It has recently been speculated that we could see this heavyweight title bout take part in Croatia as organisers continue to look for opportunities to hold the delayed event, fans are also hoping it’s sooner rather than later as eyes are turning toward a possible fight between Joshua and Fury next yet – but what can fans expect from this event during the ongoing pandemic? We’ve seen other combat sports in the way of the UFC which has provided some insight to what we can expect.
No fans in attendance change the dynamic – As expected it’s likely that there will be no fans or very few in attendance, just the commentators and broadcasting team as well as some cornermen and key personnel, this does, however, change the dynamics of a fight in a big way and if it comes down to a decision, could even impact scoring. Without the crowd noise in the background, we can hear everything – every strike that lands, anything that glances, even indicators that a fighter is tired through heavy breathing. Whilst some MMA fighters have already mentioned it changes the way a fight feels, for a viewer, it’s a whole new experience.
Betting grows in importance – For big combat sports it’s already a known factor that betting can be a solid indicator of how well an event has performed, even more so without a ticket gate to show sales – with this PPV sales and betting numbers serve as an indicator. Within the UK, there have been regulation changes around betting too which could impact this – there has recently been a ban in credit card betting, this comes alongside a change that made the anti-gambling initiative known as Gamstop mandatory for all operators. There are a growing number of sites registering outside of the UK and away from GameStop, and a full comparison of them can be found to show how many there are active, but it could also impact the event in a big way if fewer can bet.
New broadcasting possibilities – There’s already a big effort in being a fly on the wall, being able to hear what coaches are saying in the corner between rounds, listening to the fighters during the fight, or even getting different thoughts from commentators or judges – without the crowd noise as mentioned in the first point, we get a much bigger insight into what is being said and done during the fight. This could cause a shift in broadcasting – maybe we get cornermen mic’d up so a strategy can be heard clearer between rounds, or perhaps causes changes in judging which have been questioned on many occasions since there’s a lot more clarity to what is happening during a fight, and as such what is being scored, especially if visible through broadcasting.
Fans are hoping it all takes place soon, however, as it will no doubt be an exciting fight. Further delays may push the fight back until the New Year, and it had already been suggested that as many efforts were to be taken as possible to get around some rules in other sports such as the fan attendance – as changes are now happening quickly, perhaps we’ll get a concrete date soon enough.