Eddie Hearn’s top three fighter wish list, reflections, and future plans
By Mehmood Ahmad: In a wide-ranging interview, major promoter Eddie Hearn reflected on his career to date and plans for the future, some of which may come as a surprise for boxing fans.
As lucky as he was to be born into the world of live boxing events though his Father Barry Hearn and his company Matchroom Sports, there is no doubt his passion for boxing, sales and management skills and unheralded levels of hard work have taken the company to new heights.
Selling out stadiums in the UK, striking exclusive TV deals, and tackling the US boxing market successfully so far are achievements few others could have completed.
Interestingly Hearn does not see himself working in boxing indefinitely and is already making plans for the future by ensuring Matchroom Boxing is becoming less reliant on him to operate. His understudy Frank Smith, who started at a young age with the company and worked himself upright to the top, has already been eased into a position to take over from Hearn.
Possibly the only thing Smith lacks currently is Hearn’s undoubted speaking ability; not many can store boxer information, control a press conference, or stoke up interest in an event better than Hearn. It is impressive how Hearn constantly appears to be working on a much bigger picture than most others. He has repeatedly stated he does not want to be a Bob Arum or a Frank Warren like figure and remain in boxing his whole life.
Like his father Barry, who branched out to promote darts and snooker, Eddie has plans to produce great live TV and events in the world of Football and Music. There is no doubt he will have learned a huge amount through his work with Sky Sports and international streaming service DAZN, his track record suggests nothing but success, and it will be exciting to see the kind of impact he can have in these billion-pound industries.
For a man who has experienced a ridiculous amount of special boxing nights, Hearn says the Michael Brodie/In Jin Chi classic is the best fight he has ever seen live. The Joshua/Klitschko humdinger is an obvious career-high, but he speaks fondly of earlier memories such as the Barker/Geale, Brook/Porter, and Froch/Bute fights.
Memories he now feels “jealous” of and nights where he “did not have a clue” regarding boxing promotion. “With success comes responsibility,” he states, and it is clear his mind may be searching to find that initial buzz of a new venture sooner rather than later.
Comically he speaks of the Froch/Groves rematch easily being the toughest deal to make, having to relay messages to Froch through his wife while they holidayed in Dubai while Groves, on the other hand, was refusing to even speak to him. Walking back to his hotel from the arena encountering drunken UK fight fans after the Joshua loss to Andy Ruiz, before then having to prepare for his Golovkin show the next weekend was a tough period. However, the tragic loss of Patrick Day is unquestionably his lowest moment in the sport.
Top of his list of fighters to sign today if he could is Tyson Fury. Famously he rejected the chance to sign him a few years ago following a meeting in Monaco before Fury began his inspirational comeback, he felt Fury wanted too much money for fights that were not good enough thinking “you ain’t ever gonna come back anyway, look at the size of you,” said Hearn to Sky Sports Boxing. Well, they do say if you have never been wrong about something, you have never really done anything.
Fury’s current situation is an unusual one with his link up to Bob Arum’s Top Rank, MTK Global, as well as Frank Warren. Remarkably Hearn has never spoken to Warren directly in all their years in boxing; however, he has had talks with Frank’s son Francis and others within the team; bitterness hasn’t quite entered Hearn’s character yet as much as it seems to have hit some of the older generations of promoters.
With management companies such as MTK Global making such great strides in acting as a go-between, hopefully, big fights with different promoters will increase in possibility, especially post-Covid lockdown.
The second and third fighters Hearn would love to sign today if he could are Ryan Garcia and Gervonta Davis. His ideal scenario is to match up Devin Haney against Garcia with the winner facing Davis. Although what Luke Campbell thinks when he hears this, his mind no doubts already completely baffled by the WBC’s handling of the champion in recess gate situation, we can only imagine.
Hearn’s dream matchup would be to see Muhammad Ali’s “underrated durability and toughness” against a prime Mike Tyson. It is true we, unfortunately, were not able to see a prime Mike against the likes of Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield, and Hearn believes Tyson was still the best of that era.
If he could pick anyone to sit next to him ringside, it would be Conor McGregor, and Tom Cruise would be his choice to play him in his film biography, height issues aside, of course.
To end with, there is only one boxing hero Hearn would want to spend isolation with, and that is Muhammad Ali. His dream would be to sit down and watch modern heavyweight classics such as Holyfield vs. Bowe and listen to all of Ali’s tales, showing off his company to Dave Allen, who looks on from afar via Instagram Live.
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