Coronavirus: Boxing promoters may disappear and spitting rules clarified

By Luke ReddyBBC Sport boxing reporter
Manny Pacquiao spits into a bucket
The British Boxing Board of Control has clarified rules on spitting

British boxing bosses are braced for promoters going out of business because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The sport is shut down in the UK until July, when it is hoped a return can be fashioned at behind-closed-door events.

The British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) has "concerns" for promoters who deliver shows without television revenue and expects "casualties".

The board has also clarified rules over a proposed ban on the use of spit buckets when boxing resumes.

Last week, in a consultation document sent to promoters, the BBBofC included a line which read: "no spitting from boxers when in corners".

The statement prompted confusion among some within the sport and in a guidance document now sent to licence holders and seen by BBC Sport, new rules have been provided.

The document states that every boxer on a fight card will have his or her own "spittoon bucket" which must be "covered with a lid" between rounds.

The exterior of the bucket must be wiped during each round and after its use, and should be bleached by someone wearing a face mask, eye protection, a long-sleeve fluid repellent gown and disposable gloves.

When boxing resumes, event organisers will also need to ensure the ring steps, ring ropes and canvas are cleaned "to a medical standard" between fights on any card.

The BBBofC has previously stated a maximum of five fights will be allowed on a card when the sport resumes.

"We have to keep things as sterile as possible," BBBofC general secretary Robert Smith told the 5 Live Boxing Podcast.

"What we were really saying is - as you know if you've been to boxing and see boxers spitting on the canvas - we are the same as other sports like football, where they are being discouraged from spitting during the action."

'We will lose promoters'

At the moment, promoter Eddie Hearn has shows listed for 27 June in Newcastle and Dillian Whyte's bout with Alexander Povetkin on 4 July. Hearn's fellow promoter Frank Warren has Daniel Dubois v Joe Joyce listed for 11 July.

Smith expects any return for boxing to take place from late July into August given there are still countless hurdles to overcome, not least the fact fighters cannot share gym space in order to spar.

When fight nights do take place, it is almost certain they will be delivered by a promoter with television backing as those organising the non-televised events that take place across the UK each week will be unable to sell tickets and generate any revenue.

Last year the BBBofC oversaw 270 shows and Smith said the "vast majority" were delivered by promoters who do not have television backing.

"They do a fantastic job but they need bums on seats to make any money," Smith added. "So we do have concerns on whether they can come back.

"I would say if we go behind closed doors, promoters are going to take a big financial hit.

"But they have contracts with TV companies and we want to get boxing back on TV.

"Unfortunately we will lose some. That is a business. If they are strong enough, they will survive, if they are not, we will lose some. We are trying to help some where we can but we don't have an endless money pit. It's not nice to say but there will be casualties but the strong will get through it."

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