‘Even AJ wanted to be here to fight – I think he will be here in some capacity… We are back and it will culminate with Whyte v Povetkin’
Anthony Joshua "wants in" on Eddie Hearn’s novel fights in the back garden as the promoter on Friday announced the schedule for ‘Fight Camp’ based at Essex’s Matchroom HQ, beginning on Saturday August 1.
However, heavyweight world champion Joshua, holder of the WBA, IBF and WBO belts, currently has a knee injury and was precluded from fighting at the behind-closed-doors event in the grounds of the 15-acre manor house in Brentwood. Over a four-week period from August 1, Sky Sports in the UK and digital sports platform DAZN in the USA will broadcast the first three weekends, and then in the final week a pay-per-view event headlined by heavyweight rivals Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin, with Katie Taylor defending her world lightweight crown – against an opponent yet to be named – will be shown live on Sky Sports Box Office.
It will be an interesting experiment to see if boxing aficionados are prepared to pay for the one-off events of five fights as Hearn’s boxing outfit returns for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown. “We’ve got Madison Square Garden as a venue in our sport and now we have Matchroom Square Garden”, said a buoyant Hearn on Friday.
“Even ‘AJ’ wanted to be here and wanted to fight on the lawn. I think he will be here in some capacity, even if he watches from the office. But we are back and it will culminate with Whyte and Povetkin here on the lawn. We’ve been working diligently with the Boxing Board of Control for three months and we have the guidelines and procedures for the sport to resume safely. Fighters won’t be able to get inside the bubble without testing negative for Covid-19.”
On Aug 1, Sam Eggington (28-6, 17 KOs) puts his IBF International super-welterweight title on the line against Ted Cheeseman (15-2-1, 9 KOs), while Belfast’s James Tennyson (26-3, 22 KOs) takes on Cardiff’s Gavin Gwynne (12-1, 2 KOs) for the vacant British Lightweight title.
Also on the first card Jordan Gill (24-1, 7 KOs) meets Watford’s Reece Bellotti (14-3, 12 KOs) at featherweight. On Friday August 7, Terri Harper (10-0, 5 KOs) will make a defence of the women’s WBC and IBO super-featherweight world titles against British rival Natasha Jonas (9-1, 7 KOs).
With one event the following week, ‘Fight Camp’ will conclude on Saturday August 22, when Whyte (27-1, 18 KOs) defends his WBC Interim heavyweight world title against the Russian Povetkin (35-2-1, 24 KOs), as the Brixton fighter looks to challenge Tyson Fury or Joshua next year.
Hearn added: “Whyte is on the cusp of fighting for the WBC title (currently held by Fury). Whyte wants a shot at Fury, but has to get through this tricky fight against Povetkin, and AJ wants to fight Fury, too, as we know. We are still looking to deliver the biggest fight in boxing in 2021.”
The first boxing to return in the UK since the coronavirus pandemic will be under the rival promotional of Frank Warren on July 10, inside BT Sport’s studios in Stratford, East London.