October 25, 2020

Brad Foster defends titles as boxing returns behind closed doors

Brad Foster
Foster keeps the Lonsdale belt after three wins as British champion

Brad Foster defended his British and Commonwealth super-bantamweight titles as boxing returned behind closed doors for the first time in the UK.

Promoter Frank Warren stayed away for safety reasons as the show took place at a near-empty BT Sport Studio

Stringent checks were in place, with fighters spending the week in quarantine at a hotel beforehand.

Supermarket worker Foster, 22, claimed a thrilling unanimous points win over James Beech Jr.

The Lichfield fighter’s third win as British champion means he gets to keep the coveted Lonsdale belt.

He has carried on working night shifts at a supermarket during the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday night’s bill at BT’s base in Stratford, east London, saw London’s Hamzah Sheeraz successfully defend his WBO European super-welterweight title against Scot Paul Kean.

Each fighter was kept in their “bubble” throughout, arriving alongside only their cuts and corner man, with temperature checks and PPE provided for use in the changing rooms.

Each corner was then given a specific zone in which to prepare, while in the ring fighters had their own disposable spit tube, which was replaced between bouts.

Two referees wearing face masks oversaw the five bouts and showered between officiating, with the ring cleaned between fights. Boxers’ gloves and wraps were disposed off in various bins.

The announcer was also stationed outside the ropes and other officials present sat behind a clear screen.

Sports fans have got used to watching events with no crowds but the absence of spectators meant corner calls, as well as the punishing thud of each blow that landed, were clearly audible.

Many fighters embraced after their bouts before socially distanced interviews. They then collected their bags and went straight back to the hotel to get showered.