With the understanding that the Coronavirus pandemic has gripped the globe, and health and safety is a bigger priority than any sport resuming, if the outbreak subsides significantly, the question remains: when will sports at the highest levels resume?
And, there is indication in England on Monday that their most prominent sports league, the Premier League (Soccer) is it least discussing continuing it season this summer after stopped in the second week of March.
And for the sport of boxing and its fans, that may be the precedent setter for it to resume in England/the U.K. later this summer as well.
First, the London Daily Mirror wrote Monday about discussions on going with EPL soccer clubs about potentially resuming their season without fans in the stadiums, as soon as June:
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) April 6, 2020
“Mirror Sport understands there is a tentative agreement for the top flight to resume behind closed doors after the 20 clubs mapped out a plan with senior officials on a resumption of matches.
In principle, with Government health officials hopeful of a coronavirus peak in the UK in the next few weeks, they will sanction games under strict guidelines.
The plan – which has been discussed at the highest level – would see games played under strictly-controlled conditions behind closed doors.
League officials have also discussed extensive measures to keep the players in a sterile environment as much as possible, limiting contact with the wider public.”
Now, this is far from definite, but it’s still a clear indication is that the most popular and lucrative brand of sport in England (and all of Europe), soccer, is wanting to return to at least a resemblance of normalcy, if possible.
Again, that will all be predicated on the stopping of the spread of the COVID-19 virus and most importantly, being able to test everyone involved including the players and any staff that will be required to open stadiums and put on/televise the games.
Now, as it relates to boxing.
The British Boxing Board of Control has suspended the sport in the U.K. through May.
And, we already know that Matchroom Boxing and promoter Eddie Hearn have moved the prominent heavyweight contender battle between England’s Dillian Whyte and Russian Alexander Povetkin from it’s original May 3rd date to July 4th. It is believed that that fight will still be held in the Manchester England Arena and likely, without fans present.
Matchroom has another heavyweight title contender showdown looming with unbeaten former Cruiserweight Champion Oleksandr Usyk scheduled to take on British contender and knockout artist Dereck Chisora. That fight was originally scheduled for May 23rd at London’s O2 Arena, but was also postponed.
It’s now believed that Usyk-Chisora will also be held in July, however, that has not been officially announced by Matchroom.
The biggest of the fights that was scheduled for the U.K. this summer was Unified Heavyweight champion, England’s Anthony Joshua, battling IBF number one contender, Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev.
That fight had been set for London Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on June 20th but, as we wrote, was officially postponed last Friday seeking another date in July or later.
The question becomes: will Matchroom, and the fighters be willing to potentially take less money if there is no live crowd of 70,000 or more that represents tens of millions of dollars in live gate revenue? And rather, would they be willing to simply go off of getting paid from the TV and pay-per-view revenue for the broadcast of the fight?
That may make Joshua and Pulev wait into August or maybe longer into the fall to have a fight in front of fans in an outdoor stadium, if that becomes possible.
We also wrote Saturday about U.S. President Donald Trump holding an unprecedented phone conference call with all of the commissioners of all the pro sports and entertainment leagues in America. In that call, he encouraged them that he was hopeful the that the American football (NFL) season could start on time this September.
Also, reportedly, NBA (basketball) Commissioner Adam Silver, advocated a willingness for his sport to conclude it’s season, even if it meant empty arena’s without fans and t.v. only, to play later this summer.
And, finally, at least there’s optimism on Monday in England, that a plan to resume sports, once it’s reasonable and safer from COVID 19 fears for those involved to do so, is being discussed.