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Carl Frampton

Impact of coronavirus on professional boxing will be devastating

Carl Frampton


Carl Frampton

Carl Frampton

Carl Frampton

Everybody is being hit by this deadly virus but as my column is primarily about boxing I'm mainly focusing on the impact it will have on the careers of professional fighters - and for many I fear it will be devastating.

I'm fortunate that I have reached a point in my career where I am not fighting from one pay-day to the next to make ends meet but I've been there and I know 90 per cent of the Irish and UK boxers are in that position right now.

Considering how serious this pandemic is, it was obviously the right decision to cancel shows scheduled for the next two months and the reality is we just don't know when boxing will return. My own fight with WBO World super-featherweight champion Jamel Herring was set for June and I will keep ticking over in my gym in the garage - doing weights and hitting the bag - but I can't be sure it will happen. It looks unlikely.

It's such a dire situation for fighters who could quite literally go nine months without pay that I feel the British Boxing Board of Control in conjunction with the top promoters in the UK have to come together and work out how to help their licence holders get through this desperately tough time.

There are up and coming fighters who are fighting for small money as they try to make a name for themselves and that will run out very quickly. Some will already be in debt because they will have been training for bouts that have just been cancelled. Training expenses still have to be paid and that eats into a purse.

Near the end of my amateur career I was living off Christine's student grant and then when I started off as a professional I was getting £1,000 a round, which was decent as some guys start off with that for a fight - or less.

But, still I couldn't wait for the next fight to come around because bills had to be paid and it didn't take long for the bank balance to drop. So, while I'm very fortunate to be in the position I am now, I understand how the majority of boxers are on the breadline.

Journeymen, who keep the sport going, often have a job alongside boxing and they may be able to fall back on that but so many businesses are now under threat that you just don't know.

All boxers are self-employed and just like any other self-employed person, they need the government to be helping them at this point. They need some income and that's where I believe the British Boxing Board of Control must come in and - hopefully with the help of the government - put together a rescue package to help the fighters.

Promoters and television do very well out of the sport so at this critical time I believe they need to step up to the plate and help those without whom there wouldn't not be any boxing business.

It's going to be tough on the promoters and sponsors but something has to be done because livelihoods are at stake and I would appeal to the Board, who have a lot of smart people in their organisation, to come forward with a plan.

Boxing is a very short career and this delay will also be very hard on guys who have gained a bit of momentum in their career. I just hope that we can get through the worst of this virus as quickly as possible so boxing can get going and the careers of top prospects can re-ignite.

I am just keeping the mindset that I will be fighting for the World title in June and at the same time try to stay sane as Christine and I keep Carla and Rossa occupied. All parents will deserve a medal by the time this is over.

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Belfast Telegraph