Brad Foster promises an exciting display as UK boxing returns without fans

Brad Foster will defend his British and Commonwealth junior featherweight titles against James Beech. Photo by Paul Harding/PA Images via Getty Images

Brad Foster has said a sterile venue without fans will not stop him producing an exciting display in the first professional boxing event in the UK since lockdown on Friday.

Boxing was halted in the UK in March due to the coronavirus pandemic but will begin again at the BT Studios in London with a five-bout show staged by Frank Warren and Queensberry Promotions.

Foster defends his British and Commonwealth junior featherweight titles against James Beech in the main event that would have attracted a decent crowd from the Midlands, where both boxers are from.

But no fans are allowed at sports events in the UK yet due to government guidelines to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus.

However, Foster (12-0-2, 5 KOs), 22, has said it will be his largest ever audience.

"You saw the craziness and interest when football came back last month and it's the same with boxing, lots of boxing fans want their live boxing back and my fight is the first main event after lockdown," Foster told ESPN.

"A lot of eyes will be on me and that's why I'm going in there to shine, to impress. People haven't watched boxing for ages so they will be tuning in on Friday night. A lot of people are staying in at the moment and there's not much else to watch on Friday. People will want to watch it, so it might well be my largest audience."

Face masks, gloves, coronavirus testing, social distancing and no crowd will form a new environment for professional boxing, but Foster says he will not allow it to unsettle him.

"I'm going down there for business, not a holiday," he said.

"I've got to go down and stay in a hotel all week [from Tuesday] so we self isolate, and that's going to be weird. It will be different but the job is still the same and the aim is still the same, to come back home with the belts."

Ex-kickboxer Foster, from Lichfield, England has made three defences of his titles after winning the domestic belt aged just 21 with no amateur boxing experience.

Foster knows Beech (12-0, 2 KOs), 23, of Bloxwich, England as he sparred six rounds with him before his last fight, a sixth-round win against Lucien Reid in February.

Foster has managed to get enough sparring in ahead of facing Beech, but says training in lockdown had its challenges.

"You haven't got the facilities you normally have, and had to train on your own for a while," Foster said.

"I like to go to David Lloyd [a gym and fitness club] for the steam rooms and saunas, it's good for the muscles and recovery, but I've not been able to do that because they've all been closed.

"But I've had some good sparring, that's not been a problem. Even if I didn't get the sparring in, I've fought before without sparring like when I first won the British title.

"I've worked hard and all my focus has been on this next fight."