As well as COVID-19 causing a frantic halt to all sports on a near-global basis a couple of months ago, the return of some sports in parts of the world has returned behind closed doors.
Despite Eddie Hearn releasing plans for ‘Matchroom Fight Camp’ & a new fight date for Daniel Dubois vs Joe Joyce under Queensbury Promotions being rumoured, an official fight card still hasn’t been confirmed.
Whilst casual fans are still able to find positives with the prospect of PPV shows returning this Summer, hardcore Boxing fans, particularly those who are regulars at the small hall scene aren’t as lucky.
To discuss all things COVID-19 as well as a reflection on his time so far in the industry, ESBR’s Eliot Stott spoke to Promoter, Manager amongst other things Mickey Helliet who is celebrating his 45th year in the sport.
Jumping straight to the topic of COVID-19, a chirpy Helliet’s mood swiftly changed when asked about the return of his promotional outfit ‘Hellraiser Boxing’.
‘To be honest, I have absolutely no clue about when it’s going to be possible to return. If a vaccine can be sorted, then I can imagine that we’ll be able to go back to how we were in the next couple of months.’
‘If not then we’ll all have real problems. Shows without tickets sales isn’t feasible in Boxing and I don’t see how social distancing could work successfully if I’m honest.’
When asked about the future, Helliet admitted that he’s already thought of how his approach will be different when Boxing does finally resume.
‘Considering everything, I’m going to be focusing more on quality rather than quantity from now on. Over the years I’ve focused a lot on volume and taken on a lot of guys who didn’t have any sort of amateur pedigree and worked hard with them to move them up to a good level – Asinia Byfield fighting for the British Title being an example.’
Involved in other areas outside of Boxing whilst consistently producing shows over the years must take real appetite and an everlasting passion for the sport. With financial reasons unlikely to be the reason as to why he is still promoting, Helliet was asked why he’s continued to promote.
‘When I was Boxing, it helped me a lot so I feel that I owe the sport. I’ve been successful in other aspects of my life and I owe that to Boxing. Luckily, I don’t have to rely on Boxing too much financially as I’ve got businesses that I earn a lot more money from.’
‘As any small hall promoter will know, it takes a lot of work. Whether it’s the matchmaking or fighters dropping out last minute, putting shows together takes hours and hours of work so I suppose you’ve got to really love the sport to be in it for a long period.’
As well as taking on a series of roles within the sport Helliet provided a deep dive into his management technique which even includes checking that his fighters are preparing adequately.
‘The problem is that the guys that I promote aren’t from the GB squad haven’t been told what to eat, how much sleep they should be getting and what time they should be doing this and that.’
‘Unfortunately, sometimes I’m the one who has to give the fighter a telling off whether it’s about their diet or something in regards to their training.’
Clearly in a tough industry, Helliet went onto describe his history of working with other promoters in what can clearly be a competitive market to be involved in.
‘When it comes to small hall promoting, I’ve always thought that it’s best to work together rather than against each other. One situation that I was a bit disappointed with was a purse bid when the promoter who lost as well as their fighter refused to discuss losing the bid for some time.’
‘I’ve been in that position before and we’ve just gotten on with it. The most important thing has always been to win the fight which will then put you into a stronger position.’
‘In the midst of everything that’s going on at the moment I wouldn’t rule out teaming up with other promoters to put a show or two together.’
Reflecting on his long career, ESBR asked Helliet about his proudest moments in the sport to which he gave a modest answer.
‘In terms of personal achievements, I don’t take that much in to be honest & I’m pretty oblivious on the impact that I have on fighters’ lives – I’d rather just move onto the next event.’
‘If I had to pick a favourite personal memory it would have to be organizing and raising money for a trip for around 20 boxers & trainers to go out to Las Vegas from Lansbury Boxing Club to box themselves. As someone who was a young Boxer once, it meant a lot to be able to provide that opportunity.’
Despite small hall Boxing going through its darkest period yet, Mickey clearly isn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet and will add to his longevity once he is able to.
Image Credit - Hellraiser Boxing
Follow Mickey on Twitter here - https://twitter.com/Mickey_Helliet
Mickey is also in the early stages of putting a project called ‘Knock Out Knife Crime’ together. You can follow KOKC on Twitter here - https://twitter.com/kokcboxing