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Eddie Hearn addresses Dillian Whyte ESPN rumors

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By Tim Royner: Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn addressed the rumors on Wednesday of highly ranked heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte potentially signing with Top Rank Boxing to fight on ESPN. Hearn says he spoke briefly to Whyte (25-1, 18 KOs), and he told him it was “nothing.” Hearn he’s not sure if Whyte will be signing to fight in America on ESPN, but if he does, it won’t effect fights still being televised on Sky in the UK.

It’ll mean that fights won’t be streamed on DAZN. Most Americans haven’t seen any of Whyte’s fights, so there’s no real shock if he’s not going to be shown on DAZN.

If Whyte does sign with Top Rank to fight on ESPN, he would be following lineal champion Tyson Fury over there. Fury recently signed a 5-fight deal with Top Rank for a rumored $100 million. If Whyte can get even half of that amount, he would be doing very well for himself. Whyte, 30, isn’t happy that Hearn wasn’t able to offer him the money that he wanted for a world title shot against IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.

Whyte turned down a deal that was said to be 5 million pounds. It’s unclear when or if Whyte will be getting another shot at a fight against Joshua. Earlier on Wednesday, the World Boxing Council dropped a bomb by ordering a fight between WBC champion Deontay Wilder and WBC mandatory Dominic Breazeale.

The deal means that Whyte will likely not be getting a shot at the WBC belt anytime soon. He was hoping to either face Breazeale for the interim WBC title, and then fight Wilder after that, or fight the winner of Wilder-Breazeale as the new mandatory. Neither of those scenerios are going to play out for Whyte. If Whyte signs with Top Rank, they have other ideas for him to get him a big money fight rather than going in the direction of Wilder.

“You’ve got to look after yourself. I think we’ve done an amazing job with Dillian Whyte,” Hearn said to AB Boxing News about the rumors of Whyte of potentially signing with Top Rank at ESPN. “We’ve taken him from small hall shows to #1 in the world, and multiple pay-per-view fights. He’s earned millions and millions of dollars with us. But he is a free agent, and if he what’s to leave us and go elsewhere, then he’s got to do what’s right for his career. My worry is you have Joshua on DAZN, and you’ve got Wilder on SHOWTIME. There’s no belts on ESPN, and they’re willing to pay people a lot of money to come on there for easier fights, and you’ll see Fury on one of them. If Dillian Whyte joins them, you’ll see him in one of them,” Hearn said.

Whyte has become a star in the UK while signed with Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing promotional company. One can understand why he would be so upset. Whyte is likely the #2 money maker for Hearn’s Matchroom stable right now behind Joshua. However, Whyte’s popularly is only the UK, not the U.S, where’s an unknown, and he might not ever become a star over there. It’s a very tough market to break into.

Whyte would need to fight better opposition than what he’s been fighting, because the American boxing fans are particular about who they follow. If Whyte is just going to beat up on old guys like Dereck Chisora, Lucas Browne and Robert Helenius, he’s not going to become a star in the U.S. If Top Rank signs Whyte, they might match him against Fury. That’s doubtful though, because then they would be hurting one of their potential revenue streams.

Right now, Fury and Whyte likely won’t bring in the subscribers to the ESPN+ app in the U.S, because they’re unknowns. Fury has the wrong fighting style to become a big star, and Whyte is more of a slapper, and he’s a sloppy type of fighter rather than an explosive one. Neither of these guys are the second coming of Mike Tyson. That’s why it seems like such a strange idea for Top Rank to sign them. If Joshua was available, then that would be a good move by Top Rank to sign him, but not Fury or Whyte. They don’t have that kind of talent, and they’re both 30. It would take a long time for them to become stars, even if they had the right kind of fighting style.

“From our position, we made him an offer to fight Anthony Joshua, and we couldn’t make the fight, which was very disappointing, because I wanted him to have a shot at a world title, and these world title shots don’t come on trees unfortunately,” Hearn said. “I’ve spoken to him briefly about the ESPN stuff. He says, ‘No, not really,’ but obviously there’s a lot of strong reports that say way. Whatever he decides, if he doesn’t want to stay with us, I’ll shake his hand and say, ‘Good luck,’ and wish him the best, and hopefully we’ll still keep working with him. Dillian has always made it clear that in the UK, nothing changes with us and Sky. It just makes things very complicated, to be honest. We’re obviously with DAZN. If he did a deal with ESPN for his America stuff, I’m not saying that can’t work, but it does become very complicated,” Hearn said.

If Whyte is still going to be fighting on Hearn’s shows in the UK, then there’s no real loss for him. That’s where the money is coming from for Whyte. His fights bring in a lot of PPV buys on Sky Box Office in the UK, and he’s big ticket seller for his shows at the O2 Arena in London, England. He’s not a stadium fighter like Joshua, but he still brings in good money at the O2.

Hearn is signing so many fighters, it probably won’t matter if Whyte leaves Matchroom for Top Rank. Hearn will fill the gap that he left with someone else. Former IBF/WBA cruiserweight champion Murat Gassiev will be fighting with Hearn, which is an excellent additional to his promotional stable. Gassiev is one of the best cruiserweight. He’s going to be moving up to heavyweight to try and make some noise in that weight class. Gassiev is one of those type of punchers that could be an instant threat to almost any fighter in the heavyweight division. Oleksander Usyk obviously showed that he has Gassiev’s number in beating him by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision in the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament last year, but he would be a threat to the less elusive fighters at heavyweight like Joshua and Deontay Wilder.

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