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Months of hard work will culminate in the long-awaited return of championship boxing to BT Sport screens as Brad Foster takes on James Beech for the British and Commonwealth titles on July 10th.
The show marks the beginning of a new series broadcast live from the BT Sport studios that will run throughout the summer as the sport bursts back into action following a lengthy enforced hiatus.
But with a new reality to contend with as the coronavirus continues to alter how our society functions, boxing will have to adapt new measures to safeguard the health and wellbeing of those involved in making it happen.
Speaking exclusively to BT Sport, Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren outlined how the upcoming shows have been modified in order to meet the demands of a challenging environment.
“We’ll probably kick off the first show with five bouts on the card,” the 68-year-old explained.
“Whereas on a normal night, we’d have 12 to 14 - but they don’t all get on TV. So to start with, it will probably be limited to five.
“Regarding entourages, they’re out. We’ve got to limit the amount of people in the building. Safety and hygiene is paramount.
The hygiene factor is going to change hugely, not just for our sport but for us as a nation
- Frank Warren
“In the corners, the guys will all be masked up. They’ll be wearing visors. We’ll be in a situation where there won’t be big corners.
“They will probably have the trainer in the corner and the cutman. That will be it. It’s going to be quite strict - and we will be strict in enforcing it for the safety of everybody there and the safety of the sport.”
As has become standard practice in other mainstream sports beginning to find their way in the ‘new normal’, athletes, officials and other necessary personnel will be regularly tested up to and including fight night.
“The fighters will be tested in training, they will be tested on fight week, they will be tested at the weigh-in, they will have their temperature taken on fight day,” Warren added.
“They are going to have the medical teams over them like a rash.”
The pandemic changed the sporting landscape almost overnight with athletes from all disciplines forced to adapt to new ways of working in an altered environment.
When ‘normality’ will return is a point up for discussion but in the meantime, Warren believes the legacy of dealing with the virus could have a lasting effect on the culture of boxing.
“The hygiene factor is going to change hugely, not just for our sport but for us as a nation,” he continued.
“I think we’re all going to be very conscious of that in the ‘new norm’. And for social gatherings, how long is social distancing going to go on? If they allow events to take place, are they going to let people sit next to each other?
“It’s all going to depend on whether they develop a vaccine. Are they going to develop a vaccine? I know the eminent brains are all bullish on it but nobody has come up with anything yet – and even then, you’ve got to inoculate 66 million people in this country.
“Bear in mind too, boxing is an international sport. We bring fighters in from around the world. We have to be conscious of all this. I couldn’t even say what the new norm is going to be, I just know we’re all going to have to be ultra, ultra-careful in what we’re doing.”
Co-headlining the opening show from Stratford on July 10th, highly-rated European WBO super-welterweight champion Hamzah Sheeraz takes on Scotland’s Paul Kean, while rising stars Mark Chamberlain and David Adeleye will also be in action.
Further additions to the opening card will be announced in the near future but later in July, Anthony Cacace will take on the first defence of his British Super Featherweight crown against Lyon Woodstock while Lerrone Richards will defend his British and Commonwealth Super-Middleweight titles against Umar ‘Top Boxer’ Sadiq.
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