By Frank Warren
THERE WERE SOME typically selective recollections from my Matchroom counterpart Eddie Hearn in the Telegraph on Saturday where he regaled us with yet another version of how he saved the sport from oblivion in this country.
Boxing was dead ten years ago, he informed, because it was taking place in leisure centres with banks of empty seats and basketball hoops on the wall. Then along came Eddie with Sweet Caroline and the people are singing and cheering.
That is the gist of it anyway.
Well, looking back, our promotions ten years ago were far from exclusive to leisure centres. Even though the Hatton-Calzaghe era had drawn to a conclusion, we were putting on shows at venues such as the ExCel Arena in Docklands, the then named MEN Arena in Manchester, the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, the Bolton Arena, the Indoor Arena in Cardiff and the 02 Arena.
I don’t remember too many basketball hoops as we successfully promoted Amir Khan towards a world title at the time, or packing out the 02 for the blockbuster between David Haye and Enzo Maccarinelli. At the same time we were launching the professional careers of the likes of Tony Bellew, Nathan Cleverly, the Smith brothers, Kevin Mitchell, Dereck Chisora, James DeGale, Liam Walsh and many others, while also steering Ricky Burns towards becoming a world champion.
The fallow period coincided with Hearn’s own foray into the pay-per-view market with the box office mismatch between Haye and Audley Harrison. This resulted in Sky withdrawing from the concept that Hearn now so depends upon in the UK while attempting to bring about its demise in the US.
It was the reason I stepped away from Sky and set about launching BoxNation, where we quickly got down to business putting on fights such as Bellew-Cleverly, DeGale-Groves and Haye-Chisora. Plenty of hoopla around those fights, but no hoops.
The rest, as they say, is history, which I am sure will continue to be rewritten at every convenient opportunity.
HEARN WAS ALSO quick to write off the prospect of Tyson Fury stepping up after his next fight to take on the WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder later in the year, suggesting he lacks the confidence to make such a bold move this early into his return.
Well, it is very close to happening. Tyson actually wants to fight Wilder and not just talk about it and it is a bit of an irony that the man who claimed he wouldn’t sign Tyson because of low-level opposition is now rubbishing genuine negotiations over him stepping up to the plate.
BoxNation subscription is £12 per month plus £8 registration fee for Sky TV. €15 per month plus €10 registration fee for ROI Sky TV customers. £11 per month with no registration fee for Virgin Media customers. £12 per month and no registration fee for TalkTalk, Freeview, EE, online and app (iOS, Android, Amazon) customers. No minimum term.