@LJAPhotography

Talking Boxing

Interviews, opinions, features and news from the greatest sport in the world!

November 15, 2016

Eddie Hearn talks Monte Carlo show, 2017 and more

Hearn plans to sign between three and five fighters in the coming weeks.

by SHAUN BROWN

After his first promotion in Monte Carlo, Talking Boxing spoke to Eddie Hearn yesterday about Matchroom's Boxing debut show in the principality. The performances, the scoring as well as looking ahead to 2017. But first, we asked Hearn about his thoughts on the big news that rival Frank Warren has signed a broadcast deal with BT Sport.

TB: What’s your reaction to the BT Sport/Frank Warren deal?

EH: I think it’s great. You’ve got so many broadcasters now looking at boxing and getting involved with boxing that it can only be good news for the sport. For the fighters, for the fans... and the more broadcasting involved in the sport the bigger it will get.

TB: Does it make you rethink any of your plans for next year?

EH: Not really. We’re deep in our plans anyway, certainly for the first half. We hope it’ll mean Sky will spend even more money with us, which could be the case. Which is why I think it’s positive for everybody. I think we have too many fighters ourselves, probably. And it’s always a struggle to satisfy them, and we do do that, sometimes to the detriment of our business and our numbers as well. Whenever something like this happens you probably see some fighters that may leave, some fighters may come the other way. Just similar to what happened 2-3 years ago and what’s been happening for a while. I think it’s a good move for Boxnation, and I think for us it doesn’t really change anything. We’re very, very selective in terms of who we’re going to sign, and we’re just at that cycle now. We’ve just sort of completed a four-year cycle from the last GB Olympic squad. I think we done a great job for all those guys. We’ve got one world champion, another (Kal Yafai) I believe will win a world championship on December 10. Callum Smith is mandatory for the (WBC) world (super middleweight) title. Martin Ward, Scotty Cardle are British champions. They’ve done all excellently well, and we’re now deciding which of the new cycle we’re going to sign. First one was Katie Taylor, the others will be decided or announced in the next month or so, to move into the New Year with.

TB: Do you foresee any Matchroom fighters leaving next year? You mentioned that some fighters may leave, but do you personally see it happening?

EH: Probably, for a variety of reasons. The guys that feel like they’re not getting the attention, and there will be those guys. It’s a brutal business in a sense that if you’re not performing you’re not going to be getting the attention. So, therefore, there will be guys who don’t feel like they’re at the top of our priority list, and to be honest with you they might not be. We might be looking for guys to let go, and there might be others that might say I think I might get more attention over there (at Frank Warren). I’m only interested in the elite guys and growing the people that I believe can be elite fighters. Every single fighter that walks through my door at the moment I say to them, ‘If you cannot be a world champion please leave the building’. And I don’t meant to be harsh, but I’m not interested. I can’t be trying to breed British champions, we’re too big. Maybe we’re a victim of our own success and that reflects upon the perception of the broadcaster now. British, Commonwealth and European champions... it’s an incredible achievement but if there’s 12 world champions in Britain, of course, the broadcaster wants world championship boxing. We have to breed the next generation and there are fighters that we may have at the moment that won’t cut that grade. And there might be fighters that we’re not doing a good job for. Maybe for the reason that they’re not a primary focus of ours. Some fighters we work with on a fight-by-fight basis, other fighters are tied into a contract. But the ones that are on a fight-by-fight basis, yeah, if they’re not our top priority I wouldn’t blame them for looking at other opportunities in the marketplace. It’s standard procedure.

TB: With your words, ‘If you cannot be a world champion please leave the building’, do you believe Martin Murray can still be a world champion?

EH: Yeah, I do. I still believe he can win a world title. He’s proven over the years, and as he comes towards the end of his career, not saying he’s at the end, but he’s now in the final phase, I want to get him a world title in the UK. Can he beat Fedor Chudinov for the (WBA) world title? Yes, I believe he can. Others fights out there in the division; DeGale, Badou Jack might be tougher for him but I certainly believe he can win a world title. He’s finished the year well, have a nice Christmas, come back in the spring/summer with a world title shot. Fedor Chudinov is a plan for Martin Murray moving forward as is Gilberto Ramirez in Mexico.

TB: Is the cut that Stephen Smith suffered against Jason Sosa something that’s going to keep him out for a while?

EH: It was a very, very tough fight. He’s (Smith) had a busy year. Pedraza, quick turnaround to fight Brizuela and then this fight. I said to him yesterday at the airport, ‘Keep your head up. One, you’ve earned good money this year. That’s the conversation you have with fighters that you don’t really say publicly to fans because they’re not really interested, but it’s a big concern to me. Two, you’ve been in two very competitive world title fights against two very good world champions and your stock has risen incredibly over the year, even with two defeats and you would’ve improved a lot even if you don’t realise it.' He’s still young, he’s still fresh... there was moments in the second and third round when I thought this is going to be an early stoppage, and then we would have really have had to look at it and thought 'Where do we go from here?' And then from the fourth round, which was electric, to go and finish like he did shows me he’s got plenty in the tank, plenty of heart and he’s a good fighter and sooner or later you’re going to get a shot. Not saying an easy shot, but might be a different style where you can overcome it. And now you’re in a situation where the profile says perhaps you can do Stephen Smith in Liverpool for a world title shot, and it will do well at the gate. One problem you’ve got at the moment is the purses we’re paying are so high that it’s difficult, if (a show) can’t sell 6, 7, 8,000 tickets, it’s difficult to make the numbers work. And when you can talk about fighters migrating it’s very difficult for other promoters to pay what we’re paying at the moment, that’s a concern as well but we can’t pay that to everybody.

TB: Do you believe that Stephen Smith and Liborio Solis both deserve rematches after Saturday night?

EH: When a fight is a voluntary, like they both were, then it’s very difficult to say he deserves a rematch. Fans might not understand that, but what I mean by that is that they have been chosen by that fighter to get that opportunity. It’s not like they won final eliminators to get into the mandatory position, and they’ve earned their shot by law to fight that champion. In terms of how close the McDonnell fight was... and I had him winning the fight, I spoke to, and I don’t want to put them under a bus, at ringside Adam Booth and he said he had McDonnell just winning it. I went over to (British Boxing Board of Control General Secretary) Robert Smith after the fight and he said he had McDonnell by two. Then I went to the Sky (commentary) team and Tony Bellew said he had Solis by three! I asked Paul Smith, he said Solis by two. I thought we’d be alright, and when you realise that’s what Sky are telling the viewers that at home it’s very easy for them. I know they’ve got their opinions, but you can’t help but listen to the commentary and look at the scoring of the Sky pundits. Around ringside it was mixed. No-one had anyone clear, I think Tony’s one was the clearest one I’d seen. I was quite confident. The only thing that was terrible was the actual scoring from the judges and what’s harsh about that. Solis has given his all for 12 rounds, and he'll start to think why do I bother? I don’t think many could’ve give it two rounds either way, either side.

TB: I had it by four to Solis.

EH: Did you really? Bloody hell.

TB: I gave Solis five of the first six rounds.

EH: I had it 3-2 after five rounds. From the eighth, maybe the ninth I gave McDonnell every round. The final round was close. I gave him a run of four rounds on the spin that changed the fight. I didn’t really see anyone that give it wider than two rounds to McDonnell. I’ve seen a few give it by three to Solis but that’s the widest I’ve heard. After the first three rounds I think I had Solis three up. Gilberto Mendoza text me straight after and showed me his scorecard which had McDonnell winning by two. The frustrating thing is fans saying ‘Oh, they’re on a bribe’, you couldn’t be further away from that in boxing. It just don’t happen. But it’s a concern, and sometimes it goes the other way. I didn’t get any ‘Eddie Hearn bribing judges’ comments when Jack Arnfield got a 118-110 against John Ryder. Again, that was a round either way. It’s just poor judging, but how can you possibly say McDonnell won that fight 9-3? And that’s what hurts. But how can you get a situation when you’re saying four rounds to Solis, and they’re saying six rounds to McDonnell? It was poor, poor judging. Going back to the rematches; if we don’t have to fight (WBA super champion Rau'shee) Warren, and if we don’t have to move up yes I think the Solis fight is a sellable rematch. With Sosa against Smith it doesn’t matter if he deserves a rematch or not. If you can pay him to take the rematch he’s going to have the money anyway. And does the rematch sell in Liverpool? Yes, it does for me. It’s not like Smith was robbed. If you feel like Solis was robbed then there was more case for a rematch maybe. At the same time it’s difficult when it’s a voluntary and we’re supposed to fight Warren, who knows what’s going to happen with that. We might move to 122, but what Solis did do was improve his value especially in the UK.

TB: You now move on to your shows on November 26 and December 10, and then planning for 2017?

EH: The planning for 2017 started a month ago really. You’ve got DeGale v Jack starting everything off on January 14. Then we hope we can get Bellew v Haye over the line in February. I’d like to make the Luke Campbell v Mendy rematch for Hull, then we do Crolla-Linares rematch in March.

TB: In America?

EH: No. Be in Manchester. Then we’ll do Klitschko v Joshua, all going well December 10, in April.

TB: Outdoors?

EH: Yeah, I think so. Then you’ve got Burns, what’s he going to do. Then McDonnell will be out again that kind of time. Cleverly’s going to rematch Braehmer, that’ll probably be in March as well.

TB: In Germany?

EH: Yep. Just loads really. You’ve got Katie Taylor too. We’ll sign between three and five fighters in the next 2-3 weeks to make their debuts.

TB: Olympians, I presume?

EH: Yeah, some Olympians. Some GB squad members. Like I said, it’s the new cycle. Taking the ones on that we believe in and growing with them and seeing where they can go.