13 March 2020

Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn refuses to rule out shows behind closed doors amid coronavirus pandemic

Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has admitted he 'does not like' the idea of events behind closed doors but insists it could be an option due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It was announced today that all elite football in England will be suspended until April 3, while several other sports such as golf, tennis, Formula 1 and cricket have also suffered major postponements.

And while Hearn is optimistic Matchroom's events will still take place, he is also quick to establish it is ultimately not their decision.

"Everything is completely out of our hands. We're led by the government. At the moment it's business as usual," he said.

"I do stress to fans don't panic. Anything you've got a ticket for that is cancelled or anything you buy a ticket for that is cancelled you will receive a refund in full.

"I think it's the short term stuff that is going to be under most threat. I'm more concerned right now about March 28 at The 02, April 4 in Newcastle. The Premier League and EFL stuff is encouraging in a sense where we have a date where things are supposed to go back to normal. But again, it's completely out of our hands."

A number of football matches have recently taken place behind closed doors, including huge Champions League knockout ties.

And although it is something Hearn has all but ruled out for the huge events featuring Anthony Joshua, Oleksandr Usyk and Dillian Whyte, he says he does feel a sense of duty to his fighters to try put on shows regardless of whether or not a crowd is present.

"I don't like it (shows behind closed doors)," he added. "Two problems with that. Number one is boxing is a sport built on that energy, those great moments when the crowd goes crazy and everyone's in the stands singing Sweet Caroline.

"Also, the bigger shows are gate dependent in terms of the money for the shows - to pay the fighters, to make sure everything is taken care of, for the undercard. So, when you start talking about AJ, Usyk, Whyte, yeah the crowd is very dependent to the success of that event.

"When you start talking about the smaller stuff, might be the Doncaster card with Terri Harper and Natasha Jonas, that's in Doncaster Dome that holds 1400 people. So, we don't know what sanctions will be imposed by the government.

"If we have to stage events behind closed doors to ensure we can provide content for our TV partners and more importantly provide fights and opportunities for our fighters, it's something we'll definitely look at."

Currently, Hearn's shows on March 28 at The 02 and April 4 at the Newcastle Utilita Arena are still going ahead, with fans still able to buy tickets to see the likes of Josh Kelly, Lewis Ritson and Savannah Marshall.

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