BRITISH boxing is on course to return this summer, but only if our NHS champions are back on their feet.
Worldwide sport has been floored by the Covid-19 pandemic and the British Boxing Board of Control has banned all bouts until June, at the earliest.
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The UK’s leading promoters, Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren, are exploring how to get fights on either behind closed doors or in countries where lockdown laws are relaxed sooner.
But even if the lockdown is eased tomorrow, BBBofC secretary Robert Smith admits it is likely to take an additional month to ensure fighters can be protected by fully-fit medics.
Smith told SunSport: “People are talking about behind-closed-doors shows, as a way of getting boxing started.
“That is more than likely the way forward, once we approve a venue. But then there is a lot of work that has to go into it.
“We would have to put plans in place for all the boxers and officials to be tested, as well as the other people who will be working at the show.
“I am in constant discussions with our medical team about what sort of testing would be needed, how and when it would be done and what additional protective clothing or masks will be needed.
“I am very hopeful we can start again in the summer, once social distancing restrictions are reduced, but we will not restart until it is safe.
“Even if the Government lifted restrictions tomorrow, we are not going to hold fights the next day.
“I think it will take between four and six weeks to get everyone up to speed and everything ready.”
HIT THE SCREENS
Sky Sports and BT are eager to get shows on for the thousands at home glued to TV.
And the idea of holding bouts, like the heavyweight contest between Derek Chisora and Oleksandr Usyk, or Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce inside fan-free studios is a viable one.
But the list of things to be checked and double checked is far more arduous than finding a spot for fighters to meet.
Smith explained: “At a regular event, at somewhere like York Hall, there must be a paramedic ambulance and two doctors.
“If we step up in size to somewhere like the O2, depending on how many fights there are, we would have at least two ambulances.
“Normally there would be four doctors — and two of those would be specialists.
“When we did the last Wembley show with Anthony Joshua we had six doctors, three of those were specialists and three or four ambulances.
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“So we will not be putting that sort of strain on the NHS any time soon. It is a jigsaw puzzle we are trying to put together.
“I am constantly talking to doctors and we have gone over all the things that are and are not allowed and all the things that could go wrong.
“But the final word remains with the Government.”