August 5, 2020

Matchroom fight camp: Natasha Jonas trainer Joe Gallagher reveals life inside Brentwood bubble... including Eddie Hearn's Butlins quiz

Marc Gatford
Eddie Hearn boxing news fight camp matchroom
Boxing returns to Eddie Hearn's back garden this weekend

From inside the Matchroom Fight Camp bubble, Natasha Jonas’ trainer Joe Gallagher opens about:

  • The need for private chefs and dietary concerns
  • Why it reminds him of The Shawshank Redemption 
  • Eddie Hearn’s 'Butlins' quiz
  • A “gaunt’” and “overcooked” Terri Harper

 The Mancunian also reveals Jonas is fighting for a spot on Liverpool FC’s open top bus parade. 

Take us inside the bubble...

Full credit to Matchroom for doing the best they can, I understand they are doing the best they can do, and we just have to be tolerant. You have your meals brought to your room everyday. You get up in the morning and there’s a little area to walk around in, there’s a little gym. Eddie Hearn does a Butlin’s camp quiz in the afternoon. You’ve seen the images of people having some downtime and playing a bit of cricket or kicking a ball about - and that’s it. Tasha Jonas has been in the London Olympic village so this is something she’s quite used to. 

Any quirks or challenges?

There are a few different things like Tasha Jonas having to get a fridge for her room and asking the hotel to fry eggs, which they can’t do. Tasha this morning tried to order a couple of fried eggs before the weigh-in and the hotel says they can’t do them, they can only do scrambled eggs, and then they won’t microwave your food for you. There’s just some little things you have to be fully prepared for that are unexpected, it's like going away camping.

For the Matchroom staff and security that are working here for three or four weeks they’ll be going stir crazy by week three and it’s only week two, it’s not somewhere you’d like to spend the month. 

Lots of hotels have fridges but this one doesn’t, somewhere for your water and prepared meals. We are not in a five star hotel and i’m not moaning about it but maybe Matchroom could have employed two chefs to meet each fighters’ dietary needs. 

So instead fighters are bringing down their own meals, turning up with fridges and microwaves and the hotel is very trustworthy because I tell you what, there are some fighters that don’t know how to use a microwave, might burn the place down.


Give us a tour

It isn’t the biggest space, there’s a little courtyard where people sit in, and there’s the place where you see them knocking about with the cricket ball, and there’s a place where you can walk up and down - a bit like Shawshank Redemption. You're enclosed, you’re in a bubble and for those who haven't done time, this will give you a taste of what doing time might be like, do you know what I mean? 

We are in weird circumstances and these are the measures that they’re doing to get boxing back on the television and I abide by them, it’s hard, but at the same time it’s quite unique. To be here with Natasha in the first all female world title fight, headlining in Eddie’s garden, fighting outdoors will be an experience that we won’t forget.


I heard they’re asking for feedback each week? 

It’s trial by error, the mistakes they made in week one they’ve taken on board for week two, like the commentary for example, they’re going to put Mathew Macklin and Adam Smith (the commentators) into a booth to try and silence them. By the time the pay-per-view event comes around they will know what they’re doing, they will have learnt by mistakes, taken on criticism,  and it will be miles better for the PPV event. I did find it funny that they could only do scrambled eggs not fried eggs though, that killed me this morning that one. 


How was the weigh-in?

Tasha looked in unbelievable shape on the scales, everyone’s on about how she hasn’t made the weight for two years and all this. I think the one that looked bad on the scales was Terri Harper, she looked very gaunt, she came in near enough a pound underweight and I think they’ve really overcooked her. We are hugely confident and Tasha takes it all in her stride. 

I do think they picked Tasha for a comfortable defence. Terri said the other day Tasha’s beat nobodies but they are the same. It's a bit of bravado, if you look at Stefy, he’s always having to talk to her; Terri admits she was low on confidence and Stefy’s always in her ear to reassure her and I do feel for the first time she is under pressure. It’s the first time she’s been told she’s getting knocked out.  

Tasha will make history, she’s had a fantastic amateur career, she is the first woman to qualify for the Olympics, she has been a huge role model and ambassador for women’s sport and boxing and here she is trying to make history at the age of 36. All she wants to do is win that belt and get on that parade bus with the Liverpool football team in the summer.