Boxing Board insist bringing overseas fighters to the UK is 'at the risk of the promoter'

Gareth A Davies
The Telegraph
Alexander Povetkin looks on during a press conference with Anthony Joshua ahead of their fight at Wembley Stadium on July 18, 2018 in London, England - Getty Images
Alexander Povetkin looks on during a press conference with Anthony Joshua ahead of their fight at Wembley Stadium on July 18, 2018 in London, England - Getty Images

Eddie Hearn's plan to bring overseas heavyweight Alexander Povetkin to face Dillian Whyte for an Interim World Boxing Council heavyweight title on the lawns of Matchroom Sports Essex offices "will be at the risk of the promoter", Robert Smith, Boxing Board of Control general secretary insisted on Monday.

However, Smith revealed to Telegraph Sport that he has written to the world's sanctioning bodies informing them that there will be all British judges and referees at the proposed contests, and re-affirmed that the guidelines are still to have all-British contests.

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It comes after promoter Hearn unveiled plans to stage four fight nights on consecutive Saturdays in late July and August on the 15-acre grounds, with five fights on each card, the climax on the fourth weekend planned to be Whyte's fight against the Russian Povetkin in the first or second Saturday in August.

That would be a pay-per-view event on Sky Box Office designed to meet the cost of staging the twenty contests, underwriting the estimated one million pounds Matchroom Boxing will spend on staging the event, including COVID-19 testing.

Initially, under the boxing authority guidelines, the Boxing Board had ruled out championship fights behind closed doors. Smith, the BBBofC told Telegraph Sport: "It is as it stands, and the promoters are aware of this. We will get to the first week, see how it goes and make our decision from there. The key is that we are satisfied after the first week that it works, that the safety principles work, and we will then look at the possibility of an overseas fighter. So much can change between then and now."

"I have written to  the world's sanctioning bodies that all officials will be British but will have affiliations to the sanctioning bodies whose belts will be contested as we go forward," Smith said.

"But I repeat, if a promoter wants to bring an overseas fighter here and have them tested and quarantined, that is their gamble, because we are going to follow restrictions and guidelines from the government, if they change. We have made the promoters aware of that. The key now moving forward is what the government say on June 1, when the new decisions will be taken."

Frank Smith, CEO of Matchroom Boxing told Telegraph Sport: "There is still so much to do logistically to make this happen, but everyone from the Board to Brentwood Council is working together to make this 28-day period something special. Then, hopefully, we can start to look at smaller arenas as the restrictions change.

"We learnt things from the UFC putting three events on in America over eight days, and I'm sure they learnt things. We want to getting everything as airtight and as safe as possible for everyone concerned. We are talking to Povetkin's team already and there is still a great deal of work to do."

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