THE FRANK WARREN COLUMN
By Frank Warren
WE FIND OURSELVES somewhere in the midst of highly unusual and trying times at the moment. For people in boxing – fighters, trainers and promoters – it is no different. Our working world has stopped too.
We all just have to do the right thing. Follow the instructions, stay in, sit tight, while at the same time offer up thoughts and prayers to those more deeply affected on a daily basis.
It all got a bit closer to home for us at Queensberry with the news that Anthony Yarde’s father fell victim to coronavirus. It goes without saying that we will do everything we can to help Anthony and his family through this difficult time, but as Anthony himself took time out to express on social media, the main thing we can all do to help others is to stay home and, where possible, avoid contact with the outside world.
It almost seems a bit churlish to talk about boxing with everything else going on around us, but it is the business we are in and followers of the sport will doubtless appreciate a distraction from the seemingly endless cycle of doom across the news channels.
The top and bottom of it from the promotional side of the game is that the phone is still ringing all the time and fights are being discussed and made. What we cannot do at the moment is allocate a time or place for putting them on.
Even without the certainty boxers bank on during training programmes, it is important they keep themselves in decent shape during this enforced period of downtime. When we get the green light to get going again it is the ones who are ready and have shown the discipline that will reap the immediate rewards.
There are a couple of things that people who are thinking out loud about when boxing will be able to resume need to consider.
It is not just a case of a few restrictions being lifted and off we go.
The gyms need to reopen for starters and fighters need to be allowed within glove to pad distance to their trainers. Another big consideration is sparring. For big fights it is typical that the appropriate sparring partners are drafted in from across the world.
Current border restrictions in many countries would make this impossible.
We’ve got our huge Daniel Dubois-Joe Joyce collision booked in for July 11 and we are hoping we can get it on if the situation has improved by then, but there would need to be an easing of restrictions in the weeks leading up to this.
Aside from this we have held back from publicly releasing our other dates we have booked because until there is some good news over a resumption of normal activities it would be a pointless exercise.
With the predicament we are all in there will be an inevitable stockpile of shows that will have to be allocated to a restricted pool of dates and venues. I have been asked about this in recent interviews in respect of being fair on the fans should there be any clashes and – my position has always been clear on this – it is never ideal.
However, the most important people in all this at the moment are the fighters and they need to earn money. We are in exceptional circumstances and we simply have to try and make the best of it. Fighters need to fight and broadcasters need live content for their subscribers.
Of course we won’t seek to engineer date clashes because it is never in anyone’s best interests but the most important thing when the time comes will be to get the sport up and running again.
I KNOW THAT the thought of me and a podcast would have been considered an unlikely alliance a few years back, but I have always been one who tries to move with the times and producing Frank Warren’s Heavyweight Podcast has been an enjoyable experience.
Hopefully the listeners are enjoying it too because we have come up with a heavyweight line-up so far from across various professionals, including Tyson Fury and Ricky Hatton from our business, the former Leader of the House of Commons, John Bercow, plus Piers Morgan, who is never short of a few words on any given subject.
The most recent release with UFC supremo Dana White is a compelling listen and, while I don’t go along with all his thoughts on the sport of boxing, he certainly doesn’t pull any punches in his assessment of where our game is at.
Next week we’ve got my old promotional sparring partner Bob Arum on to chew the fat over his 60 years making fights and, in the coming weeks, I am particularly looking forward to putting Alastair Campbell on the spot.
Give it a listen while we’ve all got time on our hands.