Frank Warren plans July boxing without fans in Britain

Promoter Frank Warren hopes to stage professional boxing events behind closed doors at hotels, television studios or purpose-built venues around Britain by early July.

Warren has been in talks with the British Boxing Board of Control, but any return of the sport after the shutdown in March due to the coronavirus pandemic hinges on the British government's announcement on restrictions this Sunday.

Warren still hopes the European and British heavyweight title fight between Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce, as well as bouts involving other big names like Josh Taylor, can still take place in front of fans later this year.

"We will get confirmation with what we can do with the [British] government's announcement on Sunday, but the only ones doing them will be ourselves, Matchroom [Boxing] and MTK because there will be no fans, so no income to be generated," Warren told ESPN.

"Being realistic, you are only going to get promoters involved who have got TV contracts, and it will be something like two shows a week rather than 30 nationwide in one weekend.

"We are good to go and have done our homework. We have been in close discussions with the board and have got medical advice. We have got a structure to run shows once the government gives us the green light to do so, but the boxers need to get back in the gyms, do some sparring, and we need to get that right too.

"It may be held in a hotel ballroom or a TV studio. This will need to be insured. We are about 90% done on what we need to do. We will be ready to hit the ground running when Premier League football and racing starts up again."

One possibility is for boxers, coaches, officials and anyone else working on the event to stay in the same hotel leading up to the five-bout show, with coronavirus tests on the day of the fights. Warren is also considering creating a venue and says a gym has been created at a farm in Hertfordshire where boxers can train in isolation at a sanitized gym and stay at a nearby hotel.

"The venue has to be secured, changing rooms need to be prepared and cleaned, social distancing needs to be adhered to," Warren said.

Warren added: "There will be a cleaning company on hand that is used to cleaning hospitals, and there will be a limit on the number of people there, so no entourages with the boxers.

"This will not be started off with big shows, it will be British title level."

Warren said there should be no concerns over staging boxing shows putting added pressure on hospitals and medical staff.

"The government will not be lifting anything unless they can cope with it," Warren told ESPN.

"Boxing only needs medical staff, hospitals, if -- God forbid -- a boxer is seriously hurt, and that very rarely happens. The medical side will not be an issue."

Dubois-Joyce, a much anticipated clash between two unbeaten British contenders progressing toward world title contention, was put back from April 11 to July 11 at London's O2 Arena due to the coronavirus. That date is likely to be too soon for fans to attend an event.

Warren was also due to stage Scotland's Taylor in a defense of his WBA-IBF world super lightweight titles against Thailand's Apinun Khongsong last weekend. Carl Frampton and Michael Conlan, both big ticket-sellers from Northern Ireland, are also due to have world title fights at junior lightweight and featherweight, respectively, in their next outings.

All are waiting to learn when they can box again, but fans at live sports events in the UK are not expected until September at the earliest, with some predictions of large crowds not happening until next year.

Warren says Dubois-Joyce is not on his radar in the current situation.

"That's a fight that can't go behind closed doors because of what the fighters are getting paid and it needs the fans in there," he said. "There is a lot of interest to see it.

"To put Josh Taylor on in a studio -- I don't think we want to do that either.

"Everyone is running at a loss until this is sorted out. I think we will see them [Dubois, Joyce, Taylor] box this year. We will have to find a way of making it work. Everyone has to be sensible, because we are all in this together."