Local professional boxing could be back on the cards by September but the financial viability of staging tournaments under restrictive Covid-19 regulations and health protocols will remain an inhibiting factor.
With a pot of talented young fighters on their books still kicking their heels and keeping fit under lockdown conditions due to the coronavirus shutdown, licenced promoters worldwide have seen the urgency to keep them busy within government guidelines and restrictions.
On the home front, Golden Gloves are waiting to sound the opening bell at the earliest opportunity once lockdown restrictions are eased.
Promoter Rodney Berman confirmed this week that negotiations were at an advanced stage with broadcaster SuperSport to stage two in-studio tournaments on consecutive nights in September, subject to both government and Boxing South Africa (BSA) approval.
“Ordinarily it would be permissible under level two lockdown conditions and I am optimistic by the end of July we will be able to make a call,” Berman said.
“It takes a minimum of six to eight weeks for fighters to get into prime condition for a fight.
“We also have contingency plans in place and will stick strictly to the health protocols and guidelines from Boxing South Africa (BSA).”
Golden Gloves revealed details on their website of a proposed cruiserweight Super-4 shootout dubbed ‘Who will Prevail?’ featuring unbeaten WBA Pan-African champion Akani Phuzi against Chris Thompson and Lebo Mashitoa versus Keaton Gomes.
Add to that the stalled 4@War junior middleweight final, which was supposed to have taken place in March, and throw in a vastly trimmed undercard, and that would make up the proposed live television offering.
Branden Thysse and Boyd Allen emerged victorious in the 4@War semifinals in December. Thysse scored a seventh-round knockout victory over Roarke Knapp and Allen stunned Tristan Truter with a 10th round TKO triumph.
Due to a restriction on the number of people permitted in an arena by social distancing protocols, the number of fights, officials and corner-men will be limited, hence the reason for a “split” bill.
If the latest ambitious in-studio project falls through, a provisional date has been booked in November, but even under level two lockdown protocols, it is likely to be staged behind closed doors.
Loss of revenue generated by a live gate impacts the bottom line, and for the survival of the sport post Covid-19, promoters may have to absorb some heavy financial body blows.
In addition, most promoters rely heavily on sponsorships, and with the prevailing economic climate these are difficult to secure.
Not taking into account expenses incurred for BSA and sanctioning body fees, officials and medical staff, the purses alone for the two televised events runs to R1.5 million.
“The saddest thing though is that fighters’ purses are going to have to be reduced – not drastically – but noticeably,” Berman said.