By Scott Gilfoid: Promoter Eddie Hearn is denying the rumors of poor ticket sales for this Saturday’s Matchroom card headlined by heavyweight Dillian Whyte vs. Oscar Rivas at the O2 Arena in London, England. Hearn says that over 12,000 tickets have been sold thus far for the Whyte-Rivas event, and he expects as many as 14,000 boxing fans will be in attendance on Saturday night.
The rumors are that only a little over 2,000 tickets have been sold for the Whyte-Rivas fight, and it’s a pure 100 percent disaster. They’re saying that Hearn blew it in setting Whyte (25-1, 18 KOs) up to fight little known fringe contender Rivas (26-0, 18 KOs) instead of matching him against hugely talented Luis Ortiz. With Hearn, you can’t tell what’s what when it comes to the ticket sales.
Hearn paints a rosy picture about Whyte vs. Rivas ticket sales
“We’ve sold 12,000 tickets,” said Hearn to IFL TV in addressing the rumors of poor ticket sales for the Whyte vs. Rivas card. “We’ll have somewhere from 12 1/2 to 14,000 people in the O2 [on Saturday night for Whyte-Rivas]. That’s a lot of people. If I was struggling to sell tickets for Whyte-Rivas, do you think I would tell [Bob] Arum? We’ve sold 12,000 tickets. You’ll see on Saturday night. We’ll have half of the upper tier open. I think it’s an unbelievable card. I think the problem we have is not enough people know about Oscar Rivas. That probably cost us a couple of thousand tickets,” said Hearn.
Gilfoid doesn’t know what to believe. Is Hearn on the level when he brags about the 12,000+ tickets that have been sold for the Whyte vs. Rivas card or is this imaginary fluff from the wily promoter? The rumors have been pretty strong about the dreadful ticket sales for this card. The basic problem is the main event is a horrible one between Rivas and Whyte, and the undercard is lacking in terms of competitive fights.
Whyte vs. Rivas main undercard fights:
- David Price vs. Dave Allen
- Dereck Chisora vs. Artur Szpilka
- Richard Riakporhe vs. Chris Billiam-Smith
- Charlie Duffield vs. Dan Azeez
- Lawrence Okolie vs. Mariano Angel Gudino
As far as the Price-Allen and Chisora-Szpilka fights go, those are mismatches. Allen is going to destroy the 35-year-old Price straightaway, and there’s no question about that one. Chisora will make easy work of Szpilka, who has a chin a problem that won’t go away. With the lack of competitive fights on paper, it’s not surprising that there’s talk of poor ticket sales.
Hearn: Everyone is calling Whyte vs. Rivas a “brilliant fight”
“Whyte-Rivas is a brilliant fight. Everyone in boxing is saying the same thing,” said Hearn. “It’s a massive danger fight for Dillian Whyte. Rivas is a handful. He’s relentless. He just knocked out Bryant Jennings. That’s a tough, tough fighter,” said Hearn.
Whyte vs. Rivas is a good fight, but it’s hardly a “brilliant fight” as Hearn is calling it. We’re talking about a match between a fringe contender in Rivas against a fighter that arguably should have lost twice to Dereck Chisora and recently to Joseph Parker. Whyte is a good fighter, but he’s badly flawed and he should have a lot more defeats on his record than he does. If the officiating the judging had been A-level for Whyte’s fights against Chisora and Parker, he likely would have lost all three of those matches. Rivas was getting beaten by Bryant Jennings through the first 11 rounds before scoring a stoppage in the 12th. That tells you the limitations Rivas has.
Hearn talks Whyte’s WBC resolution
“There will be a set date where the WBC world champion will have to fight Dillian Whyte [or Oscar Rivas], if he beats Rivas,” said Hearn. “That would allow [WBC resolution] would allow the [Luis] Ortiz and the Wilder-Fury fights. And by that date, which is in May, the winner will have to fight Dillian Whyte. Whyte will fight the winner of the Wilder-Fury fight by the end of May 2020. Fury-Wilder is a massive fight. Dillian Whyte will be there. We know the [purse] spit for the interim WBC champion and the WBC champion. It’s fantastic. We’re not over the moon with the WBC resolution. We see it as fair. He’s [Wilder] had his mandatory against [Dominic] Breazeale,” said Hearn.
The set date for the Whyte-Rivas winner to get a title shot for the WBC belt is in May. The way Hearn is banging on about it, he seems to be convinced that Whyte is going to be the one that winds up fighting for the WBC belt against whoever the champion is at that point. It’s still too early to know who will be the WBC champion by next May, because the current champion Wilder could lose to his next opponent Luis Ortiz or to Tyson Fury in their rematch in February. It’s still not even a sure thing that Wilder will face Fury early next year. Wilder may opt to fight the winner of the Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. rematch. In that case, the Whyte vs. Rivas winner will probably need to wait until the second half of 2020 before they get their title shot.
Wilder is getting two more fights before he needs to defend against the mandatory says Hearn
“He’s getting two more fights, and then he has to fight the mandatory [Whyte or Rivas],” said Hearn. “Dillian Whyte will be involved in an absolute monster fight against the winner of Wilder against Fury. We don’t want a franchise champion. The winner of that fight [Wilder-Fury rematch] must fight Dillian Whyte. That’s what we want. We don’t want a free title. We don’t want a franchise champion. Dillian Whyte has lost the opportunity over that period to fight Deontay Wilder. That is the fight that he wants. If Fury beats him [Wilder], then Fury-Whyte, no problems. We’re all in for that fight as well,” said Hearn
It might be more than two fights that Wilder gets. Hearn is overlooking the fact that Wilder could opt to make a unification match against the winner of the rematch between IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua. Since unification fights supersede mandatory defenses for champions, then it means that the Whyte vs. Rivas winner could wind up waiting another three to four fights before they get a crack at the WBC belt. There’s nothing wrong with Whyte or Rivas having to wait a little longer for their title shot. Whoever has possession of the WBC title by the time they defend it against the Whyte-Rivas winner, they’ll make it a bigger fight, because they’ll be the last man standing.
Hearn says they’re not 100% happy with WBC resolution
“In an ideal situation, we want the winner of Whyte-Rivas fight Wilder next,” said Hearn. “No Ortiz fight. We’ve been more than fair [with the WBC]. We’re saying [to Wilder] have two more fights. Are we 100 percent happy with the resolution? No. Will we live with it? Yes. We’re in a position now where if Dillian Whyte beats Oscar Rivas, he gets the Wilder-Fury winner. He’s not going to wait until May. The stop date is the May date for Whyte to fight for a world title,” said Hearn.
It’s Whyte’s fault that he’s had to wait for his world title shot. If he had taken part in the World Boxing Council title eliminator against Luis Ortiz last year, there wouldn’t be a problem. The WBC ordered Whyte to face Ortiz in their eliminator, and he chose to fight Joseph Parker and Dereck Chisora instead. In other words, Whyte took the easy round by veering around Ortiz, and then he complained afterwards when he wasn’t made the WBC mandatory for Wilder. Did Whyte have a sense of entitlement when it came to being made the WBC mandatory? Some boxing fans think so.
Rivas – I can beat Whyte
“Whyte is a really strong guy, but I think with my technique, my speed, my power, my experience, I’m going to get on top,” said Rivas to ESPN.com. “That’s a guy that I can beat, but he’s strong, so I have to be very well prepared, and I will be. Each of us will show what we’re made of on Saturday and we can produce one of the best fights of the year.”
Well, it’s pretty obvious what Rivas needs to do for him to beat Whyte. Just push a fast pace, throw a lot of punches, and don’t let him get rest breaks. Whyte needs rest breaks because his stamina is terrible, and he can’t fight on the inside. The referee will be important for this fight, because Whyte does a lot of fouling. If the referee chooses to ignore the fouling from Whyte, then it’s going to be tough for Rivas to win the match, because he’ll likely get hit with rabbit punches, elbows and low blows all night long.
We saw Whyte rough up Chisora and Parker, and get away with his fouls. What’s interesting is the referee that worked the Whyte-Chisora rematch last December, penalized Chisora twice for fouls, and didn’t once deduct points from Whyte. He looked like he fouling Chisora repeatedly.
Hearn talks David Price vs. Dave Allen fight
“Allen against Price, it fascinates me,” said Hearn. “Dave Allen is overlooking Price by so far that he’s asking me to make the [Alexander] Povetkin fight now. David Price looks so focused for this fight. I just don’t know what’s going to happen. Is Price going to chin him early. And, is he going to be in control, and then gas out early after five or six rounds? Is the White Rhino going to chin him early? The Chisora-Spilka fight has been going under the radar. I think it’s going to be a fantastic fight,” said Hearn.