Eddie Hearn Q and A
By Shaun Brown
The always affable Eddie Hearn recently spoke with BoxingScene about the next few months for Matchroom Boxing. Title fights, a remarkable looking Prizefighter and the futures of Carl Froch, Darren Barker and Kenny Anderson were just some of the items discussed. As the conversation went on it was easy to understand the Londoner’s bubbling enthusiasm ahead of what should be a memorable period for his outfit.
BOXINGSCENE.COM: What’s your assessment of the line-up for Prizefighter: Lightweights II?
Hearn: “I would think this is the best yet. It is a term that gets banded about a bit too easily, but it’s difficult to see otherwise with a night like this. The Olympia [where the event will be held] holds 1,700 and we’re almost sold out with boxer’s ticket orders alone. With the kind of fighters that are involved the atmosphere that night will be incredible.
“When you make a Prizefighter it puts some ideas into people’s heads about what they should do. So for that, I take my hat off to guys like Derry Mathews, Gary Sykes and Anthony Crolla. What is showing more and more is that a loss in Prizefighter is not the end of the world because it gives you exposure as a ‘former Prizefighter contestant’ or ‘former Prizefighter semi-finalist, finalist’ so it’s a selling point now. Look at Kieran Farrell, the kid thinks he can win but he knows if he doesn’t it will still do wonders for his career.
“You also have to look at one of the local lads, Nathan Brough. He is huge for the weight and has to be in with a shout too. It’s just a great looking event.”
BOXINGSCENE.COM: Did the likes of Derry Mathews and Gary Sykes come to you or did Matchroom go to them?
Hearn: “Derry sniffed around – he’d heard there was going to be another Prizefighter and the Olympia is only a stone’s throw from where he lives. He had other options but he knows he can win that £32,000 prize or certainly go very close. No matter what happens, I think I’ll be working with Derry and looking to get him on the Carl Froch undercard in November.
“Gary Sykes is moving up in weight, but Steve Wood [Sykes’ manager] asked if I’d be interested in having him in it and I said: ‘Of course I’d be bloody interested’. Steve’s already got Stephen Jennings and Terry Needham in this so he’s well represented.”
BOXINGSCENE.COM: In hindsight do you wish that this was taking place at a bigger arena?
Hearn: “The Echo Arena wasn’t available, unfortunately. They had some music act called Cheryl Cole booked for that date. I told them: ‘You gotta move her for Prizefighter’. With the Echo I’d have a great big arena, but probably not full so the atmosphere would be lost. The Olympia may be a much smaller venue but what an atmosphere it’s going to be. This show would do 3,000 but that’s a funny number in terms of getting the right venue because I want the best possible atmosphere for this.
“The thing with Prizefighter is that you want every competitor to have their own pocket of support which is probably why we lose some atmosphere with the International Prizefighter.”
BOXINGSCENE.COM: What can the winner of October’s Prizefighter look forward to?
Hearn: “We’d be looking at getting him on the Froch undercard and perhaps fighting for the British or European title.”
BOXINGSCENE.COM: So will the current holder of those belts, Gavin Rees, vacate?
Hearn: “We’d like to leave any vacating belts as late as possible for Gavin just in case something happens in the lead-up to the fight. He’s fighting Richard Abril for the WBA title on October so maybe a few weeks before we’ll vacate the European but he doesn’t have to vacate the British.”
BOXINGSCENE.COM: How do you respond to boxing fans concerns that Abril is “all wrong” for Rees?
Hearn: “You’re fighting for a world title so you’re not going to fight a mug are you? I’ve seen various tweets and comments, but let’s remember that Abril has three losses on his record. We know this is a tough fight for Gavin but when you get to this level this is what you expect.”
BOXINGSCENE.COM: One of your new signings, Rocky Fielding, appears in his first title fight on the Prizefighter show what are your plans for his future?
Hearn: “The good thing about Rocky is that when people come to fight him he’s dangerous, but against journeymen, well it’s always hard to look good against them. But when someone comes to fight him like in his last fight, albeit it was a limited Hungarian, you can see how spectacular Rocky can look [Fielding stopped Ferenc Hafner in the first round of that contest].
“Rocky’s next fight against Wayne Reed [for the Central Area Super Middleweight title] is a dangerous fight for him. Wayne’s fought guys like Kenny Anderson, Eamonn O’Kane and he beat Alistair Warren in his last fight who recently took our John Ryder all the way on points. So this is a tricky fight against an awkward guy.
“We want to get Rocky on the Carl Froch bill in November, win an English title and then get him prepared for a British title shot next spring/summer. But there’s no rush.”
BOXINGSCENE.COM: You’re working with Kenny Anderson at the moment and he was due to fight George Groves on September 14. After Groves’s was cut on Saturday night, will this fight ever happen?
Hearn: “I actually talked to Kenny earlier and we made a decision that we’re going to get him on the Kell Brook show [in October], which will be announced next week, in a good and meaningful fight. We can’t wait forever for George Groves. From now on there’s no more messing about. We want that fight and if the fight gets made beforehand then we’ll take it because we’ll be ready, but Groves isn’t going to be ready for September 14. To be honest, I doubt him and Adam Booth were even going to take the fight anyway. In all honesty they don’t really need the Anderson fight now. They went out to America at the weekend – George looked reckless, traded bombs, but looked exciting.
“Are the boxing board going to accept another postponement? The injury to George’s eye is so obvious that they probably will. Maybe the board should strip him, but I don’t think they’d have the balls to do that. If they did then Kenny can fight for the vacated title and his first defence can be against George. We’ve got to get on with our business and look after Kenny’s career. This has gone on far too long.”
BOXINGSCENE.COM: Will Grzegorz Proska’s world title fight against Gennady Golovkin be on Sky television?
Hearn: “It should be, but I’m not sure if it will be live, it might be shown delayed on the Sunday morning.”
BOXINGSCENE.COM: Any plans for Darren Barker after his comeback fight in September?
Hearn: “Firstly, it’s going to be great to have Darren back. If he comes through the Simone Rotolo fight then at the end of November we’ll be looking to make Darren against Martin Murray.”
BOXINGSCENE.COM: No word yet on an opponent for Carl Froch?
Hearn: “Nothing definite but there’s no shortage of options. We are looking at November third or the 10th for that show. This might be the first of Carl’s last three fights. The one in November, the Bute rematch and then Kessler hopefully outdoors next year. Then I think he’ll sit down and discuss the future. The trouble for Carl is that because of his run of opponents everyone wants to see him in a tear-up, but he is due something a little bit more easily, if you can associate that word with Carl.”
BOXINGSCENE.COM: And what of the future for Matchroom Boxing?
Hearn: “We just want to put on good shows. There’s a bigger demand these days for tougher fights. Broadcasters are getting tough on promoters, and rightly so. They want fewer mismatches.
“I don’t care if we have non-Matchroom fighters on our shows I just want to put on great shows. We offered Frank Maloney the chance to have David Price on our shows, not as a Matchroom fighter but as a Frank Maloney fighter but you saw what he had to say.”
[After his long term deal with Sky ended, Frank Maloney said: “It’s ironic that Sky now tell me to do a deal with Eddie Hearn. What he knows about boxing I could put on a postage stamp and still sign my name under it.”
“Maybe it’s about ego,” Hearn continued. “Even someone like Jamie McDonnell, he’s got a world title eliminator coming up and we’d love to have him on one of our shows. I keep repeating myself, but all we want is to put on great shows for the fans and the fighters.”