Eddie Hearn: ‘Mayweather Needs to Fight Kell Brook’


    Eddie-Hearn-pa_2679175Whenever a big fight in boxing takes place it is as if the mothership is calling the entire species back aboard to assess all progress reports. Boxers, promoters and all other characters of note from the past and present, as well as fans from the world over all intermingle with one and other in the name of boxing, this time it was for Amir Khan vs. Devon Alexander. It’s kind of beautiful. But I’m too broke to go, so I will have to be content with the video footage of journalists lucky enough to attend, and there are few more prolific outside the of Tha Boxing Voice team than Mr. Elie Seckback, who managed to get an extended interview with UK promoter Eddie Hearn in a very plush hallway. Hearn began with his brush with Floyd Mayweather.

    “I was sitting behind Floyd and had a chat with him. I just told him he needs to fight Kell Brook you know, and he laughed. He was in England recently a couple of weeks ago and we were just talking about that. I said that I just sold out eighty-thousand at Wembley for a fight, you could do that too. He said ‘I’ll do that in a minute.’ Then he said his next fight will be on May 2nd and he’ll make a hundred-and-whatever million.”

    After the verbal jousting with Floyd, Hearn began to speak very seriously about his crown jewel and what the immediate future holds for him. It was a big ask for Brook to go to California and take the title away from Shawn Porter with an efficient display of accurate punching as he did, even if there was a lot of holding going on from both sides. Many onlookers, including myself, did not think he would come out on top against the bullish Porter. Now he holds a title alongside the elite of the entire sport in Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, so it is expected that he should now go on and do some big things. Hearn himself says as much when speculating over a possible, though unlikely, fight with Mayweather.

    “You know, you have to throw Kell Brook in the mix. He’s a world champion at the weight, it’s a unification fight, he’s undefeated at 31-0; two undefeated fighters. I don’t think he’ll get it in May you know what I mean? But we’ve got plans to work with those guys and obviously make Kell a bigger name over here. Looks like he’ll defend on March 7th in the UK but it’ll be on US television as well, and then if we don’t get Khan or Mayweather then it’s a big fight in the summer and it could be over here cuz I think everyone has plans to grow Kell Brook over here. He’s in a division where the broadcasters, especially Showtime and Al Haymon and those guys are so hot, they have to have the champion of the world in their set-up.”

    Referring to Brook as the definite article when he stands beneath the demi-gods of the sport is endearing though somewhat laughable, but he is obligated to back his man so what can you say? He also slipped in Amir Khan’s name in there amongst all the Mayweather talk which would undoubtedly be his preferred option if given the choice for Brook’s next outing. Brook vs. Khan is a huge fight domestically and has ramifications on the world scene too, but beside all that, Hearn has more practical reasons in mind why the Mayweather fight just isn’t as feasible.

    “It’s not going to happen in Britain because the logistics are all wrong, it would have to be at three/four o’clock in the morning. I think Floyd quite prefers fighting in Vegas to be honest with you but it’s a huge fight, as is Brook-Khan. Mayweather- Khan is a huge fight as well you know, it’s not that big here but in the UK it’s very big fight.”

    Big fights bring big bucks, or pounds if you are on my side of the lake. In a promoter’s eyes, in any fight which his man stakes his world title the risk must match the reward. Bearing that in mind, would you put your fighter in against a man who is little known outside the orbit of the dedicated boxing fan, and who has finished eighty-per-cent of his victims inside the scheduled limit? The man of which I speak is Keith Thurman. He was booed last Saturday in a rare performance where he actually went the distance. It was a clever and disciplined display, but it seems as if the obvious discontent of those in attendance, as well as Thurman’s lack of name recognition, is giving Hearn a handy excuse to steer Brook clear of the undefeated Floridian.

    “He’s [Thurman] a talented fighter but he didn’t look great the other night, he got booed but we all know that he’s a great fighter. I just feel that fight’s not really big enough at the moment. No-one really knows Thurman in the UK other than the hardcore boxing fans. Even over here he’s not that popular and obviously he got booed the other night for seven or eight rounds, but he’s a quality fighter and he’s still young. But I think maybe in the summer Thurman could be a shot but I think not on the immediate target list.”

    You can feel his lack of enthusiasm for that match-up. Moving down the weights and on to WBA regular super-bantamweight champion Scott Quigg, another of Hearn’s main charges. Speaking of a possible unification bout with WBC champion Leo Santa Cruz, Hearn let his feelings be known on who has been the roadblock to making that fight happen.

    “Listen, we’ve wanted that fight for so long I don’t think he wanted anything to do with that fight. It’s a difficult one because I don’t want to bore people with the finances of boxing but that fight could only really happen as a main event because of the money needed to make the fight. Leo Santa Cruz at the moment seems to be a chief-support fighter, no disrespect to him because he’s boxing on huge shows. So he’s quite happy at the moment having his standard defenses and I think he’s talking about moving up to featherweight as well. But you know, he’s a quality fighter and Quigg vs. Santa Cruz is a great fight.”

    Every condemning statement Hearn makes about Santa Cruz could also be directed at Quigg. Since being awarded the WBA regular belt, Quigg fought to draw against the talented and undefeated Cuban, Yoandris Salinas in his first defense, but followed that up with three stoppage wins against vastly inferior opposition which totaled only seven rounds when all was said and done. Quigg has since got a twelve-rounder under his belt against Hidenori Otake but his opponents in general haven’t exactly been stellar, and for the life of me I can’t remember the last time he headlined a card.

    It must be frustrating for Hearn when he can’t quite make these fights happen, especially when the reasons are out of his control as he alleges when referring to Santa Cruz. Aside from fighters opting out of certain assignments, another deterrent for great fights is that of promotional alignment. In the US it is Golden Boy Promotions vs. Top Rank and in the UK it is Matchroom Sport vs. Frank Warren. These leviathans battle with each other for much higher stakes than a single fight-purse and would need far longer than twelve rounds to determine the victor. Boxing promoters deal in decades not three minute intervals. For the moment Hearn is in a privileged position of being able to deal on both sides of the American civil war, but can feel himself being compelled to choose a side the more dollars he stuffs in to his pockets.

    “I’m one of those guys that if it benefits us as a company, if it benefits our fighter, I don’t care who I work with. I’m not contracted out here to Showtime [who deal with Golden Boy Promotions] , to HBO [Top Rank], to Haymon [The Sith Lord], so I can work with everybody. That might change as we delve deeper in to the market. I’m guessing we’re going to have to probably pick sides at some point which seems to be something you have to do over here, which is a shame but that’s business you know.”

    Hearn could yet have more world champions under his banner in a couple of months time. Paul Smith is scheduled to rematch Arthur Abraham after a disputed decision between the pair where Abraham was declared the victor by a surprisingly large margin. Anthony Crolla was in line to face Richard Abril for his WBO lightweight title in late January, but the Mancunian was the subject of a serious assault that resulted in a fractured skull after confronting two men attempting to burgle his neighbors. After his return to good health hopefully he can get his shot again. Hearn also has the heavyweight hopeful Anthony Joshua. I’ve never seen the hype-train gather this much momentum this early in a fighter’s career. Behind Tyson Fury, he’s the next man the UK will pin it’s hopes on to grab the heavyweight crown. It looks like Eddie Hearn will continue to be a busy boy.