Frank Warren has been first out of the blocks to announce a UK boxing show after the Coronavirus lockdown has been eased. The Hall of Fame promoter talked to Boxing Social about his July 10 show and the sport’s return in the UK…
Frank Warren has seen and done pretty much everything it’s possible to see and do in boxing – but the long-time promoter, now 68, admits that boxing has never quite faced a challenge like Covid-19.
“To start with, I thought the way things were going with the virus nothing might happen his year,” he told Boxing Social. “But now we are getting fights out sooner than some expected and I’m a little bit more optimistic.
“My concern is there might be a second spike like in some other countries that could lead to everyone being back in a lockdown situation. So we have to be very careful and make sure what we are doing is right.”
Warren’s Queensberry Promotions return with a bang on Friday 10 July with a BT Sport Studio show in Stratford, headlined by an intriguing British and Commonwealth super-bantamweight title clash between Brad Foster (12-0-2, 5 KOs) and James Beech Jr. (12-0, 2 KOs).
“They’re both undefeated and on paper it looks like it’s going to be a cracker,” Warren says. “It’s a real chance for them both to shine. They’re going to get a lot of exposure. Out of bad comes good as far as some fighters are concerned and, with the big names not out yet, these guys have got a chance to really kick-start their careers and profile.
“Most of all, I’m pleased we’ve got some stuff going on and fingers crossed it all goes well. I’m really pleased to be back. Boxing needs to have some profile and relevance. It’s important that we are out there, but out there within a safe environment. So I’m delighted that fighters can start to fight again because if they can’t fight they can’t earn any income.”
The fact that Queensberry Promotions have been first out of the traps to announce a UK show is clearly a source of pride for Warren.
“We’ve been determined to get a show on as soon as it was safe to do it. Everyone’s worked very hard behind the scenes. I’m really proud of what everyone has done. It’s tough and the situation is evolving the whole time,” he said.
“We’re going to do five shows very quickly. And, by late September, we hope to have done at least 10 shows. BT have been very supportive.”
With Warren’s eagerly awaited heavyweight clash between Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce also now rescheduled for October 24 at the O2 Arena, the promoter believes that other big fights and big names will soon follow before 2020 is over.
“I can’t see many of the big names wanting to sit it out until next year if all goes to plan,” said Warren. “Nobody promotes shows in January. So if people don’t come back soon they’ll be sat out for another six or seven months and I can’t see that.”
Warren also gave his thoughts on how behind closed doors boxing should be packaged for TV viewers.
“We’re in the studio and what we have to do now for the fans watching on TV is give them an experience,” he said. “As far as the director of the show is concerned, there’s no crowd to film and an opportunity to be a bit creative and innovative.
“We don’t want it to look sterile with tables six metres back, people sat with masks and so on. I don’t want that look. I want people to focus on the fights and the fighters. All that matters is what is going on in the ring.
“Fireworks and ring walks mean nothing. Without a live crowd to respond to them, they’re pointless. It’s all about what goes on in the ring. That’s what counts. The fireworks need to be in the ring. And, for me, it’s all about making competitive fights.”
Warren admitted he has watched the recent raft of Top Rank/ESPN shows from the ‘bubble’ in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas with interest.
“Top Rank have gone out and done what they’ve had to do. We’ve seen that and want to improve on it and give people an even better experience,” he said.
Finally, Warren admitted that although lockdown has been frustrating, he has a great deal to be thankful for.
“I’ve been doing a little bit of exercise, I’ve been reading, listening to music and obviously talking to a lot of people on the phone. Lately, of course, it’s been better because I’ve been able to see the grandkids,” he said.
“Like everyone, I’ve just had to get on with it and obviously there’s a lot of people in far worse situations, that’s for sure. I grew up in a council flat and you wouldn’t want to be stuck in a council flat with three or four kids through all this. That must be soul destroying, so I’m quite lucky really.”