Andy Ayling Takes Aim at Hearn Over McGuigan Disrespect

By Terence Dooley

Andy Ayling, Frank Warren’s Boxing Manager and the promoter for Queensberry Promotions, who recently won the rights to stage the British middleweight title fight between Warren’s charge Billy Joe Saunders and Matchroom’s John Ryder, contacted BoxingScene earlier today to flesh out the details of the email exchange he shared with Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sports.  It concerned a mooted September showdown between Scott Quigg, of Matchroom, and Carl Frampton, who fights on the Frank Warren bill at Wembley next month ahead of forging forward with his own promotional venture in his native Ireland alongside his friend, manager and mentor Barry McGuigan.

Warren confirmed that an email had been sent via a press release that was issued yesterday.  Hearn talked about it during an interview with BoxingScene last night, but told me that Warren’s proposed date of September was not workable as Quigg has been inactive since November and is waiting on news of when he will contest the ‘full’ WBA Super bantamweight title.  This was news to Ayling, who revealed some of the details of the offer during a telephone call on Friday evening.

“That’s not his problem,” said Ayling, who pointed out that Hearn’s concern that the fight is not feasible for September shouldn’t be his sole reason for turning the clash down.  “We made an offer for the services of Scott Quigg, not Eddie Hearn.  It’s Scott who’ll box.  Whether we can put the event together and sell it is our problem.  So his concern is very touching, but it’s not his problem.

“He said in his email reply to me: ‘Andy, we got your fax and September comes a little too soon for us, but I’m sure we can progress discussions in the new season.  Cheers, Eddie’.  In a paragraph in your article from yesterday, he says himself that Scott hasn’t been out the gym since November.  So what is the problem?  Is he fit or is he not fit?  Why isn’t September doable?”

He added: “In one paragraph he says Scott’s been inactive, in another he says that Scott’s had 25 fights already and he’s only 24, so that’s unusual in itself.  He is contradicting himself, and Eddie is the master of contradictions.  He’s also said that Scott will fight Carl tomorrow, well unfortunately we can’t do it tomorrow, but we can do it in September.  By the way, it wasn’t an early September date, it just said September — he didn’t ask about the date, venue or anything, he just said it was too early.

“If Scott is fighting at Bolton Arena this month then how the hell can he not be ready for September and to earn a purse that he won’t see for another fight on this earth?  It is there if he wants it.  That’s the point we’re trying to get across, we offered double the offer Eddie made to Hatton Promotions — his offer must have been laughable.  I don’t think it’s Scott — he’s always told me he wants the fight.”

Hearn also dismissed the email as an attempt at gaining exposure for Warren.  Ayling scoffed at this suggestion, arguing that it was a genuine offer for an autumn showdown between the best two Super bantamweights in the U.K.

“Frank doesn’t make offers because he needs exposure, he can use his column in The Sun for that,” he said.  “We didn’t hold a press conference and hold up a six foot cheque, like Eddie’s father [Barry] did many times.  We just sent a quick, simple fax from me to him asking for the fight to take place in September.  I asked him to discuss it with Scott and said we’d be grateful to hear his response.  I wonder if he even discussed it with Scott Quigg.

“What I can tell you, without telling you the figures, and having spoken to someone at Hatton Promotions, is that the offer is double the best offer Eddie ever made for Scott to fight Frampton.  So we value Scott double what Eddie’s rating him, and bearing in mind that he hasn’t fought since he made an offer for his services how can he say it wasn’t a ‘wow’ offer?  That means his offer was derisory.”

Ayling insisted that the fight would have presented the Bury-based boxer with his highest purse to date before asking why a counter-offer wasn’t presented. 

“It was very, very good — I’d be surprised if Scott did turn it down,” he said.  “Eddie didn’t come back and say he couldn’t do September because we’d have said: ‘What about November?’, and, like he said, he kyboshed the fight straight away.”

Hearn also stated that, despite a passionate fan base in Belfast, Frampton had not secured the type of big viewing figures that could justify Sky TV’s regular jaunts to the city, which is backed up by Frampton’s failure to feature in BARB’s Top 30 Other viewing figures in his last two fights — wins over Steve Molitor [TKO 6] and Kiko Martinez [TKO 9] respectively.  Adam Smith may have written ‘lift off’ on a scrap of paper following the great night against Martinez, but the crowd colour didn’t equate to skyrocketing viewing figures, Ayling lays the blame squarely at the feet of Hearn.

“After telling us how good Carl Frampton was, he says his ratings were rubbish,” he said.  “Obviously that’s a little bit of a dig, but never mind.  He says the ratings were less than [Carl] Froch, [Tony] Bellew, [Darren] Barker and Prizefighter, but goes on to say it was him that built his following.  So maybe he should look at himself because he didn’t do a great job, did he?

“He said Frampton wasn’t going to Belfast a few years ago and doing 5000 tickets.  Maybe that’s because you had Paul McCloskey on the bills and other John Breen fighters who were doing tickets.  That’s disrespectful to Barry McGuigan, who built Carl Frampton up at places likes the Ulster Hall [on shows McGuigan promoted himself prior to Frampton linking up with Matchroom in May 2011 for his win over Oscar Chacin and subsequent contests] — just like we built up Ricky Burns, Tony Bellew and Kevin Mitchell, like Mick Hennessy built up Darren Barker and Carl Froch, and Hatton Promotions built up Scott Quigg.  Who’s Eddie built up? 

“Barry started the kid off on practically nothing.  Then he suggests that he knows more than Barry about the boxing business, which smacks of arrogance.  To say: ‘I'm not a dentist.  I don't go into a surgery and try to perform a root canal.  I'm a promoter.  If someone wants to be involved who is not a promoter and doesn't understand the landscape the way I do then I'm not interested’, is wrong.  Barry’s got much more experience in boxing and as a promoter than Eddie has.  To say that is disrespectful and maybe that’s the reason why he doesn’t have Frampton anymore, it smacks of arrogance.

“People are saying this fight won’t happen because Frampton’s with BoxNation and Scott’s with Eddie Hearn, but we want it to happen.  Let me just say, we haven’t had a counter-offer.  If someone sends us an offer for an hundred quid for a fight then we’d send them one back saying: ‘How about a 150 quid?’  We didn’t get that offer, and that suggests the fight will only happen if Eddie wants it to happen.  We’re not preventing this fight from happening, nor is Barry McGuigan, and it is all smoke and mirrors from Hearn.”

Hearn’s problems with McGuigan stem from the former featherweight world champion’s role as both manager and promoter.  However, the “Clones Cyclone” dealt with this in an interview with me earlier this week by pointing out that Frampton will also co-promote the Ireland-based shows and, therefore, is guiding his own career rather than being led by the nose by Ireland’s chief boxing idol.

“Barry is not a difficult guy to deal with,” stated Ayling.  “Eddie’s saying it isn’t ethical for a promoter and manager to be one and the same.  Barry [Hearn] did it in the nineties [Writer’s note: This arrangement was discussed during Hearn’s court battle with Collins, in which Hearn was described as: ‘a manager of fighters and promoter of events’: ‘As manager he looks after the career of the individual professional: as a promoter he promotes the particular event and generally pays all expenses.’ Hearn v. Collins [1998] IEHC 187].”

“I don’t think Barry had any fighters in his stable that he didn’t manage and promote, and I know because I worked for him,” continued Ayling.  “I’d like to know when their policy changed.  My thoughts are that it might change again when Eddie’s allowed both a promoter’s and manager’s licence and can be a manager himself.

“On the Boxer-Manager agreement there’s a portion that they sign that is a waiver and says: ‘Before entering into any such engagements you have the rights set out in clause 6.2 of the aforesaid boxer/Manager Agreement and the right to know the nature and extent of any financial association I have with the intended Promoter’.
“So to say it is unethical is wrong.  If it was unethical it wouldn’t be allowed, and it was good enough for his dad and will be good enough for Eddie when he gets the chance to hold the managerial licence.  For me, he’s disrespecting people that have been in the game for a lot longer than he has.  Maybe he should show more respect and a lot less arrogance.”

And that was that — although Ayling, who lives in Brentwood, had a final message for Hearn, also of Brentwood.

“Just tell Eddie this, there’s more than one person in Brentwood who knows about boxing, so it isn’t just ‘The only way is Eddie’!” he quipped.

There will be some right larks if those two happen to bump into each other down at Sugar Hut this weekend.

McGuigan and Frampton speak to BoxingScene:

Frank Warren’s statement:

Eddie Hearn’s interview from Thursday:

Please send news and views to [email protected] or Twitter @Terryboxing.

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