Hearn to swerve making Ryan Burnett vs. Zolani Tete fight

By Boxing News - 11/30/2017 - Comments

Image: Hearn to swerve making Ryan Burnett vs. Zolani Tete fight

By Scott Gilfoid: Eddie Hearn says he will NOT make the unification fight between IBF/WBC bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett (18-0, 9 KOs) and WBO champion Zolani Tete (26-3, 21 KOs) right now, because it’s a tough fight for Ryan and he wants to secure his financial future before he puts him in a risky fight like that.

Hearn says the Burnett can make the same amount of money making a voluntary defense as he would facing the 29-year-old Tete. Hearn feels that the Tete fight wouldn’t pay Burnett enough money for it to be worth the risk. Hearn wants Burnett to become to become set for life financially before he takes a gamble by putting him in with a guy of Tete’s caliber. As such, Hearn will have the 25-year-old Burnett swerve the Tete fight, and focus on facing less dangerous opposition.

Hearn says the Burnett-Tete fight will eventually happen in the future at some point, but he doesn’t say when. Tete is 29-years-old now. If the idea is to age him to the point where he’s harmless to Burnett, it might take a while for that to happen. In the meantime, Burnett doesn’t look nearly solid enough to hold onto his IBF and WBC titles for long without losing to one of the contenders.

“That’s not an example of a fight that will secure anyone’s financial future,” said Hearn to Sky Toe To Toe podcast in talking about the Burnett vs. Tete fight. “It’ll be a very tough fight with Tete, who’s an excellent fighter, as is Burnett. It’s an excellent fight. Sooner or later, we’ll have to take it. Ryan Burnett makes the same money fighting a voluntary defense as he does fighting Zolani Tete,” said Hearn.

Hearn’s argument about Burnett making the same amount of money fighting a voluntary defense as he would in fighting Tete sounds a lot like the same argument that he’s currently making to not pay WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker 35 percent of the revenue for a fight against Anthony Joshua. Hearn says Joshua makes the same amount of money fighting Joseph Parker as he does fighting Carlos Takam. As such, Hearn uses this as justification not to pay Parker more than what a mandatory challenger would make fighting Joshua. The problem with Hearn not being willing to put Burnett into risky fights against the best fighters in the 118-lb. division is he’s not going to increase his popularity in the boxing world.

If Hearn is satisfied with Burnett just being popular his home country of Northern Ireland, then he’ll continue to match him against beatable opposition, fighting in a safety-first manner like we saw in his last fight against WBA bantamweight champion Zhanat Zhakiyanov. That was an awful to watch fight. Burnett did little more than wrestle Zhakiyanov for 12 rounds. Tying up and wrestling Zhakiyanov for the entire fight was obviously the game plan for Burnett and his team, and it was awful to look at. I had Zhakiyanov winning the fight by 2 rounds. Burnett should have been penalized for his constant holding. It was sad to see though, as Burnett didn’t even try to fight. He was just holding and grappling for 12 rounds. Obviously, there was a confidence issue on Burnett and/or his training team’s part. When you get a fighter, whose main objective is to spoil for 12 rounds like we saw with Burnett, it tells me that you’re not going to see that guy stay on top for any length of time.

Tete would obliterate Burnett right now. The difference in talent between the two fighters is absurd. Tete is a much better fighter than Burnett could ever hope to be in my opinion. No amount of spoiling on Burnett’s part would help him turn back the threat of Tete. If Hearn is going to try and wait Tete out until he’d old before he makes Burnett-Tete fight, he’s going to have to wait a LONG time. By the time Tete gets old, Burnett will have been beaten by someone else, and sent scurrying back to the contender ranks, which is where I believe he belongs.

”Ryan Burnett wants to fight the very best,” said Hearn. ”I will NOT let him fight Zolani Tete for average money; unless we get to a point, like Anthony Joshua, where everything is secure. I want to build Ryan Burnett’s financial legacy. I want to have him have his house all paid off. I want him to leave the sport of boxing, saying, ‘I’ve won world titles, I’ve got my houses, I’m set for the future,’ but we’re not there yet. We’re nowhere near there yet, but let me get there before we gamble for the wrong money. If we’re going to gamble, gamble big. Against Tete, we’re not gambling big. What are we gambling for? Yeah, we’re gambling for respect. We’re gambling for credibility, respect or a belt. In this sport, the fighter has to be [financially secure]. That’s my job. That’s my responsibility,” said Hearn.

It’s not every day where you hear a promoter admitting that he’s going to have his fighter duck another guy in the division. Hearn is up front in letting the boxing world know that he wants no part of matching Burnett against Tete. It’s funny but it’s also quite sad as well. If this were the NFL or NBA and you had a coach that didn’t want to match his vulnerable team against a better one, then those sports would wither away and die off. The fans want to see the best playing and competing against the best. In the NFL and NBA, the teams have no choice but to play against the best. They can’t swerve other teams because they’re too good or because the money won’t be enough for the risk involved. Only in boxing do you see the best avoiding the best, and it’s sad. One of these days, boxing will be regulated to force the best to fight the best. Right now, the sport is being run into the ground by promoters that are unwilling to make the matches that the boxing fans want to see, because they’re busy protecting their fighters from risk. If Burnett isn’t good enough to be a world champion, then it should be found out. After all, Burnett is a unified champion right now after beating Zhakiyanov for his IBF title. I thought Burnett lost that fight, and should have penalized multiple times for his holding, but that’s beside the point. As a unified world champion, if Burnett isn’t ready to fight another world champion, then what kind of fighter is he? Hearn is too busy thinking about the sport from a business perspective and less as a promoter that is focusing on the actual sport.

”I would not forgive myself if I put a fighter in a fight that difficult for poor money, and we lose it all by just trying to do the right thing for a couple of blokes on the internet,” said Hearn. ”I’m sorry, that’s the truth. Fighters need to be protected from themselves. If it were up to Ryan Burnett, he would fight Zolani Tete, no problem. It’s our job to protect them in the toughest sport of all to make sure we look after these fighters. I’m sorry if it means he has to wait one or two extra fights before we fight Tete.,” said Hearn.

The problem is Hearn isn’t likely talking about having Burnett wait 1 or 2 extra fights before he matches him against Tete. I think Hearn is going to wait a lot longer than 1 or 2 fights before he makes the Burnett-Tete fight. My guess is Hearn is going to wait years before he makes that fight if he ever does. By the time Hearn gets around to making the Burnett vs. Tete fight, it won’t matter anymore. Burnett or Tete will have been beaten by one of the other contenders, and there will be no point in making the fight.