict testing for everyone involved, which so far has an estimated cost of £35,000.
As it stands, the plans would include the fighters and all staff present on fight night having to stay in a local hotel for five days prior, with all people tested having to isolate in their separate rooms until the results come in.
Perhaps more importantly than issues faced on the night is those in preparation that have the potential to put a halt to the entire process. Still awaiting up to date governmental advice, it is yet unsure as to whether fighters in the UK will be able to spar in the build up to their fights. If there is no lifting of restrictions, then this could be a serious spanner in the works for the reality of the project.
These plans could not come to fruition without the approval of the British Boxing Board of Control, and by all accounts there has been a progressive open dialogue. With the longer term ambitions being to stage world title contests towards the tail end of the Fight Camp series, it is paramount that the initial few weeks go according to plan.
Initially, the fight cards will comprise of strictly British fighters, due to the obviously restrictions put in place on travel. This however, is nothing for fans to be sad about, with some truly mouthwatering all British clashes that can be put together.
The grand finale of the series is scheduled to be the anticipated heavyweight showdown between Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin. Katie Taylor’s undisputed fight against Amanda Serrano is also looking likely that it will be staged at Matchroom HQ, alongside Natasha Jonas and Terry Harper.
In order to make this series the success it could be, it is absolutely critical that the energy created by the fans is replaced in a way that highlights the intensity of such a gladiatorial sport. Stripped back, with just television cameras and a small quota of essential staff, this will be an event that tests the mindset of every fighter stepping through that ring.
Those fighters known for being reliant on channelling energy from their fans in the crowd will be at a distinct disadvantage, however, at an elite level, the adaptability of an athlete is what separates champions from the rest.
As soon as contracts are signed, it needs to be business as usual and preparations must be put in place to ensure that their adrenaline is pumping as it would be on a normal fight night, in order to perform at the level they need to.
If taken lightly, there is the slight possibility that a fighter may fall into the trap of feeling like they are sparring. Again, this comes down to the professionalism of the fighters and I am sure that those keen to fill the slots on the card will be taking every necessary precaution.
From the point of view of those watching at home, there is the potential for an incredibly cinematic showcasing of such tactical and deliberate brutality. Hearing the sounds of each punch land as well as the fighters wincing will be an incredible insight into the micro details that occur during a fight, however are often drowned out by crowd noise on the night.
If all goes to plan, this series has the potential to launch a new season of post-lockdown boxing with a bang. Well matched fights, put on in a unique setting with a backdrop of an illuminated London skyline has the potential for iconic imagery in years to come.