Coronavirus: Changes likely but no fights behind closed doors, says Ingle

Along with the continued uncertainty over fight dates, boxers are also having to make do with staying busy at home due to social distancing restrictions.

Boxing trainer Dominic Ingle.   -  Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic could give boxing "a kick up the backside" when it comes to making fights in the future, according to trainer Dominic Ingle, even if the sport has to wait until September at the earliest for a return to action.

With countries on lockdown due to the global health crisis, bouts scheduled for May, June and July have all been postponed - and there is no clear indication when the situation will improve enough for cards to be scheduled again in 2020.

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Along with the continued uncertainty over fight dates, boxers are also having to make do with staying busy at home due to social distancing restrictions.

A lack of gym time - denying the opportunity to get in pivotal sparring rounds during a training camp - could lead to further delays, though Ingle believes the enforced break may result in a fresh outlook when it comes to negotiating fights, considering the time already lost this year.

"It's a wait-and-see time," Ingle told Stats Perform.

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"Let's say we get to the end of May and the lockdown is lifted, and the fighters have been training anyway, it still gives you about six weeks over boxing's summer break.

"They're probably going to be fit enough, but they want to be in the gyms sparring. For us, six weeks is about right, but others will want to do more rounds sparring and a lot more gym work. Our fighters could be ready in six weeks, because we don't do a lot of sparring anyway.

"Realistically, though, you're looking at the beginning of September."

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On matchmaking, he added: "It may give everyone a kick up the backside to get things moving quicker.

"When you've got a job to do, sometimes you think you've got all the time in the world to do it. This [lockdown] will make people realise that time is of the essence, though.

"It has probably made people see that you can't waste time, whether that's in your career or in life in general."

Staging sporting events being behind closed doors has been talked about as a way of restarting sooner, at least allowing the action to be broadcast to an audience watching on from home.

Ingle, however, is not so keen on that idea for boxing.

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"That kind of defeats the object," he said. "We need an atmosphere at fights, and you're going to need officials anyway, plus a lot of people in the background to make sure the show still works.

"When it [the lockdown] first happened, I thought we were all taking it lightly. Then the realisation kind of hits home. Going into it, people had a bit of a lackadaisical attitude. I think coming out of it, people will be the same.

"They will think things will get back to normal quickly, that we will just be able to put on shows. That's wishful thinking, for me. Realistically, and logistically, I don't think it's going to work like that."

The famous Ingle gym in Sheffield would normally see Kell Brook, Kid Galahad and Liam Williams among the regular visitors, yet the threat of COVID-19 has forced the trainer to keep track on his stable from afar.

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"They've all got workouts to do. We've got them on GPS monitors, so we can see what they are doing and can give them their workouts," Ingle explained. "They do their runs to keep their fitness up, so they will be alright.

"I go 12 to 16 weeks without getting paid, because we get paid at the end of a camp when the fights happen. That's how we've always operated. We have money in reserve, but, for us, this is like another training camp.

"They are always training, obviously, but there is normally a concentrated effort for 10 to 12 weeks [before a bout]. It's almost like we live on lockdown anyway then, as we can't have a social life during that time. You have to be in bed early and get up early, so you are kind of used to this."