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Eddie Hearn: The WBC Franchise Championship is NO good for Boxing

Anthony Joshua Dillian Whyte Tyson Fury

By Jim Maltzman: Eddie Hearn’s view on the WBC possibly elevating Tyson Fury to ‘Franchise Champion’ is they shouldn’t do it because the concept is bad for the sport of boxing. Hearn doesn’t think it’s good for the WBC champions to be able to skirt around fighting their mandatory challengers like Dillian Whyte.

WBC heavyweight champion Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) hasn’t said anything about wanting to be elevated to Franchise champion, but his promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank is interested in that happening. What Arum doesn’t want is for Fury to get tied down fighting Whyte for the first half of 2021.

If Fury didn’t have the Whyte mandatory defense, he could go into a unification match against IBF/WBA/WBO champion Anthony Joshua, which is predicted to be the biggest fight in British heavyweight history.

Hearn is in a tough position with his Matchroom Boxing promotional company guiding the card of Whyte and the WBO mandatory Oleksandr Usyk. As Whyte’s promoter, Hearn can’t say he would prefer Joshua fight Fury first because Dillian’s mandatory is due next February.

It would look like Hearn is abandoning Whyte if encouraged Fury to ignore his obligations and Fury Joshua in early next year.

Anthony Joshua Dillian Whyte Tyson Fury

WBC Franchise championship = BAD for Boxing says Hearn

“The Franchise championship is no good for the sport of boxing,” said Hearn to SI Podcast. “It’s the same for Dillian Whyte against Tyson Fury.

“I don’t want Fury to become WBC Franchise champion and the WBC to elevate Dillian Whyte from interim champion to World champion because he won’t ever feel like he beat the world heavyweight champion to become the heavyweight champion of the world.

“By the way, I don’t want AJ to fight Fury for the Franchise championship because some people will say it’s not undisputed. As a champion, you have mandatories. Anthony Joshua has two mandatories; Kubrat Pulev, who he’ll deal with next, and then Oleksandr Usyk.

“We do have an issue with Oleksandr Usyk. He has to get his shot at the heavyweight title. Maybe AJ fights him in the spring. Some mandatory challengers aren’t the most deserving challengers in the world. Dillian Whyte is the most deserving challenger I’ve seen for a long time. So give him his opportunity.

“Maybe AJ against Fury isn’t an undisputed fight. I wouldn’t stop it from happening if it wasn’t, but wouldn’t it be fantastic if that fight is for all the marbles,” said Hearn.

Whether Hearn believes what he’s saying about the WBC Franchise championship being bad for boxing or not is unknown. But given that Hearn promotes Whyte and NOT Fury, can’t say that he would be okay with that fight not happening next February.

The Franchise IS good for boxing in terms of it, allowing the famous champions to face the most prominent name possible to maximize revenue. We’re seeing that with Vasiliy Lomachenko using his WBC 135-pound Franchise title to veer around a smaller money fight against Devin Haney to face the famous IBF champion, Teofimo Lopez.

Whyte and Usyk WON’T fight each other

“No, not really because both guys [Whyte and Usyk] want their shot at the world heavyweight titles,” said Hearn when told why doesn’t he just match Usyk against Whyte on the undercard of Joshua vs. Fury. “That’s such a risky fight for both.

“If you put that to them, they’d say, ‘What? Why should I fight.’ I believe Fury would fight Dillian Whyte if he were mandated to. Legally, we have to enforce the rights of Dillian Whyte, so we’ll see what happens in that respect.

“Deontay Wilder won’t fight Dillian Whyte. Oleksandr Usyk would fight anyone, but both of those guys are focused on the world’s heavyweight title.  They don’t have to fight each other,” said Hearn of Usyk and Whyte.

“They’re mandatories for those respective champions. Now he’s [Whyte] going in with Alexander Povetkin. No crowd. It’s not an easy fight and another top ten guy that he’s fighting,” said Hearn.

No one expects Dillian Whyte and Oleksandr Usyk to take seriously what Tyson Fury’s promoter Bob Arum is recommending with him, saying that they should fight each other first. Usyk and Whyte (27-1, 18 KOs) because they’ve already earned their mandatory status, and neither of them will want to take an additional step before challenging for a world title.

Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) is taking a risk in facing Dereck Chisora (32-9, 23 KOs) this year, considering that’s a fight that he could lose. Chisora punches hard, he’s big, and he has a lot of experience. Usyk, who has fought just once since moving up to heavyweight, doesn’t possess power, and he’s almost as old as Chisora.

Whyte is taking a dangerous fight in Alexander Povetkin later this year, and that’s a match that it’s not a given that he’ll win.

Anthony Joshua Dillian Whyte Tyson Fury

Hearn wants Joshua vs. Pulev in November WITH a live crowd

“I’m speaking from a UK perspective, and I see crowds beginning to come back by early August or early September or October,” said Hearn when asked when Joshua vs. Pulev will take place.

‘That would be fantastic to do that fight with a crowd. So I really think the Pulev fight will happen in November,” said Hearn.

It would be a bad idea for Hearn to wait until the last moment before he schedules a date and a location for Joshua vs. Pulev. He’s hoping that crowds will be allowed back into sporting events in the UK by August, September, October, or November, but that may not happen.

The first wave of the pandemic is still going on, and the second wave is expected in the fall. Without a vaccine, the situation will likely not improve in any way. For the UK government to allow crowds back in this year, that would be a risky move. For a Joshua vs. Pulev fight, we’re probably talking about a bunch of 60,000, which is a lot of people to be crowding for a sporting event.

If Hearn is putting money in front of the safety of the fans, it would be disappointing. It would be helpful for people in the boxing world to see Joshua face Pulev in a stadium,  but not if they’re going to be putting their lives at risk.


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