British boxing’s return date set to be confirmed this week after Covid-19 shutdown

Eddie Hearn saw his promotion of Josh Kelly’s fight this month bite the dust (Image: Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing)

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British Boxing Board of Control general secretary Robert Smith hopes to announce early this week that the sport can return in February.

The rapid rise in Covid-19 cases across the country convinced the Board to shut down all events scheduled for this month, including Josh Kelly’s European title fight against David Avanesyan.

And there were fears that it could be March or April at the earliest before shows could be put on again.

But Smith said: “There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes and hopefully early this week I can put something out that we can commence in February.

Robert Smith was pleased with the number of fights Britain was able to host last year despite the coronavirus pandemic, including Anthony Joshua's clash with Kubrat Pulev last month
(Image: Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing)

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“There are a lot of discussions with doctors and all advisers, and I’m working on the dates and whereabouts so we can start next month.

“Obviously, over the Christmas period when we started to realise things were getting worse, we had lots of discussions and we felt that cancelling it in January, which is generally relatively quiet for us anyway, was the sensible thing to do with things escalating as they were.

“But I’ve had a discussion with our medical panel over the last few days and we’ve another virtual Zoom meeting on Tuesday to go through what we need to do to get it going again.

“And I’m hoping over the weekend to get the green light to get up and running in February and where we can go then in terms of venues.

“Will we be in a position by then to go to London, to Manchester, Liverpool, wherever?

“They’re the sort of things we’re taking advice on from the doctors in those areas.”

Dillian Whyte was badly knocked out by Alexander Povetkin in Eddie Hearn's back garden as boxing got creative to get fights on last year
(Image: Mark Robinson)

Boxing, like every other area of life, was significantly impacted by the outbreak of the global pandemic just under a year ago, which is why Smith is proud of the way it coped.

He added: “It has’t been easy, it has been very difficult, but we have come out of it well bearing in mind the number of shows we had.

“We started with a British title fight and finished with a world heavyweight championship in December.

“If it was a normal year you’d be happy with that, it’s just bums on seats that was the problem.”

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