Eddie Hearn has revealed elaborate plans to host boxing events in his own back garden, which he promised would meet the criteria of “the razzmatazz, the sexiness and the drama.”
The promoter wants to host shows at Matchroom’s 15-acre headquarters in Brentwood, Essex, England, as a way to tackle the issues faced by boxing during the coronavirus pandemic.
It is reported Hearn wants to put on bouts taking place across four consecutive Saturdays in July and August, costing around £1million (about $1.2 million U.S.) to do so.
“Financially this will be painful for us but after the momentum we have worked so hard to build over the past 10 years, I’m not going to let boxing just dribble back. While other guys go with arenas and empty studios, ours will look very different,” Hearn told Sportsmail, which reports the plan is to begin with the all-British fight between Terri Harper and Natasha Jonas and finish with Dillian Whyte’s WBC interim heavyweight title fight against Alexander Povetkin.
“Just imagine it. It is summer, the house is all lit up, you can see Canary Wharf in the distance and fireworks are going off. Then over the hill walk Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin for a massive tear up on my lawn.
“World championship boxing in my garden? Oh, go on then.
“We cannot just bring boxing back with a dark studio. We have built our product on the razzmatazz, the sexiness and the drama. It has all been about building that moment for a fight, so we cannot afford to just bring people out like a game show.
“We want to create a gladiatorial environment that will not only ensure compelling viewing but will also ensure fighters can perform at the highest level.”
Hearn still has several complex issues to resolve, particularly around testing and isolation, but he remains in talks with the British Boxing Board of Control, Brentwood council and the WBC.
“It is a huge mission. We are going to turn our headquarters here into an outdoor venue for live boxing, with a full canopy in the middle of the garden and the ring overlooking London,” he added. “We are building changing rooms for the fighters, setting up a space for a ring walk, and figuring out how we can do everything you need for this kind of production with as few people as possible.
“We are in talks with a nearby hotel about taking control of it for each of the weeks. The way it will work is everyone involved — the fighters, their teams, the broadcasters — will go into the hotel on Tuesday and the fighter and their team will go to a testing facility at the hotel.
“You will go in, get tested, be handed a room key and go straight to your room, where you will wait until you get the result of the test.
“The tests are comprehensive and they take 24 hours, so the fighter will stay in their room until they get a call from our doctors, likely on the Wednesday, with their results.
“If they are positive, they will leave the hotel immediately. If they are not, they are able to leave their room and take part in the obligations of fight week, all with social distancing.
“Everyone involved in the show, from top to bottom, will have to go through that process before they are allowed on to our premises.
“In terms of fight-week promotion, that is the other side of the challenge. How do you do the media around it? Obviously we cannot have dozens of journalists turning up and sitting shoulder to shoulder for a presser and a weigh-in like normal.
“So we need to decide how it will go — it is likely that Zoom interviews and social media live streams with the fighters and journalists will be the new norm, and pumping out clips of the fighters around the clock, building up to the weigh-ins on the grounds on Fridays and the fights on Saturdays.”
By Peter Hanson