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Hearn wants fighters to agree to 50-50 match-ups


By Charles Brun: Eddie Hearn wants to reset boxing by staging more fights that involve boxers competing in 50-50 matches that the fans want to see. With the loss of gate revenue because of the pandemic, the costs need to be reduced for the events.

It’s a revolutionary idea that Hearn has, as it’s a huge departure from what we’ve been seeing in the last 20 years.

Sadly, mismatches have now become the norm and underperforming events expected.  If Hearn gets his way, he could change the sport of boxing for the positive and reverse the negative course sport has been on.

This means that either the fighters will need to agree to smaller purses, or they’ll need to be willing to face opposition that the boxing public wants to see. It could prove to be an impossible task because Hearn can’t drag these fighters kicking and screaming into competitive 50-50 matches. They’ve got to want to fight better opposition, and that’s the problem.

If the demand for the fights increases due to the matches being 50-50 affairs, then this will offset the loss of the gate.

Hearn could hit a wall though with the fighters and their managers refusing to take risky fights, and that’ll make it tough for these guys to stay active.

The other promoters are expected to decrease the purses rather than put their fighters in 50-50 fights.

Fighter’s purses don’t have to change

“Every promoter I speak to now is saying, ‘We need to start now controlling fighter’s purses because they’re getting out of hand, and I have to agree,” said Hearn to IFL TV. “That is correct. One of the problems boxing is faced with is fighters’ purses have increased to the point where.

“I have no problems a fighter making a lot of money, but the numbers have got to stack up, and also, it’s got to be a fight that people want to see. For me, I know that other promoters are now going to make sure that fighters take less money or bring purses down.

“That’s not me, that’s math. You haven’t got the gate money coming in anymore. The only way you can make shows work is to reduce costs, and a major cost of a show is the purses. I’d like to go away from that and say, I don’t want to reduce purses if we can help it. I just want to make sure we’re putting on proper fights.

I think this is a good excuse for us to reset boxing with broadcasters as well, and say, ‘Look, purses don’t have to change, but the fights that you take do,’ you know? If we only have five fights here, I can’t afford a s*** fight. I can’t afford a warmup fight or a tick over fight, do you know what I mean?” said Hearn.

The pay-per-view buys are mostly generated from fan interest in the main event and the co-main event. Unless Hearn is able to pressure those guys to agree to 50-50 fights, it’s not going to work.

Hearn wants 50-50 fights

“I’m losing the opportunity. I’ve only got five opportunities out of nine to give you great fights, and I’m going to get moaned at whatever I do,” said Hearn. “So I don’t want to get moaned out, so I want to make sure that every fight we do is as close as a 50-50 fights.

“Now listen. Sometimes a younger fighter is going to come off and kick off a show. They’re not going to be in 50-50 fights. You can’t be irresponsible and say to a fighter, ‘Sorry, mate, you’ll have a 50-50 fight, or you’re not fighting. ‘I’ve only had four fights. He wants to sling me in a 50-50.’

“We’ve got to get as close to that as we can. I think the great thing about all British fighters is just that. We know what we’re going to get now. Fighters that are ticket sellers, who can’t now get out and who can’t now fight on shows, will be looking to take chances.

“Kicking off a show might be a guy that’s having a tick over fight. Who can I give as an example? Jordan Gill and Ted Cheeseman, for example. They were both to have six and eight-rounders at the O2. You’ve got no problem doing that, but now you’ve got to fight fighter X from Manchester in a proper fight of eight rounds.

“So before we even get to those championship fights, at least we see those warmup fights as actually competitive fights against a guy that you know is actually coming to win as well in a proper fight,” said Hearn.

Eddie needs to practice what he preaches with his upcoming cards. He’s got some fights that aren’t even close to being 50-50 affairs.

Are these 50-50 fights?

  • Anthony Joshua vs. Kubrat Pulev
  • Oleksandr Usyk vs. Dereck Chisora

Fighters will miss their chance if they’re too picky

“So I’m excited, and so my job this week is to go to all the managers and say, ‘This is your potential date, and this is the fight that we’re looking to make. Are you happy with that?'” said Hearn.

“It’s not just a case of ‘No’ off you go. It’s a case of, ‘No, how about this one?’ And if it’s ‘No, no, no, no,’ then it’s, ‘We’ll see you in November or December or we’ll see you next year. Who’s ready to fight?’

“So in that respect, like my friend Dana White, we do need to go a little bit and follow the UFC model. ‘Hands up in who wants to fight. Hands up in who wants a real fight. Okay, these are your options.’ ‘Okay, I’m in. I’m out of there. Matchroom Fight camp, sign me up.’

“There’s been a couple of fighters that have said, ‘We won’t be ready for that.’ We have eight or nine weeks before the start. So if you haven’t been keeping yourself in some kind of nick, then maybe you can’t make it, but I’d like to think that you are in some kind of nick,” said Hearn.

If too many of Hearn’s fighters reject his pressure for them to fight better opposition, then his cards could be empty of the name guys. Hearn is facing a problem that has permeated boxing forever. The management for fighters tends to set them up with fluff opposition for the majority of their careers.

The only time fighters face quality guys is when they fight for a world title. If they win the belt, a lot of champions milk their titles against soft opposition. Look at former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder’s record. Once he won the WBC title, Wilder fought largely fluff opposition.

If Hearn tries to change the way fighters are matched, he could scuttle his promotional company. The poor match-making is like cancer in the terminal stage, and the management don’t realize that they’re hurting the sport and their own fighters’ careers.

Live crowds may not be an option this year

“You should be because you’re a pro. 90% of the fighters are ready, and they just want to get out and carry on their careers,” said Hearn. “Listen, I was talking to AJ. AJ wants to fight here at Fight Camp.’ I don’t know if that’s necessarily going to be an option, but he wants to fight.

“This is what you do, mate. I want to go back to the office. I want to go back to work. That’s what I do. So fighters, I’m sure, would prefer to fight in front of live crowds. That’s not going to be an option for the interim, and it may not even be an option until next year. So be a pro, get prepared, and get a fight in the bank. Get your money in the bank and progress your career and let’s go,” said Hearn.

If the second wave of the pandemic hits the UK and the U.S, it’s likely that live events won’t be allowed for the remainder of the year. We’ll see another lockdown, but this one even longer than the current one.

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