It has been too long since we have had a regular feed of live boxing every weekend, and with lockdown and quarantine restrictions easing, several promoters have begun re-opening their doors — to an extent.
Much like with Dana White and UFC's Fight Island, Matchroom Boxing has created a "Fight Camp" to get back in business.
What is Matchroom Boxing's Fight Camp?
Fight Camp is Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn’s solution to the stoppage of live spectator sports forced by the COVID-19 pandemic. A series of events all staged in relatively quick succession at one location with maximum health and safety precautions.
These events will feature a mixture of fights that were due to take place over the last few months until they were postponed, and some new matchmaking altogether.
Where is Matchroom Boxing's Fight Camp located?
The cards are all being held at Matchroom’s HQ in Brentwood, Essex, England — literally in the back garden of Matchroom's head office.
The site includes a "bubble" in which fighters on that week’s card will undergo COVID-19 testing and isolate until they receive their results in advance of fight night.
What is the Fight Camp schedule?
|Event||Press Conferences||Weigh-in||Fight Night|
|Fight Camp 1||July 30||July 31||August 1|
|Fight Camp 2||August 5||August 6||August 7|
|Fight Camp 3||August 12||August 13||August 14|
|Fight Camp 4||August 20||August 21||August 22|
All press conferences and weigh-ins begin at 1pm BST/8am ET, opening bell on all fight nights set for 7pm BST/2 pm ET.
The press conferences and weigh-ins will all be streamed across Matchroom Boxing social channels. All fight nights are available via DAZN in the U.S. In the U.K., fight nights 1-3 are available on Sky Sports, while fight night 4 is available via Sky Sports Box Office.
Which fights are at Fight Camp?
Fight Camp 1: Sam Eggington vs. Ted Cheeseman
- Fight Camp 1 highlights: Cheeseman gets past Eggington
The four-week festival of boxing begins on Saturday with a card headlined by Sam Eggington (28-6, 17 KOs) defending the IBF International super-welterweight title against Ted Cheeseman (15-2-1, 9 KOs). This one is a big domestic fight Hearn has admitted he probably wouldn’t have booked at this time if not for the pandemic.
“There is no way I’d have made this fight in normal circumstances,” explained Hearn. “Sam has just gone into the top-15 in the world, Cheeseman is coming off a defeat.
“They’ve both looked at it and went ‘we want to make money, we want to roll the dice and be part of this — so we’ll put it on the line’. It’s great news for fans.”
Also on the card for Fight Camp 1 are James Tennyson (26-3, 22 KOs) vs. Gavin Gwynne (12-1, 2 KOs) for the British lightweight championship; Jordan Gill (24-1, 7 KOs) vs. Reece Bellotti (14-3, 12 KOs) in featherweight action; Fabio Wardley (8-0, 7 KOs) vs. Simon Vallily (17-2-1, 7 KOs) for the English heavyweight title; and Dalton Smith (5-0, 4 KOs) vs. Nathan Bennett (9-1, 2 KOs) in the super-lightweight division.
Fight Camp 2: Terri Harper vs. Natasha Jonas
- Fight Camp 2 highlights: Harper, Jonas battle to split draw
The second fight night, on Aug. 7, is headlined by London 2012 Olympian Natasha Jonas’ challenge of WBC and IBO super-featherweight champion Terri Harper in the fight-ever world title fight between two British women.
"There's no pressure on me,” claimed Jonas recently. “She put out a statement the other day saying that there is but I don't believe there is.
“She's the champion, she's got to keep hold of it, she's been very vocal about how she's going to keep hold of it. She's got to go out and prove it.”
Also on the card, Chris Billam-Smith (10-1, 9 KOs) meets Nathan Thorley (14-0, 6 KOs) for the Commonwealth cruiserweight title; Anthony Fowler (12-1, 9 KOs) faces Adam Harper (9-1, 0 KOs) in the super-welterweight ranks; and Hopey Price (2-0, 1 KO) will be in action against Jonny Phillips.
Fight Camp 3: Felix Cash vs. Jason Welborn
- Fight Camp 3: Cash stops Welborn
Aug. 14 sees Jason Welborn (24-8, 7 KOs) take on Commonwealth middleweight kingpin Felix Cash (12-0, 8 KOs) after nearly walking away from the sport last year.
Welborn dropped back down to light-middle to challenge that division’s Commonwealth champion, James Metcalf, last summer. He was on the receiving end of multiple low shots, for which the champion eventually had a point deducted before finishing Welborn off shortly afterward.
“I was going to walk away from the sport,” admitted Welborn. “I thought ‘you know what, I don’t need boxing’.
"It was my wife who made me get back into it. She said ‘that’s my belt, go and get it’. She knows what I’ve done to get here.
“I’ve got more to give the sport and there’s something out there waiting for me. I’m not going out until I know what it is."
Also on the card will be Zelfa Barrett (23-1, 14 KOs) vs. Eric Donovan (12-0, 7 KOs) in super-featherweight action; Shannon Courtnenay (5-0, 2 KOs) vs. (5-1, 0 KOs) in the women’s featherweight ranks; John Docherty (8-0, 6 KOs) vs. Anthony Fox (8-12-4) in super-middleweight action; and Kieron Conway (14-1-1, 3 KOs) vs. Nav Mansouri (20-3-2, 6 KOs) for the WBA Intercontinental super-welterweight title.
Fight Camp 4: Dillian Whyte vs. Alexander Povetkin
- Fight Camp 4: Preview, how to watch
Aug. 22 plays host to the big one of the four-week experiment. Dillian Whyte (27-1, 18 KOs) and Alexander Povetkin (35-2-1, 24 KOs) meet at the third attempt following two pandemic-forced postponements of their heavyweight humdinger for the interim WBC championship.
Initially, the pair were put on collision course for May 2 in London, then it was rescheduled for July 4 in Manchester. Now, Fight Camp could finally ensure this highly-anticipated battle of top contenders goes ahead.
And the card has big chief support, too. Undisputed women’s lightweight champion Katie Taylor (15-0, 6 KOs) defends her hoard of championship belts against Delfine Persoon, whom Taylor defeated just over a year ago at Madison Square Garden on her path to total unification.
On the undercard, Luther Clay (13-1, 5 KOs) defends his WBO global featherweight championship against Chris Kongo (11-0, 6 KOs), Alen Babic (3-0, 3 KOs) faces Shawndell Winters (13-3, 12 KOs) in heavyweight action, and Jack Cullen (18-2, 9 KOs) fights Zak Chelli (7-1, 3 KOs) at super-middleweight.