Boxing has been offered a route back to Derry by the British Boxing Board of Control [BBBoC].
The Maiden City hasn’t played host to a pro boxing card since Charlie Nash beat Frank McCord in September of 1982.
Former European Champion Paul McCloskey had explored bringing boxing back to the city on numerous occasion during the height of his pro career, the most recent time being 2013, but the BBBoC wouldn’t ratify a fight card in the city.
In addition, Eamonn O’Kane’s clash with Lewis Taylor had hoped to have been in the city but instead took place in Lavey in the west of the county.
This was because BBBoC rules state that any fight venue must be located no more than one hour away from a hospital with a neurosurgical unit. This unit must also be in Northern Ireland, with a block cross-border co-operation meaning that the nearby unit in Letterkenny is not considered.
The closest acceptable facility to Derry City, the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, is not reachable by an ambulance, observing speed limits, in that time frame – meaning pro boxing cannot be ratified by the board.
The Derry boxing drought looked to be on the way out – with the A6 Dungiven to Drumahoe works potentially cutting journey times and solving the issue. That said, the plans are not expected to be finished for another four years.
However, the British Boxing Board of Control have offered a viable and immediate solution. It would mean a promoter having to fork out an extra £10,000, but it is a route for the pro game to return to Derry.
British Boxing Board of Control N. Ireland Area Secretary, John Campbell told the Derry Journal that an Emergency Helicopter service could prove the answer.
With the approval of the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service and promoter willing to pay the bill believed to be in the region of £10,000 an Emergency Helicopter could be on stand by for the duration of a show and provide transport between Derry and Belfast in case of a serious injury.
“The prime reason it was turned down in 2013 was transport,” explained Mr. Campbell.
“What has changed since then is that the helicopters have come into being,” added Campbell before warning of potential helicopter roadblocks.
“If you want to book the helicopter for that night it has to be from the start of the show until the end and that’s a very, very expensive business.”
“You’re talking thousands of pounds and those people are not inclined to be told what to do if they get a call from anywhere in Northern Ireland if there are injured people who need their help. They would get up and go and the tournament gets abandoned.”
“It’s not just a case of paying the money. The chopper service have to say ‘Yes’ and make that chopper available totally for boxing for that night. That’s the way it is.”
“If that was agreed it would be a different matter. It would be considered. Yes, the helicopter can go something like 180 mile an hour and can obviously make Belfast in no time and there’s a landing pad at the Royal where the neuro unit is.”
With the development of Tyrone McCullagh over the last year and the emergence of Sean McGlinchy and Connor Coyle there are some suggesting it’s the perfect time for the sport to return to the city.
Just last weekend McCullagh added the WBO European belt to the BBBoC Celtic title he already held, while super middleweight Sean McGlinchey lost a four-round war to old amateur rival Padraig McCrory. Coyle, currently, is set for a fight in Florida in the new year.