Bars boxing clever on big fight nights

Pubs preparing to pull in punters again for latest Joshua bout

Committee Room No.9 is just one bar benefitting from the resurgence in British boxing

By Jonathan Watt

‘LEGACY’ became one of the watchwords of the London 2012 Olympics.

And while the longer-term upshots of the games may be hard for those outwith the immediate vicinity of Olympic Park in the city’s east end to discern, one event that took place that summer seems to have benefitted pubs and bars to great effect.

When a little-known amateur puncher from Watford clinched the gold medal for boxing at Super Heavyweight, few could have predicted it would help spark a renaissance in British boxing that has been a boon for licensees and fight fans alike.

Six years later and with 21 victories from 21 matches under his belt, Anthony Joshua has become arguably the most popular heavyweight pugilist in a generation.

Joshua’s success and popularity have also helped the UK become the place to be for boxing; so instead of waiting until the wee small hours to enjoy title fights broadcast live from Las Vegas, boxing fans can head to pubs and bars to enjoy all the action in Greenwich Mean Time.

As the reigning world champion eyes his next challenge – the powerful Alexander Povetkin on September 22, which will be shown live on Sky Sports Box Office on the Saturday night – bar operators across Scotland are already preparing for the monster night.

Mark Joseph, manager of sports bar Foundry in Aberdeen, said the Olympic gold medallist’s bouts always pull in the punters.

“We’ll definitely be bouncing on the night,” he said.

“Joshua fights double the number of people that we have in on a Saturday. We just get absolutely battered.

“We promote his fights weeks before on social media and by putting up double-sided A0 posters on our windows; then we’ll book out as many tables as we can.

“The timing of the fights is great too because there’s nothing else really on at that time on a Saturday.”

Our takings are roughly four times higher when Joshua is on.

At Committee Room No.9 in Glasgow, customers started booking tables out two months before the heavyweight clash, said GM Brad MacLean.

“We expect to be fully-booked and at full capacity on the day,” he said.

“Due to the rise in custom, the layout of the bar has to be changed around.

“When booking we’ll encourage customers to order food and drink packages for their tables which will be there on arrival; this not only helps the venue cope with the initial rush but is great for the customer experience too.

“You can capitalise on these events by treating the day as an advert for the venue. Over the past few years we have certainly seen an uplift in repeat custom generated from events like these.”

In Falkirk, Sportsters, winner of the 2017 SLTN Sports Bar of the Year award in association with Sky, will be staffed up to help deal with the thirsty throngs.

General manager Iain Meiklejohn said: “The atmosphere for Joshua fights is electric, about 90% of people are really rooting for him.

“Our takings are roughly four times higher when Joshua is on.

“My first week here when I took over as GM was before a Joshua fight. It was definitely a baptism of fire but I just want to see the bar busy and people enjoying themselves so these fights are great events to have.”