Promoter Eddie Hearn believes referee Mark Nelson made the right call by not stopping the undisputed heavyweight fight between Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury.

Usyk made history at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last Saturday as the 37-year-old won a split decision over Fury, with Usyk almost scoring a stoppage in the ninth round. 

Fury has since triggered his right for an immediate rematch.

The victory made Usyk (22-0, 14 KOs), the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis and handed Fury (34-1-1, 24 KOs), 35, the first loss of his career. Hearn, who promoted fighters on the card such as Jai Opetaia and Joe Cordina, was ringside.

“I think there are a lot of British referees on British soil that would’ve stopped that fight,” Hearn told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “He [Fury] literally covered every millimeter of that ring, staggering. I don’t mind Mark Nelson’s play right there. I do feel like he gave a lot of time to Tyson Fury. Not just in a count, but particularly afterward.”

Hearn sympathized that Nelson had to make a quick decision in a short period and it has subsequently been scrutinized. Hearn believed the magnitude of the fight allowed the boxers deserved the benefit of the doubt in an undisputed fight and that it shouldn’t be refereed the same as a four- or six-round fight.

“I think [Nelson] was right in what he did,” said Hearn.

Hearn noted that the heavyweight classic was not on his radar for being a legendary fight, as he thought the boxers would cancel each other out.

“I didn’t think the fight would be stylistically that good,” said Hearn. “Both guys have great feet, great movement, and great ring IQ. When you combine those qualities in a big fight of that magnitude, sometimes it can be a bit cagey.”