“I enjoyed the fights. I didn’t think I would and thought it would be hard to watch without crowds. I worried that the fighters themselves might struggle to get into it. But I think they showed that with the best match-ups and good fights, it doesn’t matter whether the crowd is there or not,” Rose said.
“That’s what made me think about Jeff and Tim. In that case, we’ve got a really good contest, we feel we can win that and they feel the same thing. I honestly think there is a real opportunity for us to come back to the table as soon as possible and start to negotiate something around fighting without a crowd.
“We want to stick to the plan and fight Jeff but, if he isn’t willing, we’ll look at other avenues because we really want to get back in the ring, knowing now there is an opportunity to do that.”
Sitting out the year waiting for restrictions to be relaxed won’t be acceptable to either camp. A fight without a gate taking would take some financial steam out of the event but, with little sport on offer, there may be increased interest in it as a pay-per-view main event.
“You never say never with boxing but our plan is to take out Jeff Horn and move on to a world title. For us, the sooner we fight Jeff the better. I want to come straight back to the table for negotiations. That’s why I want to push ahead and get it done whether there is a crowd or not,” Rose said.
“A win by either fighter would put them into a very good position to fight for a world title, either right away or after another fight.”
Lonergan said the decision would come down to the preferences of Horn and Tszyu. Horn’s position a month ago was to find a way to fight in front of fans.
The NRL has been hopeful of crowds for finals in October and November but that could be too late for Tszyu and Rose. The bout would also have to compete for eyeballs at that time of year, in what promises to be a busy late spring and summer for sport.
“I’m totally relaxed about what format we run this fight in and I think Matt is the same. The two key decision makers in this are Jeff and Tim,” Lonergan said.
“The Townsville fight with 20,000 people is the equivalent of an Origin in league. The boys are very keen to fight in front of a big crowd. But the reality is, that may or may not happen this year.
“If you can’t fight in front of a big crowd, maybe there’s a reduced crowd. As restrictions loosen, there might be discussions between all of the parties, including the Queensland government, to see what happens.
“As fight sports start up, the guys will start getting itchy. For us not to do that, to do something a bit different, would take discussions between all parties. The longer this drags out, the more likelihood that would have of happening.”
At 32, Horn may have one more serious world title tilt left in him. He has been keen to explore his potential at junior middleweight after claiming a world title belt at welterweight against Manny Pacquiao.