Hearn Eyes Ford vs. Ball Undercard Clash on Beterbiev-Bivol

By Daniel Mcglinchey - 03/04/2024 - Comments

Promoter Eddie Hearn wants to match newly crowned WBA featherweight champion Raymond Ford against Nick Ball on the undercard of the June 1st Artur Beterbiev vs. Dmitry Bivol card in Saudi Arabia.

Putting Ford in with Ball would be an in-house Matchroom Boxing contest and more for UK consumption. American fans would much prefer that Ford face IBF featherweight champion Luis Alberto Lopez next if he’s going to stay at 126.

Ford’s Shaky Win Fuels Lopez Preference

Lopez is a better fighter than Ball. American fans would prefer to see Ford doe against Luis Lopez, as he can punch and has talent. It’s not surprising that Hearn isn’t chomping at the bit to put Ford in with Lopez, because hie barely got through his fight last Saturday night.

Ford (15-0-1, 8 KOs) won the vacant WBA 126-lb title last Saturday night with a 12th-round knockout win over Otabek Khomatov in Verona, New York.

The referee stopped the fight with seven seconds remaining in the round after Kholmatov suffered a leg injury and could barely stand. Ford was losing the fight and was lucky the referee stopped it. If Hearn puts Raymond Ford in with Luis Alberto Lopez, his dreams of turning him into a star in the U.S. could end immediately.

Ford isn’t that type of talent to hold up under the fire power of Lopez. Ford’s win over Kholmatov was the second controversial victory, as many fans believe he should have been given a loss in his fight against Aaron Perez in 2021. That fight scored an eight-round draw.

Obstacles Remain

For Hearn to realize his hopes of Ford fighting Ball (19-0, 11 KOs), Nick must get through his fight against WBC featherweight champion Rey Vargas in one piece this Friday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Those two are fighting on the undercard of Anthony Joshua vs. Francis Ngannou on DAZN PPV.

Ford said that he wanted to vacate his WBA title due to the difficulty of making the weight cut to get down to 126, and he wants to move up to 130 and challenge WBC super featherweight champion O’Shaquie Foster or IBF champ Joe Cordina next. Hearn will have to persuade Ford to stay at 126 for a little while longer if he wants him to defend against Ball next.

If Ball loses to Rey Vargas this Friday, it will send a bad message to fans if he challenges Ford for his WBA title rather than defending against another contender that is coming off a win.

“Next week in Saudi Arabia, there’s a great fight, Nick Ball against Rey Vargas,” Hearn said to Matchroom Boxing. “It’ll be really interesting to see who wins that, you know. If Nick Ball wins, maybe we get that cut stitched up and stick Ray on the 5v5 [event].”

Ford’s Star Power

“He’s become a star now in American boxing,” Hearn continued about Ford. “A lot of people watched that show tonight.

“A lot of people will become a Ray Ford fan and I’d like to see him make one or two defences, maybe a unification, and then move up to super feather[weight].”

Ford hasn’t become a star in the U.S. yet. He’ll need to defeat the likes of Luis Alberto Lopez, Robeisy Ramirez, Foster, Rey Vargas, Emanuel Navarrete, and Joe Cordina. It’s highly questionable whether Ford beats any of those fighters.

You hate to knock a guy after his biggest win of his career, but these fighters are better than Ford’s last opponent, and he would have lost to that guy if not for the stopping the fight with seven seconds remaining.