Hearn talks Hrgovic, Hunter & Haney
By Tim Royner: Eddie Hearn was over the moon last Saturday night following the knockout performances by Devin Haney, Michael Hunter and Filip Hrgovic on DAZN at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Hearn sees great things from all three fighters, but he seemed to be most excited about second round knockout win for heavyweight Hunter (17-0, 12 KOs) over Fabio Maldonado (26-3, 25 KOs). Hunter showed the kind of talent that suggests that might be one of the major players in the heavyweight division soon.
Hearn obviously expect great things from Hunter like he did when he signed 2016 Olympic super heavyweight bronze medalist Hrgovic (8-0, 6 KOs) and unbeaten lightweight Haney (22-0, 14 KOs) to his Matchroom Boxing USA promotional stable. Those two fighters were expected to accomplish great things when Hearn signed them. But in the case of Hunter, he’s turned out to be pleasant surprise. If the other promoters like Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions had been able to predict that Hunter would look this good after moving up to heavyweight, they would snatched him up before Hearn got a chance to do it. For a lot of them, they saw how Oleksandr Usyk was able to easily handle Hunter two years ago in beating him by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision at cruiserweight, and they might have been turned off at the thought of signing him.
Hearn: Hrgovic will be a big problem for a lot of heavyweights
Unbeaten heavyweight contender Hrgovic had his coming out party last Saturday night with his first round knockout win over 38-yer-old Corbin. He completely destroyed a heavyweight that had done sparring in the past with Anthony Joshua. It’s too bad that Hearn didn’t select a better opponent for the 6’5″ Hrgovic to fight last Saturday. He could have made more noise than he did if it had been a contender level opponent for the Hrgovic had fought.
“He’s a beast. He’s a big problem for a lot of heavyweights,” Hearn said to IFL TV about Hrgovic following his win over Corbin last Saturday night in Oxon Hill, Maryland. “A lot of people don’t know about Hrgovic yet, but they will. Corbin is not a world beater, but he’s a good, sound heavyweight. Before he got himself slung out against Charles Martin, he was really hard in the fight. He got hit with everything. He sparred with Anthony Joshua in camp. Hrgovic just hit him beautifully to the side of the head, and he was out cold,” Hearn said.
For the record, the 38-year-old Corbin wasn’t out cold, as Hearn says, after he was knocked down by the 6’5′ Hrgovic in the first round. The punch from Hrgovic landed to the side of Corbin’s head, and he went down because he wasn’t expecting it. The two fighters were in close. Corbin didn’t think that Hrgovic would hit him from that distance. As the saying goes, ‘protect yourself at all times,’ Corbin failed to heed those words of advice. The fact that Corbin is 38-years-old, and has never beaten anyone of note is one of the reasons why he was hit by that shot from Hrgovic. A more experienced heavyweight that came from a good amateur background wouldn’t have left themselves open in the same way.
“Hrgovic is going to be a big problem,” Hearn said. “It’s going to be very difficult to find opponents. He has excellent boxing skills, excellent amateur pedigree, fast hands, and can punch really hard. He’s very exciting, and he’ll fight anyone, and that’s good,” Hearn said.
Now that the other promoters know how good Hrgovic is, it’s not going to be easy for Hearn to get the better heavyweights to face him. It won’t be impossible for Hearn to get quality guys to face the 26-year-old Hrgovic, but it’ll likely require that he offer big money to get them to accept the fight with him. Hearn can always match Hrgovic against some of his own heavyweights from his Matchroom Boxing stable like Hunter, Dave Allen, Dillian Whyte and Zhilei Zhang. If Hearn makes those fights, he needs to be prepared for the possibility of Hrgovic losing. He’s a good heavyweight, but his stamina was his weakness as an amateur. He gets tired when he’s forced to fight in a fast pace in fights where he’s getting hit back. Last night, it was a perfect situation where Hrgovic was able to knock Corbin out in the first round before he ever got hit by him. Against the better heavyweights, it won’t be as easy for Hrgovic, and his stamina problems could come into play like they used to when he was in the amateur ranks. Hrgovic is a big guy, but his stamina isn’t what he needs to be for him to beat the better fighters. Also, Hrgovic’s hand speed is slow, and his defense isn’t that great either. He gets hit when he’s facing opposition that can actual fight. Corbin was an old guy pushing 40 that Hearn dug up for Hrgovic to impress the casual boxing fans.
Hunter will get Joshua fight if he keeps winning says Hearn
Hearn says he’s going to put Hunter in with Joshua soon if he keeps winning the way he’s been doing. He wants to put Hunter in with a “marquee heavyweight” next, and then try and setup a title eliminator to lock him in as a mandatory for Joshua. If Hunter can win his next two fights, he could be the mandatory for Joshua. Now would be a good time for Hearn to skip straight to a title eliminator for Hunter against Dillian Whyte to become the WBC mandatory to champion Deontay Wilder. Whyte wants to become the mandatory for Wilder for some reason rather than becoming the mandatory for Joshua. If Hearn can convince the WBC to let Hunter and Whyte fight in a title eliminator, then he can lock one of them in as the mandatory for Wilder.
“The same with Michael Hunter,” Hearn said in comparing Hunter’s impressive performance against Maldonado to that of Hrgovic with his win over Corbin. “He [Hunter] looked good tonight in beating a guy that a lot of heavyweights are going the distance with. He’s just very fast, very awkward, and very elusive,” Hearn said about Hunter. “I love watching Hunter, because it’s such a massive disadvantage from the get go, because he’s so small. He’s 214 pounds. He has no business really being at heavyweight, but he took a chance to move up, and got a big win. Now he’s in a situation where he’s on the verge of a massive fight. Fabio is awkward, and horrible to fight, but Hunter just hits you from angles with speed. It’s difficult as a heavyweight [to deal with a fighter like Hunter]. Great fights, he’s on the verge. I have to put him in a fight against top contender, and if he wins that, then you’ve got to say he’s on the verge of fighting a mandatory fight or maybe get a shot against [Anthony] Joshua, as long as he keeps winning. That’s three wins at heavyweight; Bakole, Ustinov and Maldonado. Now it’s time to go beyond those to the top 10, and try and get a marquee name. You’ve got [Joseph] Parker and [Alexander] Povetkin. Charr is fighting Trevor Bryan, so that’s going to be a bit of a hold up on that one. Any of those guys, he doesn’t care. [Oleksandr] Usyk is a good fight [for Hunter],” Hearn said.
Hunter might still be too small to be fighting at heavyweight. The only reason that Hunter’s lack of size has been disguised is because Hearn has been feeding him soft opposition since he moved up to heavyweight by putting him in with Terrell Jamal Woods, Iago Kiladze, Martin Bakole Ilunga, Alexander Ustinov and Maldonado. Those aren’t good heavyweights. If Hunter is matched against someone with size and talent that can expose his lack of size, we could see him brought down to earth.
“They said they couldn’t get an opponent, and no one wanted to fight him,” Hearn said in response to the news that Team Joe Joyce aren’t ready to take a fight against Hrgovic yet. “It’s just not the right time. One’s 8-0 [Hrgovic], and ones 9-0 [Joyce]. It’s probably never the right time to fight Hrgovic, to be honest. I’ll make Sam Jones [Joyce’s manager] right. Rob McCracken says he’s [Hrgovic] brilliant. Joshua says he’s a great fighter. They’ll fight. It’ll be a great fight. He [Hrgovic] needs more experience in the pro game, but he’s vicious,” said Hearn.
To try and get Hrgovic a notable opponent, Hearn has volunteered to have him challenge unbeaten Joe Joyce (9-0, 9 KOs). However, there doesn’t appear to be interest on the part of Joyce’s team unfortunately.