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Eddie Hearn reveals plans to resume boxing events, literally in his own backyard

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Forget Fight Island, we’ve got Fight Garden coming up!

Oleksandr Usyk and Derek Chisora Press Conference Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

It’s been relatively quiet on the boxing front in terms of a resumption of events amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but plans are slowly starting to take shape.

Top Rank intends to get back in action on June 9th, Showtime Boxing (along with Bellator MMA, by the way) is looking at a July return from Studio City, CA, but what about Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing? Well if you like the idea of Fight Island... here’s Fight Garden?

Hearn told the Daily Mail of a big plan to restart his fight schedule in mid-July, running live cards for four consecutive weeks in the back garden of his childhood mansion turned Matchroom headquarters in Brentwood, Essex, England. It’ll be called “Matchroom Fight Camp” and the article includes artist renderings of the layout — ring, dressing rooms, media set-up, etc.

“We cannot just bring boxing back with a dark studio,” Hearn said. “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 gameshow.

“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.”

Unlike the UFC, which is still running full 10-12 fight lineups during the pandemic, many boxing cards are expected to be reduced to 4-5 bouts to adhere to local or national guidelines on gatherings at a single event. Based on what the British Boxing Board of Control has outlined for promoters when they do restart, ring card girls and ring announcers won’t be involved.

The United Kingdom has been ravaged by coronavirus, with the third-most confirmed cases in the world at roughly 250,000, and their 34,000+ deaths is the most outside of the United States. In terms of sports in the country, the Premier League is gearing up for a resumption of its season, but major boxing and MMA promotions remain on the shelf until at least the summer, with the BBBofC suspending sanctioning of combat sports through the end of May.

As is the case for other sports — individual or team — the availability of testing is a key factor in running these shows. Hearn outlined those plans, along with how they would handle a positive test.

“We are in talks with a nearby hotel about taking control of it for each of the weeks,” Hearn said. “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.”

The most notable fight on the docket that could head to Matchroom Fight Camp is a heavyweight bout between Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin. Women’s boxing star Katie Taylor may also compete, while Terri Harper and Natasha Jonas could have an all-British women’s boxing world title clash. One potential snag is that the BBBofC suggested no championship fights be held, as that requires extra personnel, but Hearn is hoping for a workaround.

In total, Hearn envisions a maximum of 90 people needed at his events, which he says will cost a total of £1 million.

Maybe this is why Dana White is so complimentary towards Hearn in ways that he absolutely isn’t with other boxing promoters. It also helps that Hearn, despite his own criticism of when the UFC wanted to return sooner, has much respect for Dana.

Anyway, be on the lookout for Fight Island and Fight Garden, coming to a television or streaming service near you!