WEARING his manager’s hat, Sam Kynoch is cautiously welcoming about the prospect of boxing returning soon behind closed doors. As a promoter, however, he believes it will also prove devastating for the future of the sport in Scotland should those restrictions remain in place for any length of time.

The eponymous owner of Kynoch Boxing is looking down a road that will present an opportunity for some of the fighters on his books to advance their careers. As a promoter unable to put on any shows for the foreseeable future, though, he knows it will end some careers, too.

The UK government’s announcement that sport can take place behind closed doors in England from June 1 was another step in the right direction for those keen to bring televised boxing to our screens this summer. Stringent guidelines – including PPE for everyone, mass testing, and asking boxers not to spit – will need to be met for that to go ahead. Most significantly, there will be no fans in the venue to see it.

One of Kynoch’s clients, Paul Kean, is set to become one of the first to return when he fights for the European title while another is mulling over an offer, too. But it is not for everyone. With most boxers unable to access a gym or undertake sparring sessions, some feel taking a fight at short notice presents too great a risk.

“I understand there is a pressure for boxing to resume – especially from those promoters with TV shows to run – but it’s hard to say how things are going to plan out by July,” says Kynoch, a former corporate lawyer who also works as a boxing trainer.

“Paul Kean is set to go behind closed doors and I’ve had one other boxer who has been offered a fight and taken it in principle. But I’ve also offered fights to two other boxers who haven’t wanted to box because they’ve looked at the situation and didn’t feel they could commit to what they’re asking. So we’ve turned those down.

“It just depends on the offer, the boxer’s own mindset, where they are in their career and how much they’ve been able to train. I have to be sensitive to the personality of each one and to be sensible about that. This situation won’t go on forever so I would never advocate a boxer taking a fight just for the sake of it. In some cases it will be better just to wait.”

Kynoch admits fighting in near-empty halls will be a strange experience and one that might affect some boxers.

“It will be quite bizarre for boxers to have to compete in a sterile environment; a TV studio with a boxing ring in the middle and no crowd,” he added.

“There’s a definite chance of it impacting on performances as there are so many boxers out there who thrive off having a crowd behind them. From a sporting perspective it could make things play out quite differently.”

The current climate has proved hugely detrimental to Kynoch’s business as a small-hall show promoter. Two events were postponed in the week the country went into lockdown and a further seven will also fall by the wayside.

The 33-year-old is hoping to return in September but fears the longer social distancing measures remain in place, the greater the chance many boxers will opt to retire rather than wait around.

“I work full-time boxing, so this has hit me really hard,” he added. “I’m losing in total nine events and that’s based on starting back again in September which is not guaranteed. That’s had a massive effect on what I do. In the space of a few months I’ve gone from running a thriving business to absolute standstill.

“In the week that lockdown was imposed I was meant to be running two shows – one at Trump Turnberry and another at the Crowne Plaza hotel. Both of them had to be pulled.

“It’s going to have a really big impact on a lot of people in boxing and will end a lot of careers. Some people who got involved in boxing in ancillary roles to support the sport have had to wind up what they are doing.

“I know a few boxers and this will end their careers. They were coming towards the end and were looking for a last few fights. But the [boxing authorities] haven’t budged on when annual medicals are due. So if you’re a boxer whose medical is set to expire and you can’t get a fight then they might just walk away from the sport.

“You’ve got a whole raft of people who are losing money. There are trainers who take journeymen on the road week after week – their income has disappeared. And it’s the same for gyms all around the country. You’ll see a lot of gyms having to do crowdfunding and the rest just to stay open.

“So it’s not a great time. And the rest of 2020 is going to be really challenging even if things start coming back.”