IT is difficult to envision how the Australian boxing landscape will look in an immediate post-quarantine environment.
With this in mind, the significance of an eventual domestic super-fight between former welterweight titleholder Jeff Horn and unbeaten star Tim Tszyu has never been more important, according to leading broadcaster Ben Damon.
“We need boxing to come back in a big way,” he told Hurt Business Radio.
“I think that fight is maybe the most important fight in the history of Australian boxing.
“Horn versus Tszyu is a major fight, and it needs to be a major success… in terms of us who are passionate about Australian boxing, we need that to do a lot of things for us. We need a lot of people to have their belief renewed in Australian boxing and investing in the process of it.
“It’s a really tricky time for people on every level at the moment. Sports like boxing can slip away a little bit while there’s focus on the return of the NRL, AFL and the like — we’re all in on that one.”
Initially, Horn (20-2-1, 13 KOs) and Tszyu (15-0, 11 KOs) were slated to meet on April 22nd in Townsville, before Australia (and the rest of the world) were forced to lock down in an attempt to contain a global pandemic.
Talks have remained ongoing between the camps of both fighters, with hopes of securing an eventual date in the immediate future, as other sporting codes inch closer to resuming their competitive seasons, as Damon revealed.
“The situation now is that Tim Tszyu and his team are adamant they want to get this fight done as soon as possible,” he added.
“They’re really aggressive in their stance of surging ahead towards a new date. Jeff Horn, knowing him, he’ll do whatever, he’s good to go. He’s been training hard as well.
“They’ll have a meeting in two weeks from now, this will be Matt Rose and Dean Lonergan, and they’ll get through all the major points on where things are at, and where things are looking to be at, in consultation with the Queensland Government.
“Originally, the fight was going to be supported by the Queensland Government and by their tourism department, to take place in Townsville. Now they’ll look at what their options might be. They might get a situation where at the time where they have that meeting, there will be a forecast to say in August or September, there will be X amount of people allowed at outside sporting events.
“Maybe that number is 500, we don’t know where things are going to be at. They’ll have those conversations and then they’ll figure out a plan and work towards that plan.”
Despite the uncertainty of boxing’s return, as well as the harsh business realities faced by athletes and promoters alike, Damon remains confident that Australia’s marquee match-up will take place in 2020.
“This fight will happen this year, that is what they’re working towards,” he said.
“You’d think August or September is most likely, and it’ll probably take place at a venue in front of a limited crowd you’d think, given we’re not going to have full crowds back by that time. There are some aggressive things being done with regards to setting dates for crowds, by the NRL in particular, we have to wait and see what happens with all of that to where boxing ends up.
“But at the moment, both sides are committed to making the fight happen. They see the importance of it, and they’re obviously people who are invested heavily in the sport as well… they’re working towards making this fight happen, and making it work in a financial sense for both of them as well.
“There are scenarios where it doesn’t happen, but I think in a couple of weeks when they do meet and chat through all the details, we’ll find that it is going to happen — and it’s going to be the comeback for Australian boxing essentially.
“It’s going to be the fight that will attempt to breathe new life to reenergise the sport… we were in such a good spot before all of this. Everything was rolling along perfectly.
“Where we were at with live boxing, and the capacity to build fighters on TV… it was so well poised, and we need this to succeed to get us all back there. I think there’s a lot of good-will from everyone involved towards making that so.”
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