Permission in the UK raises hopes

Boxing promoters yearn for return of fans

IBF flyweight world boxing champion Moruti "Babyface" Mthalane works on the heavy punching bag
IBF flyweight world boxing champion Moruti "Babyface" Mthalane works on the heavy punching bag
Image: Tsheko Kabasia

Some local boxing promoters are rubbing their hands in glee about being permitted by government to welcome a limited number of fans in boxing matches. 

This comes after the announcement this week by Matchroom Sport managing director Eddie Hearn that English authorities have permitted him and the management of the SSE Arena in Wembley to permit 1,000 fans on Saturday night when Anthony “AJ” Joshua puts his WBA Super, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight belts on the line against Kuprat Pulev in the UK. 

That is viewed by Nokwanda Mbatha and Joyce Kungwane as a ray of hope for local promoters. Mbatha, of Tono Promotions, will organise the first-ever IBF title fight to take place in Durban on December 20 when flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane defends against Filipino Jayson Mama at the ICC Hall in Durban. She said one had to be optimistic that the local boxing fraternity would  soon enjoy that privilege. 

“I mean, Moruti will be fighting at home as a world champion for the first time but he cannot even have his family in attendance. That is so bad,” she said. “Yet I was informed that 50 VIPs were in attendance during the Bafana Bafana game here in Durban recently. Surely that can also be extended to boxing.” 

Kungwane’s second fight behind closed doors will take place at Kagiso Memorial Centre on December 18. “The environment is so dull without fans. Look, it is so easy to manage the numbers in boxing. A promoter must register with Computicket, who will handle the sale of tickets, period. Then you have that sporting atmosphere that boosts boxers psychologically.” 

Hearn told BoxingScene.Com: "I can’t tell you how happy I am to see fans returning to our live boxing events. While the team have done an incredible job over the past 10 months, we live and breathe through the energy and atmosphere that a live crowd generates.

"It’s so fitting that they can return for an AJ fight, when through the past few years he has broken all kinds of attendance records in the UK and beyond. This is such a positive move for boxing and all sport. Welcome back!"

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