No decision has yet been made on whether or not professional boxing will take place in the UK in January, as the latest omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to spread.
The British Boxing Board of Control has advised all promoters that the sport may be suspended in January, which is usually the quietest month of the year for the sport in the UK, but no final decision has been made while discussions are continuing.
Key to the Board’s decision is whether or not they will be able to have doctors and medical staff at ringside as well as intensive care availability in the case of a serious medical emergency.
Nearly all Board doctors work in the National Health Service. While the omicron variant is believed to be milder than previous strains of Covid-19, its quick spread across the country has resulted in problems for the NHS, not so much with intensive care units being overwhelmed, but with large numbers of staff being off work after testing positive.
The Board are having ongoing discussions with doctors and drawing up a new “operational document”, the blueprint for running shows. It will be the 14th version of the document since boxing recommenced after the first Covid lockdown in July 2020.
The biggest show in January that has been announced is the rearranged Chris Eubank Jr-Liam Williams middleweight fight at the Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, on January 29, which was pushed back from December after Williams injured a shoulder. Tickets remain on sale for the fight, despite the Welsh government having currently stopped crowds of more than 50 from attending sporting events.
While there are no limits on crowds in England – the Amir Khan-Kell Brook fight is in Manchester on February 19 – sporting crowds in Scotland are presently limited to 500, although it seems likely that will change before Josh Taylor’s delayed world super-lightweight title defense against Jack Catterall in Glasgow on February 26.
Matchroom are yet to confirm any dates for 2022, while Queensberry Promotions have also put any announcements on hold. Queensberry had planned to hold a prospects show in January, while heavyweight Joe Joyce had been expected to be in action on February 12. Joyce picked up an injury, though, pushing his return back until the Spring.
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 – covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.