Government Roadmap outlines possible boxing return date

The Irish government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business suggests boxing could be back by Monday August 10th.

In document released this evening, a five phase plan charting Ireland’s return to normality.

The document gave some specifics with regard sports and its return.

Sport in Ireland has been on hold since mid-March due to the current pandemic and there have been no pro shows since February 2nd, national amateur competition since February 29th, and all boxing clubs were ordered shut on March 12th.

There were concerns boxing may not return until very late in the year, but according to today’s road map it’s possible there could be action from August onwards.

Realistically fighters will need time to prepare and, with sparring and in-club training seemingly only permitted from August 10th, it’s more likely competitive boxing won’t take place until September at the earliest.

Still, Friday’s document gives genuine clarity on a route back for the first time.

The phases will unfurl (based on a three-week review process) on the following dates:

  • Phase 1: May 18
  • Phase 2: June 8
  • Phase 3: June 29
  • Phase 4: July 20
  • Phase 5: August 10

Phase 5 is relevant to boxing, with the sport being explicitly mentioned. The measures outlined from August 10 are:

  • Permit close physical contact sports (rugby, boxing, wrestling)
  • Open gyms, exercise, dance studios and sports clubs, only where regular and effective cleaning can be carried out and social distancing can be maintained.
  • Permit sports spectatorship which involve mass gatherings only in accordance with both indoor and outdoor numbers restrictions and where social distancing can be complied with.

In terms of the amateurs, the IABA is a cross-border organisation and currently there has been no equivalent roadmap issued by the British government.

Should UK restrictions be loosened earlier, it is assumed that the August 10th date would still stand firm for clubs in the North of Ireland. Conversely, a potential can of worms could emerge for the IABA and other similar bodies should enhanced restrictions in the North go beyond August 10th.

In terms of pro fight nights, the issues with regard to social distancing and even just public confidence may limit ticket sales and ticket selling capabilities.

Not to mention concerns, costs, and perhaps even outright limitations with regard to bringing in journeymen from abroad may take effect in an industry already bemoaning costs prior to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Indeed, this evening’s announcement remains relevant solely to the South and, in all likelihood, pro shows will sooner return in the North – regardless of when restrictions are lifted.

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com