SWINDON promoter Mark Neilson says he expects boxing to come back with a bang once the sport emerges from the Coronavirus pandemic, writes MATT DAVIES.

Over recent years, Swindon has been a hub for professional boxing in the South West with regular shows featuring talent from all over the region, as well as home town stars such as Luke Watkins, Ryan Martin and Bec Connolly.

Neilson Boxing’s Fight Town series was going from strength to strength, with sell-out crowds attending shows at both Swindon MECA and the Oasis Leisure Centre in recent years.

However, like most sports, boxing has been hit hard by the Covid-19 outbreak, with all local shows cancelled unless they’re hosted behind closed doors.

Some organisations like Matchroom Boxing, Queensberry and MTK Global have the finances in place to hosts shows with no crowd, but Neilson explains that financially it doesn’t make sense for now.

The promoter is hopeful boxing can return to Swindon next year though. He said: “There is still no date when boxing will be able to return to normality.

“The big TV promoters, to their credit, are trying to keep shows and their boxers busy with some intriguing fights having taken place and are scheduled.

“Without crowds though, they are limited to a certain extent as that has caused a significant reduction in income.

“A few months ago, I was optimistic and had thought that if we were lucky we might be able to put on shows before Christmas, I had dates pencilled in for November at MECA Swindon and another show in Bracknell.

“It was always a long shot but it is now a certainty there is no small hall boxing for the foreseeable future.

“My current view, considering the climate, will be putting a show on in March 2021 at the earliest, and that is only if we see an improvement in numbers and lessening of restrictions by the government.”

Because of the cutback in regular shows, Neilson believes the sport will leap back into life as he revealed he has a plethora of boxers, managers and trainers all contacting him raring to go.

“The view is, is that when boxing does return, it will be back with a vengeance,” added Neilson, who empathised with the fighters during these strange times.

“Fast forward to the date when crowds are permitted back, I could but 20 fight cards on three weeks running.

“I have so many boxers and managers that I work with that are desperate to get back to boxing along with fight fans who can’t wait to see their favourite local boxer back in action.

“I know some fighters are still training as if they have a fight date, waiting for the phone to ring and hoping to get a slot on one of the few TV shows.

“A lot are just ticking over and waiting to see what happens. I’m worried that quite a few talented youngsters will drift out of the sport.”