The show will have to go on in England, even momentarily without the services of its lead promoter.
Matchroom Boxing returns to the United Kingdom market this weekend, presenting its first card since the entertaining four week “Fight Camp” series which took place over the summer. Sunday’s card from Marshall Arena at Stadium MK in Milton Keynes, England will take place without the services—for the moment—of managing director Eddie Hearn, who tested positive for COVID-19.
“Gutted to just find out I tested positive for Covid-19 today and have to leave the bubble immediately,” Hearn revealed via social media on Thursday. “Thankfully all other tests were negative.
“Heading home to rest - catch up tomorrow.”
Fortunately, all 12 boxers tested negative for Sunday’s show, which is headlined by a regional title fight between 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist Joshua Buatsi (12-0, 10KOs) and Croatia’s Marko Calic (11-0, 6KOs) in a battle of unbeaten light heavyweights.
Also on the card, unbeaten junior welterweights Chantelle Cameron (12-0, 7KOs) and Adriana dos Santos Araujo (6-0, 1KO) collide for the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) 140-pound title. The belt was made available after prior claimant Jessica McCaskill opted to vacate in favor of remaining at welterweight, where she currently serves as the undisputed champion.
Upon having to leave the bubble, Hearn will not be available for fight week activities absent proof of a false positive. Event handlers noted to BoxingScene.com the likelihood of Frank Smith, CEO of Matchroom Boxing manning Friday’s final pre-fight press conference.
Sunday’s card marks the first in the UK since August 22, which featured the leading candidate for 2020 Knockout of the Year as Alexander Povetkin flattened Dillian Whyte in the 5th round of their interim heavyweight title fight. The card also produced a Fight of the Year-level war between reigning World lightweight champion Katie Taylor and former titlist Delfine Persoon, with Taylor scoring a 10-round decision win more than 14 months after barely edging Persoon in their first meeting last June in New York City.
The August 22 show anchored a four-weekend series staged from Matchroom Boxing’s outdoor property in Brentwood, England, with each card offering its own entry among the year’s best fights.
Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing has since announced four more UK shows to air on Sky Sports platforms and DAZN this fall beginning with the October 4 show.
Two more cards have been confirmed, both on October 23 A tripleheader from Mexico City featuring four-division titlist Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez and reigning lineal 115-pound champ Juan Francisco Estrada in separate title defense will air live on DAZN, as will a show from Milan, Italy. Matchroom Boxing USA is also working on plans which could feature up to three stateside shows all in November.
Hearn’s positive coronavirus test marks the first such occurrence for a Matchroom show in the UK and just the second for any Matchroom Boxing-branded event. Former amateur standout Marc Castro was forced to put his pro debut on hold after testing positive for COVID, strangely for a fight versus aptly named Raul Corona.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox