Eddie Hearn envisions a capacity crowd in excess of 60,000 in attendance September 25 for the Anthony Joshua-Oleksandr Usyk fight at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
Joshua’s promoter is less certain of what will be required of fans that purchase tickets. Hearn hopes that the British government doesn’t impose rules requiring vaccine passports for entry, a possibility according to British prime minister Boris Johnson’s statements on what was declared “Freedom Day” on Monday in the United Kingdom.
The heavyweight title battle between England’s Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) and Ukraine’s Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) wasn’t officially announced until Tuesday because organizers of the event weren’t assured that Tottenham Hotspur FC’s stadium would be available at full capacity until Monday.
“I mean, we’re led by the rules and restrictions and regulations,” Hearn told IFL TV during an interview posted Tuesday to its YouTube channel. “I don’t believe that a vaccine passport is feasible, or even lawful, quite frankly. But that’s another chat. What I saw [Monday] was that there would be pressure, if you like, on event promoters and people behind large gatherings to work to some kind of vaccine passport at the end of September. So again, it’s always moving parts. I, personally, wouldn’t like to see that in place. And I don’t know if it’s actually lawfully possible to be introduced. Who knows? But certainly, we’ve had, at the moment, no notification.”
Most coronavirus restrictions were lifted Monday in the UK for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020. Johnson still suggested that proof of full vaccination could be required of those that attend large gatherings and big events by the end of September because two-plus months would give those that aren’t fully vaccinated time to take those protective measures before forcing citizens to provide vaccine passports.
Regardless, Hearn anticipates a crowd of roughly 20,000 for a card headlined by the Josh Warrington-Mauricio Lara rematch September 4 at Headingley Rugby Stadium in Leeds, England, Warrington’s hometown.
“Already in September, you know, we’ve got 20,000 at Headingley for Warrington against Lara and Katie Taylor [against Jennifer Han],” Hearn continued. “And now over 60,000 at Tottenham Hotspur for AJ against Usyk. And we’ve had no guidance that vaccine passports have got to be available or shown, whether there’s a negative test has to be shown, similar to what you saw at the Euros [soccer tournament] or whatever. But I thought the whole idea of ‘Freedom Day’ was that things were returning back to normal. So, we have full approval to full capacity for that event and, of course, the Headingley event as well.”
Hearn obviously is hopeful that vaccine passports won’t be required of customers that purchase tickets for the Joshua-Usyk.
“I don’t believe that will be the case,” Hearn said. “But I know that, obviously, from the ‘Freedom Day,’ we now have approval for September the 4th for 20,000 at Headingley and full capacity at Tottenham Hotspur on September the 25th. So, we shall crack on. We shall fill up the stadiums, and we shall start bringing big-time boxing events back to the UK, because it’s much-needed.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.