By: Hans Themistode
Dark lighting and empty seats inside of boxing venues have quickly become the new norm.
Just three months ago, the sport of boxing was put on a COVID-19 induced hiatus. Pugilism was replaced with soap operas and old television shows from the 90s. While they were appreciated, boxing was sorely missed.
The thought of the sport returning sometime this year seemed far fetched with the deadly virus refusing to slow down. Despite that, promoter Bob Arum and his Top Rank stable set in place the guidelines that would allow them to come back. That they did, but things looked and felt vastly different.
There were no more obnoxious fans caught on camera giving the middle finger, nor were there any that stood on their feet whenever a big shot landed. No, they were substituted for blacked out backgrounds or in other cases, old fight posters.
For the most part, fans didn’t seem to care. Fights were back on the big screen and that’s all that mattered. Nevertheless, promoter Eddie Hearn couldn’t stand it. Matchroom Boxing’s head man took notes and began putting the pieces in place to return his fighters to the new COVID-19 boxing world.
This global pandemic may have placed a hinderance on much of the sport, but for Hearn, he used it to his advantage. And with that being said, “Fight Camp” was born.
First thing in the morning, Hearn would stretch out and be awoken, not by the sound of birds chirping, but by the sounds of bodies hitting the canvas as he built an entire arena in the backyard of his once childhood home turned Matchroom headquarters.
Headlining the first event of his outdoor venture would be a pair of fringe 154 pound contenders in Sam Eggington and Ted Cheeseman. Other than the obvious egg and cheese breakfast joke’s that were told at nausea, both fighters put on an eye pleasing show. In between watching fists fly through the night, green grass and Matchroom employees could be seen in the background.
Hearn’s plan is creative, but not unseen throughout boxing history. Fights have always been done in this way. Friends would gather around a pair of pissed off young adults and watch them settle their differences in a bloody way behind the home of a close friend. Whether you get your ass kicked in the most embarrassing way, or you walked away as the winner, backyard fights have always been a part of both pugilism and fighting history. The StubHub arena in Carson California, has been the home to outdoor boxing events on the west coast for decades. But despite the long outdoor boxing history, nothing has ever been done quite in this way.
“Fight Camp” is essentially Eddie Hearn’s professional backyard brawls. For the entire month of August and possibly even longer, Matchroom’s head man will continue to host events there. His vision has become a reality, and although he expressed extreme satisfaction with his first event, the jury is still out on whether or not fans of the sport are completely receptive to his idea.