LONDON (Reuters) - London's Olympic Park will host top-level professional boxing bouts from September, boosting efforts to ensure that Games venues remain a lasting part of the British sporting scene.
Boxing promoter Frank Warren has signed an agreement to stage six fights in the 7,000-seater Copper Box Arena which was used for handball and modern pentathlon fencing during last year's Games.
British middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders will meet challenger John Ryder on September 21 in the first of the fights planned for the venue.
Britain spent around nine billion pounds ($14 billion) of public money to put on the Games. Politicians and sports administrators are keen to show that the money was a sound investment that will prove of lasting benefit.
"The Copper Box is what all the investment in the Olympics was about - legacy and giving London a fantastic arena," Warren said on Monday.
Proceeds from putting on the fights will be used to subsidize other sports such as swimming in the Olympic pool, officials from the London Legacy Development Corporation said.
The Park, currently closed for conversion work, will host a series of rock concerts this year. Sprint champion Usain Bolt is scheduled to appear in a Diamond League athletics meeting in a sold-out Olympic Stadium at the end of July, one year on from the Games.
Longer-term, the Olympic Stadium will stage World Cup rugby matches in 2015 before becoming the home of Premier League soccer club West Ham United the following year.
(Writing by Keith Weir, editing by Ed Osmond)