Nowhere big enough in Bristol to stage Lee Haskins fight
BRISTOLIAN bantamweight boxing champion Lee Haskins, pictured, has been told he cannot defend his European title in his home city – because there is no suitable venue to stage the fight.
His manager Chris Sanigar has hit out at the city's lack of sporting facilities after Haskins was forced to concede home advantage in defence of the title he won in July.
Lockleaze-based southpaw Haskins, who beat Darlington's Stuart Hall to win the vacant European Boxing Union (EBU) crown, has been ordered to make his first defence against Belgium's Stephane Jamoye before the end of the year.
But Mr Sanigar, who won a bid to stage the title fight in this country, says he has been unable to find a suitable venue in the Bristol area.
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Despite strenuous efforts to find an indoor arena with seating for 2,000 people, he has now run out of time and the EBU has awarded the fight to the opposition camp, meaning Haskins will have to travel to the Continent to face Jamoye in his own backyard in Liege.
Mr Sanigar said: "Lee Haskins is the first Bristolian ever to win a European boxing championship and it is extremely disappointing he cannot defend his title in his home town. I have searched high and low for a suitable venue ever since I won the right to stage the fight.
"But there is simply nothing in and around Bristol that would be suitable. I've looked at lots of different options, but none that would work for a boxing show of this magnitude."
Haskins won the title at Clevedon Hands Arena Equestrian Centre last summer, appearing as chief support to heavyweight prospect Tyson Fury on a televised show staged by Mr Sanigar and London-based promoter Mick Hennessey.
But it has been impossible to forge an alliance with Mr Hennessey to stage Haskins versus Jamoye, owing to a lack of available TV dates.
Mr Sanigar explained: "We need a TV deal to make a small hall show pay. But there are no dates available and Mick Hennessey cannot help us on this occasion. Without the TV money, we would need to sell close to 3,000 tickets just to break even and an indoor arena of that size simply does not exist in Bristol.
"It is the same old story. This is one of the largest cities in the country, yet we lag behind similar-sized cities in terms of our facilities."