The Boxing industry has been put on lockdown since March, where shows and venues have been going ahead without a crowd. Giulio Magliano explains the consequences of having no spectators and how it affects the purses of fighters.
What is the impact of the Boxing industry having empty venues without a gate?
There hasn’t been a boxing event with a full capacity since the lockdown started back in 2020, and many boxers had to adjust to that new environment.
The lack of boxing fans in a venue undoubtedly affects the performance of a fighter because the boxers feel the peak of adrenaline through the roaring fans, and others may believe that they no longer would feel the pressure of stage fright. Then again, the more experienced fighter would lose that aura of invincibility in your home territory.
Therefore, we have been seeing more upsets in boxing during lockdown, such as Alexander Povetkin beating Dillian Whyte by KO (the number one contender at the time) or Teofimo Lopez beating pound-for-pound great Vasyl Lomachenko.
During lockdown, the promoters and broadcasters knew that they were on the verge of losing viewership and pay-per-view numbers and therefore had to prepare exciting fights that fans could not on television. The stakeholders had to negotiate highly anticipated fights that would drive up pay-per-view numbers that would keep that consumers happy.
What sort of effect does the lockdown have on the fighters?
Most fighters coming out of lockdown would have been out of the ring for at least a year and acquired some ring rust with it, so they would not have been in their best performance return on different shows. Most importantly is what will happen with small hall shows across the country.
Before COVID, the vast majority of fighters would box in smaller showers varying between 1000-5000 attendees and the fighters would receive their purse using the gate profits. Now the Joshua’s Fury’s or other PPV stars of this world need not worry too much about gates as they depend on PPV numbers to pay their purses.
However, the less recognized boxers now have no crowd and depend primarily on broadcasters and promoters to pay their purses. Boxers subsequently needed to find another job in order to pay their bills and put their boxing career on a halt.
Unique environments becoming the norm
During fight week, many promoters had to change the schedule and fortunately, saved them some money in the budget that back then were necessary to promote and sell the fight such as the numerous press conferences, public workouts and security. Then again, many had to transfer their costs to COVID testing and adapting the venue set-up.
In the current environment, once the fighters arrive to the hotel, they get tested immediately. Once they have been tested, they will be escorted to their rooms and will remain in isolation until the results come back and have to stay in the area until fight night. Unfortunately, there have been cases where fighters or trainers have been tested positive and had to either cancel the fight until further notice.
When it comes for international fighters coming into the U.K., they receive an athlete exemption by the government to travel for sport.
What will the situation be in the upcoming future?
In this current situation, promoters still have implemented the same measurements they have been using for the past 4 months in the boxing industry. Unfortunately, the U.K. government announced their second lockdown on the 5th of November until the 2nd of December. We have had some uplifting news with Pfizer announcing their vaccine which potentially opens up the idea of hosting shows, but not all at once.
Once infections slow down and decrease, promotional companies will submit a seating plan to the government that is socially distanced and considered safe for the public.
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