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Eddie Hearn Talks Cleverly, Rees, Selby, Smith, More

By Shaun Brown

Before Eddie Hearn flew out for this week’s IBF convention in Atlantic City, BoxingScene managed to grab a word with the Matchroom Promoter to discuss some topics from their latest show on Sat night in Cardiff, Wales that was entitled ‘The Second Coming’.

It proved to be a night of fighters inching closer to world title shots, a body-punching prospect showing he has the world at his feet, a former world champion getting back in the game and another former world champion bidding farewell to a 16-year professional career.

Gavin Rees, Lee Selby, Nathan Cleverly and Callum Smith were some of the main talking points but ‘Scene kicked off by asking Hearn about Paul Smith’s performance (TKO2 vs. David Sarabia) and the future for the British super middleweight title.

BoxingScene: What is going to happen with the British super middleweight title if Paul Smith fights Arthur Abraham for the WBO World title?

Hearn: The number one contender, if Paul vacates, will be Callum. If Paul fights Abraham he doesn’t have to vacate. I’m not sure he will until the Abraham fight has taken place then he’ll see where he’s at. Callum against Rocky [Fielding] is a great fight but I’m not sure it’s the right fight at this moment in time. I’m trying to build them both. I think we’ll have to see how it plays out. If I was Paul I’d get the Abraham fight out the way, which we’re hoping to get agreed this week, and hold on to it. He’s desperate to win it outright. If they (the British Boxing Board) do make Rocky Fielding v Callum Smith then there’s a lot of people wanting to see that fight and from there I put the numbers together, sit down with the fighters and say this is what you’d get for that fight and it’s up to you!

BoxingScene: Arthur Abraham v Paul Smith: How do you see that panning out?

Hearn: I think Paul’s got a shot. He’s going to be the outsider but he can punch. He’s punching hard, he looks really focused and he’s got a clear mind now. I think Abraham is at that stage in his career where he’s not looking unbelievable. Paul’s a live dog in the fight. He’s confident and I think it’ll be a great fight because he’d go there and give absolutely everything and try to knock Abraham out.

BoxingScene: How do you now go about matching Callum Smith after his latest win (TKO2) over Tobias Webb?

Hearn: With great difficulty. Fair play to Tobias Webb, he took the fight and no-one wants to fight Callum Smith right now. Webb was out sparring Abraham, he’s fit as a fiddle and he was so up for that fight because it was like it was his world title fight. He probably won the first round and I was thinking ‘Perfect this is what I wanted’. Callum is a beast at 12st. He’s hitting so hard. I think he’s capable now of competing for a world title. I’m not saying he’d win but I don’t think he’d look out of place. Slowly by slowly we’ll pick off the [WBC] rankings now and keep going. Jul 12 has got to be a credible opponent for him, someone that can test him and do what Tobias Webb did for five or six rounds. I don’t know how you do five or six rounds with Callum, that’s the problem. I’ve been harping on about him but because he’s quiet and not a loudmouth you don’t hear from him. But now he’s got a bit of swagger and got that spitefulness. I’m very, very excited about him.

Boxing Scene: With Gavin Rees now retired is that a hole you need to fill for your shows in Wales?

Hearn: I don’t think so. We’ve got some nice guys progressing. Chris Jenkins is a couple fights away from fighting for the British light welterweight title. Even Gary Buckland (who lost to Rees SD12), I said to him last night ‘I’ll have you on any of our shows’. He’s talking about moving down to super feather but I’d rather he stayed at lightweight because there’s so many good fights out there for him. Even if Gavin phoned me up now to continue, and he’d have every right after that performance, I’d say no. He knows in his heart that it’s time to call it a day. Every camp he has injuries and even this one he had horrendous injuries. Fair play to Buckland, he didn’t have to take the fight but he did because it was a decent payday and everyone wanted to see it. I’m pleased for Gavin. He’s got all his property paid off, he’s just opened a bar for himself in Wales and when they leave with all their eggs in a basket and financially secure you feel great.

BoxingScene: Was it all about Nathan Cleverly getting his confidence back on Sat night?

Hearn: You could see it in the changing-rooms, walking out and in the ring before the fight he was nervous. After the fight if people could see what I saw then I would tell you that was exactly the right fight for him. I said every time that when Shawn Corbin stepped up to a decent level in his career he got knocked out, we weren’t hiding nothing. But the bottom line is that what Nathan needed was a confidence booster. He said after the fight ‘Do you know what? I really needed that’. Tony Bellew was matched tougher against [Valery] Brudov, no doubt about that. Nathan will definitely have a tougher one next time because ultimately they’ll fight each other.

BoxingScene: Were you pleased with Lee Selby’s performance against Romulo Koasicha last night?

Hearn: It’s a tough one isn’t it? He was technically fantastic. He won every round against a game kid. When you look at the fights Selby has been in, that guy was not as maybe as good as anything Lee’s been in with but that’s because he’s not been in with the elite fighters. I wanna see Selby step on the gas and plant his feet rather than just boom-boom-boom, move and admire your work. He’s going to have to hit harder as he moves up the levels. Technically he’s great. I think there’s a lot more to come from, three or four levels, but we’ve got to find these levels when they’re needed.

BoxingScene: With all that being said what’s the next step for Lee?

Hearn: There’s a lot of talk about Abner Mares v Jayson Velez in a [WBC] final eliminator. But they’re talking about Mares getting another world title shot. If Mares doesn’t take that fight then we’re all over it. Hopefully we end up fighting Velez in a final eliminator but away from that there’s no easy fights for Lee Selby anymore because he’s top ten in every governing body, he’s had the apprenticeship and he’s been all over the country. He’s getting slung in for the next fight and I’m excited because there’s so much more to come from him.

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