IMAGINE FOR A moment, you are Eddie Hearn. To be more specific, imagine you are Eddie Hearn on Monday, 15 November, 2011. Two days earlier, you sold out Manchester Evening News Arena, 22,000 punters flocking to the first all-British heavyweight title fight since Lennox Lewis stopped Frank Bruno in 1993. An estimated 223,000 households paid £14.95 to watch the bout on Sky Box Office. You are 32 years old. This was your first serious fight promotion. You willed it into existence. Created an event your own father told you was impossible. And it has made you a laughing stock.
On Monday morning, you walk into a sandwich shop and the place goes quiet. A man comes up to you. “Hearn, what the fuck was that? You owe me 15 quid!”
Less than 48 hours earlier you had a dream: to become the biggest promoter in boxing. You are young, brash, bursting with ideas and energy. You made a plan a year ago, on the poker tables of Las Vegas, and everything you envisaged has come to pass. You have taken Audley Harrison from semi-retirement to the brink of one of the most remarkable comebacks in sporting history. Defeat WBA champion David Haye, and the impossible will have become reality.
You talked up this fight for weeks. Rhapsodising on Audley Harrison to the extent even you started to believe the hype. (And once you believe something, everyone will believe it.) “Audley Harrison, this is his time! People said he’d never get an education – he got a degree. People said he was too old to turn to amateur boxing – he won gold in the Olympics. People said he’d never be a world champion – now he’ll prove you wrong once again!”
Except Harrison climbs into the ring and doesn’t throw a punch for two rounds. Haye knocks him out in the third. And suddenly it’s over: Eddie Hearn, boxing promoter, sent the same way as Audley Harrison, world champion; a year of selling and scheming wiped out in less than nine minutes. Harrison is jeered by the crowd, 22,000 voices chanting, “you’re shit, and you know you are!” As you walk the former Olympic gold medalist from the arena, people start throwing projectiles, hurling racist abuse. As you pass into the tunnel, somebody shouts your name. “HEARN!” You look up. “You’re a fucking SHIT promoter!” You hurry inside.
In the dressing room, you encourage Audley to face the press, admit he froze in the biggest fight of his life. At the press conference, Audley says he thought the stoppage was premature. You want the ground to swallow you up.
Three in the morning, you’re hurrying along a backstage corridor, keen to escape the arena and the wreckage of this horrible night. Somebody is coming towards you. Oh Jesus, it’s David Haye. The man who destroyed your promotional aspirations a few hours earlier. You’ve spent the past few weeks publicly questioning his record, doubting his chin, claiming he would soon be dethroned by an opponent who crumbled at the first assault. You brace yourself.
When you’re starting out, it’s just you against the world. No one really takes you too seriously
David Haye winks at you. “Good job,” he says. “Well done.” David Haye has earned £4.2m for one of the easiest fights of his career. You helped him earn it. One day, maybe, you’ll be able to show your face in public without being reminded of the fact.
On Tuesday, your phone rings. It’s Tony Sims, trainer of European middleweight champion Darren Barker. Would you be interested in a meeting? You hesitate – it’s been a tough weekend – but eventually assent. You sign Barker.
Two days after the Sims phone call, Terry Thompson approaches you at a Prize Fighter event. Would you be interested in signing his son, young welterweight prospect Kell Brook? “We saw what you did with Audley Harrison,” says Thompson. “Imagine what you could do with my son!” You sign Brook.
Four days after the Thompson conversation, Carl Froch calls. Carl Froch, the WBC super-middleweight world champion. The biggest star in British boxing not named David Haye. He wants you to be his new promoter. You sign Carl Froch.
Within a year you will sign an exclusive broadcast partnership with Sky Sports. Within three years you will sell out Wembley Stadium to 80,000 people. Within six years, you will sell out Wembley Stadium to 90,000 people. Within seven years you will announce boxing’s first-ever billion dollar deal with the American streaming platform DAZN – the very same month that your fighter, Tony Bellew, ends the glittering career of David Haye with a fifth round knockout (and another multi-million pound purse). The world is at your feet.
It still isn’t enough.
The greatest showman
“IT BECOMES LESS enjoyable the bigger you get,” is Eddie Hearn’s honest and somewhat wistful verdict on the promotional game. “When you’re starting out, it’s just you against the world. No one really takes you too seriously. You’re not a threat to anyone. You’re almost welcomed. When I started in boxing, the response was unbelievable: ‘Oh Eddie, you’re brilliant! Matchroom, breath of fresh air!’ Then you take over the market and they say you’re Doctor Evil.”
He tells me this on the 72nd floor of One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. The windows stretch from floor to ceiling; the elevator pops your ears. It’s a drizzly, grey sulk of a morning, and all around us Manhattan dissolves into cloud. There’s so much city your eyes struggle to process it. A game of I Spy could run into the next decade. And yes, there’s no point denying the aphrodisiacal power of such a vantage point – bring me women, bring me whisky, bring me Superman in chains – but there’s also a vague sense of detachment, like you’re gazing at the world through the eyes of a jaded God.
Now, the observant reader will have noticed our shoot includes much Eddie Hearn but little of New York. The backdrop is the Matchroom HQ in Brentwood, the country estate bought by Barry Hearn several decades ago, and Eddie’s childhood home. (Both Hearns still live nearby, although Eddie spends more time on airplanes than in his sitting room.) The World Trade Center houses both DAZN and Matchroom USA. Last year’s deal committed Matchroom to staging 16 shows across America, all of which Hearn will personally promote and attend, including the weekend’s middleweight world title fight between Gennadiy Golovkin and Sergiy Derevyanchenko. (The crowd-pleasing Golovkin edges a brutal contest.)
I first interviewed Hearn a few months earlier, at a press conference for Dave Allen vs Lucas Browne. ‘Grabbing some time with Eddie’ entailed hanging around for more than an hour as he spoke to various media outlets, including a live broadcast with Sky Sports (bear in mind, the press conference hadn’t even started). Eventually the PR thrust me in front of him, explaining I was writing a feature on Dave and I had a couple of questions.
I’d expected good copy, and I got it. Crisp, compact answers packed with soundbites and substance. He reeled off sentences as though he’d memorised them in advance. What I hadn’t expected was the emotional commitment, the sheer delight he seemed to take in talking to me about Dave Allen. The man was glowing: after three minutes, I thought we might sack off the presser and go for pints. And then I thanked him for his time, and he said something like “right” or “great”, and suddenly I no longer registered for him, he’d turned away, who’s next? The spotlight is on you, and then it’s off. It remains the most potent example of what I can only describe as charisma.
Never in one press conference have I had a note. Because it’s all from the heart. It’s all raw emotion
“I’m just passionate about what I do,” says Hearn in reference to this encounter. “It’s not like I do an interview with you, we go away, and I’m like, [his shoulders slump theatrically], ‘fucking hell!’ It’s just, like, autopilot.” He prides himself on doing every interview – whether the BBC or a tiny YouTube channel – and never taking notes to a press conference. “Never in one press conference have I had a note. Because it’s all from the heart. It’s all raw emotion. And that comes off so much better when you’re selling something. It’s that energy. And when that energy goes, that’s when it’s time to step away.”
You might be envisaging a gleaming office, a towering leather chair; in fact, we’re sitting in DAZN’s cafeteria. Today’s Hearn is a calmer presence, less palpably on, albeit still a brilliant raconteur. He doesn’t retell his memories so much as relive them. A typical Hearn anecdote will include impressions, mime (eg if somebody phones him, an invisible phone will be picked up), moments of delighted incredulity (at his own chutzpah or the madness of boxing/life), and plenty of unexpected tangents. They say that you should do what you love, and he certainly loves to talk.
Take his account of Harrison’s last-minute knockout of Michael Sprott, the win that set up the world title challenge. “I’m, like, depressed throughout this whole fight. He’s lost every round. Thirty seconds before the knockout my dad turns to me. [Does Barry voice.] ‘I know you’re gutted, but take it like a man. When the bell goes, you see if Audley’s alright, and I’ll go and congratulate Michael Sprott. Alright?’ I went to him, ‘fuck that, I ain’t getting in the ring.’ All of a sudden, bang! [Fist hits hand.] Knockout! I’m through the ropes, [adopts hysterical falsetto] ‘Audley!’ And Audley says, ‘I knew that was coming. Whether it was the first minute or the last minute, I knew that was coming.’ OK, mate. [Fond grin.] Pure fluke. One from the gods.”
After our interview, there is another interview, and a meeting with John Skipper, the executive chairman of DAZN. In the evening, Hearn will host an informal media event – food, drink, further interviews – to promote WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade. By Monday he’ll be in London for the KSI-Logan Paul press conference. By Wednesday, Chicago, for Olexander Uysk’s heavyweight debut.
Hearn is a multimillionaire. Father to two young children. He has no intention of stopping any time soon.
"You could see he had something special..."
EDDIE HEARN IS sitting in a smoke-filled room in Romford, trying to convince the voice down the phone to upgrade their double-glazing. The voice down the phone is telling him to fuck off. Eddie remains courteous, patient, and on the line.
“I’m only doing my job, Mr Davy. Can I ask about your windows?”
“I don’t want to talk about my fucking windows! Fuck off!”
“Oh – so you have double-glazing then?”
He’s 15. Still in college, although for the next two hours he’s not a student (he’s never been much of a student) but a proud and persistent representative of Weatherseal Windows, working his way through the phone book. The room is choked with his fellow salesmen, insisting the merits of Weatherseal Windows, licking the lunchtime grease from their fingers, lighting up another fag. Eddie is the youngest, and the only one to grow up in a mansion.
Mr Davy does indeed have double-glazing, now for the last time will he fuck off?
“Fantastic!” soothes Eddie. “What type have you got: aluminium, UV, PVC, wood…?”
“Well, I have to say, good choice, but – did you know that right now we can upgrade you to the more premium aluminium version? You don’t have to worry about any leakage, you don’t have to worry about the weather...”
He knows the value of a pound because his dad has earned millions of them. Barry Hearn also grew up on an estate: council, not country, Dagenham instead of Brentwood. A savvy operator blessed with the populist touch – a 2012 BBC documentary dubbed him ‘The People’s Promoter’ – Barry helped engineer the snooker boom of the 1980s, making his name and fortune in the process. The expansion into boxing proved similarly fruitful: over the 1990s, Matchroom Sports staged numerous blockbuster fights, most famously Chris Eubank’s two battles with Nigel Benn.
The bonus was £5 for every appointment, and a pound extra an hour
Barry could afford to raise his children in luxury: nice holidays, expensive Christmas presents, a private education. Yet he also expected them to graft. As a kid, Eddie would clean 15 of his dad’s shoes at 10p a pair; wash the car; sell programmes at the boxing. He might eat with a silver spoon but he’d have to polish it afterwards. Yet he loved work, he loved earning money, he loved the hustle. He even loved Weatherseal Windows.
“Our job was to get a lead. So I would run out and go, ‘Mrs Davy!’ They’d call her – ‘you spoke to my colleague, Eddie Hearn…’ Arrange an appointment. As soon as that lands, I get the bonus. The bonus was £5 for every appointment, and a pound extra an hour for that week. And I was smashing it! Every session I was coming out with £20 bonuses, which at the time was worth crazy!”
(Let it be noted that the adult Hearn’s excitement when describing his appointment bonus is no less intense than his excitement when describing Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko. For the billion-dollar boxing promoter, the joy of that extra fiver – plus a quid an hour – is still tangible 25 years on.)
The job offered a further incentive. If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere; if you can sell double-glazing down the phone, you can sell anything. “I’m a salesman. That’s what I do. Just the same as anyone else: whether you’re selling photocopiers, cars, or fights. That’s what I do. And there is no tougher school than telesales, because the rejection is on another level. You learn how to sell. Selling face to face is so easy when you’ve been selling over the phone.”
Growing up in a working class family (albeit one made good), Eddie felt more affinity with the grafters of Weatherseal than his classmates at Brentwood School. (Except for a chubby boy in the year above: Frank Lampard, who also had a famous father and a tireless work ethic.) Poor GSCEs meant he took his A-levels at Havering College. He knew nobody there. He couldn’t even play sport, because there weren’t any sports teams. After a week, his business studies class had halved in number: the rest skived outside, smoking weed. In Brentwood, such truancy would have brought down hell; here, nobody seemed to care.
One day, Eddie approached the teacher. “Can I just ask you: if you don’t turn up, what happens?” A shrug. “Nothing,” the teacher said. “I can’t do anything about it. At the end of the day, it’s up to you. You’re here to learn. If you want to get your A-levels, work with me. If you don’t, be like them.”
Eddie started going to the library on his breaks. He developed a daily routine: attend the lessons, do the work, and then visit his dad’s gym to watch the boxers. He got three A-levels. The expectation was a degree in leisure marketing, like his sister, and then join Barry in the family business. Instead he wrote to several leading sport’s agencies asking for a placement.
He found one with Richard Busby and BDS Sponsorship. His first few months involved inputting contact details into a database and making Richard Busby cups of coffee. “It was fucking mundane!” Busby, who I contact by phone, notes that coffee duty is hardly an unusual task for an intern. “You could see he had something special,” says Busby of his erstwhile barista. “Like his dad, he was a great public speaker.”
After about a year, Eddie gets promoted, and then he gets a phone call. It’s a recruitment agency headhunting for a senior position at the sports agency LEA. Is the sponsorship director available?
“Yeah, that’s me,” says the 19-year-old Eddie Hearn.
He aces the interview, lands the job and a tidy pay rise. He stays with LEA for three years: Ian Botham is one of his clients. So are several golfers, which prompts Eddie to contact Barry with a proposal: Matchroom Golf. He returns as almost the antithesis of prodigal son: the Biblical version squanders his inheritance, yet is forgiven by his father. Neither Hearn would approve.
No one really knows who you are. You’re just this kid whose blagging it
After golf comes cards: Matchroom promotes the inaugural Poker Million final to an audience of 30m, and quickly corners the TV market. “We made a fortune!” sighs Hearn. He describes the poker years, spanning the first decade of the millennium, as “the real, big growth period of Matchroom.”
At the World Series of Poker, Hearn is drawn on the same table as Audley Harrison. Matchroom is basically out of boxing: its only product is the Prizefighter series, a knockout tournament of three-round fights staged over a single evening. Hearn compares Prizefighter to 20/20 cricket due to its innovation, its popularity with the general public, and its initial rejection by the purists. (As he cheerfully notes, the former demographic is much, much bigger than the latter.)
Harrison asks for a fight; Hearn offers him a slot in Prizefighter. Lays out a plan: win the tournament, win the European title, and fight David Haye for the world championship. He phones Barry. “I’ve just met Audley Harrison.”
“Oh, fucking hell. What does he want?”
“Let’s get him in heavyweight Prizefighter. Then we’ll get him a European title fight. Then we’ll fight David Haye!” [Hearn plays his younger self not as a confident visionary but a gauche idealist, voice trembling with optimism.]
“Ed, are you fucking off your head? He is a disaster, that bloke.”
Yet Harrison draws a big crowd and big ratings. He wins Prizefighter. He dramatically stops Sprott for the European title, and Eddie runs into the ring, practically weeping from joy. “Those days are fun because it’s just you against the world. No one really knows who you are. You’re just this kid whose blagging it. It’s fun, then. Doesn’t come with the pressures and responsibilities and aggravation now. I weren’t a threat.’”
He quickly becomes one. By the start of 2012, Eddie Hearn has a stable of established names and rising talent. Having a stable is nice. He wants an empire.
From Weatherseal to Wembley
THERE’S A QUOTE from American Beauty: “In order to be successful, one must project an image of success at all times.” It’s delivered by the self-proclaimed king of real estate Buddy Kane, the smooth antithesis of Kevin Spacey’s failing protagonist. So spend a month eating Pot Noodles if the savings buy a tailored suit; hire a Bentley to drive to the job interview. And stage your fight nights in packed stadiums rather than half-empty halls.
“If you’re trying to give the perception that something is big and cool and sexy, that it’s a major event, you can’t do it in – with all due respect – Huddersfield Leisure Centre with 400 people. As a viewer, you turn it on, think, ‘this is shit’, and turn it straight over. You have to give the perception that it’s a big fight. Perception is key.”
Take Kell Brook’s 2012 dust-up with Matthew Hatton. Hearn branded the fight ‘The War Of The Roses’ (Brook hails from Sheffield, Hatton Manchester), and sold out Sheffield Arena. The show did record numbers on Sky Sports. Time for phase two.
At the time, Matchroom shared the Sky platform with rival promoters Frank Warren, Ricky Hatton, and Kellie Maloney. Hearn told Sky to ditch the others, and give its whole budget to Matchroom. He’d made this demand a year earlier, and Sky laughed him from the room. Six months after Brook-Hatton, the network signed an exclusive deal with Matchroom. Barely 33, Hearn had achieved domestic domination. It would never be
quite as much fun again.
In 2014, Matchroom staged the biggest fight in British boxing history (pt 1). The first meeting between Carl Froch and George Groves had ended in a controversial stoppage win for the champion. A rematch was inevitable. Where to hold it?
As a promoter, you don’t really get the chance to take it all in
Sensing his son’s excitement, Barry preached caution: “It’s not as big as you think it is.”
“Dad,” said Eddie, “it’s fucking huge.” By 2014, Twitter allowed an unprecedented insight into the boxing hivemind, and the hivemind was buzzing. This fight needed a stadium. Eddie went to the biggest of the lot.
“I’m gonna do it at Wembley,” he told Barry.
“No. The stadium.”
“How many does that hold?”
“It won’t do 40.”
It sold out on the first day. “The first day!” (As with his Weatherseal bonus, his satisfaction at the sales remains undimmed.) Froch-Groves II was the night that boxing planted its banner upon the grass of Britain’s national stadium and bellowed that it was back, baby! For Eddie Hearn, business had overtaken pleasure. His perfectionism – “I’m a massive self critic” – didn’t kill his love for the sport, but the early thrill had diminished. “As a promoter, you don’t really get the chance to take it all in. At no point, really, do you stop and look around and go, ‘look at this, guys!’ Which is a bit sad. That’s why I’m never really content with my shows.”
No controversy in the sequel: Froch knocked out Groves in the eighth. On the undercard, the young heavyweight Anthony Joshua took 83 seconds to notch his sixth professional victory. In the post-fight interview, Hearn claimed that “in two or
three years time, Anthony could be headlining here himself.”
On 30 April, 2017, Joshua knocked out Wladimir Klitschko to the roar of 90,000 fans. Froch-Groves II kept its crown as the biggest fight in British boxing history™ for two years and 11 months.
The world is not enough
In 2011, Hearn paid a visit to Sheffield’s Institute of Sport. He was talking to Rob McCracken, coach of Carl Froch and performance director of GB Boxing, when he heard the rhythmic creaking of a heavy bag. He turned round to see a rangy young giant thumping away. “That’s Anthony Joshua,” said McCracken. “He can fight, he can.”
Fuck me, thought Hearn, he’ll be one to get. Hopefully, he won’t do much in the Olympics; otherwise one of the big boys will sign him.
Joshua won gold. Sizing up his options, “Listen,” Hearn told Joshua. “This is 100% the place for you, but you need to go out and meet everybody. Meet every promoter. Study every deal. Then come back to me, and we’ll talk.”
“I appreciate that,” said Joshua. “Thank you.”
Was this a sales tactic? “Little bit. Little bit. But I knew that if our relationship was going to be solid, we had to be comfortable – give him that space and that ability to make his own decision. When I hadn’t heard from him for four or five months, I thought, ‘oh shit, that was the worst idea ever.’ Then he phoned up and said, I want to come back and see you.”
Signing Joshua was a coup; how much of one wouldn’t be apparent until his sensational knockout of Klitschko. Hearn’s assertion the fight “will be etched in history forever” is not hyperbolic. When did the magnitude of the event sink in? “Not yet. Not yet. It’s the self-criticism, you know? How do you make that bigger? Where’s the next big night coming from? When’s the next one? It’s like a drug. When’s the next one?”
For Joshua, the next one will be a quest to avenge the last one. Nobody gave Andy Ruiz Jr a prayer when the cheery Mexican was drafted in as a late opponent for Joshua’s much-publicised US debut. Ruiz obligingly went down in the third. Less obligingly, he got back up and floored Joshua four times before the fight was waved off in the seventh. The rematch takes place this December in Saudia Arabia.
Hearn believes Ruiz-Joshua II will eclipse Klitschko at Wembley “as a global moment.” He claims to be excited by the logistical challenge of Matchroom’s Middle East debut, nervous about the fight itself; although he insists “hand on heart, I couldn’t give a fuck” about the business ramifications of another AJ defeat. The empire can withstand the fall of its Achilles.
Nothing’s going to be terrible for us. What’s the worst thing that could happen? AJ’s not heavyweight world champion
“Nothing’s going to be terrible for us. What’s the worst thing that could happen? AJ’s not heavyweight world champion. We have a great business. I’m talking about Anthony Joshua: that’s who I’m nervous for. Not because I’m worried about him getting hurt, although I know that can happen in boxing, but because I know how much he wants to win, and what it means to him. He has become a very good friend over the years.”
Joshua’s ill-starred American invasion was initially planned as another Wembley defence. (‘Boxing’s Staying Home!’ crowed the posters.) Only no opponent could be found for the proposed April date, and so the biggest individual draw in British sporting history lost his titles across the Atlantic, and must travel to the desert to regain them.
But then globalisation was always the plan. As well as Saudia Arabia, and of course America, Matchroom has staged shows in Italy and Monte Carlo, and will soon move into Spain and Germany. “For me, that’s winning,” says Hearn. “That’s global expansion into different markets. And that’s something well beyond even what my dad ever envisaged.”
Thus perhaps the two traits that most define Eddie Hearn. Firstly, “the unhealthy obsession with winning” that sends him zigzagging around the globe, embracing all conflict whether it be media criticism, fan dissatisfaction, or machinations of rival promoters. ‘YOU CAN NOT BEAT ME, ITS [sic] F****** IMPOSSIBLE’ ran the titular quote from a recent IFL interview; ‘END MY EMPIRE - ******* DO IT - I DARE YOU!’ was another. Winning is everything, and you can’t win if there’s nobody to beat. Yet his ultimate struggle is against his own father.
Their relationship surfaces throughout our interview. At one point, Eddie speaks of his “desire to outperform him”; later he says, “I feel like I’ve got the obligation now to finish what he started.” He mentions the jealousy that he feels when walking around Barry’s country estate, and the old man voices his disbelief at the life he created for himself. “My one regret is that I can’t feel like that. I never got the opportunity to build it from nothing. I got the opportunity to take it to unseen levels – but I had a headstart.”
Only when Eddie is satisfied that Barry’s legacy is both secure and surpassed will he finally say, ‘enough.’ When will that be? I doubt even he knows.
Hearn: in context
Something funny happened to Eddie Hearn last September: he became a meme. In order to understand how, we need to briefly spotlight IFL TV. Since launching in 2010, the YouTube channel – ‘the number one online source for boxing’ – has uploaded more than 23,000 videos – and 22,000 must be Eddie Hearn interviews. (This is only just an exaggeration.) The channel and promoter have long enjoyed a symbiotic relationship: Hearn providing the content, IFL the platform. Then No Context Hearn happened.
For the unaware (hi, Dad), No Context Hearn is a Twitter account that posts brief clips of Eddie Hearn saying things without any context. (Its likely inspiration is Out Of Context Chris Eubank.) So No Context Hearn will tweet a clip of Eddie Hearn exclaiming, “Oh, go on then!” and users will add comments such as ‘My mate: fancy a cheeky pint? Me…’ or ‘Rebakah Vardy when the Sun asks for dirt on Coleen’. Many of the clips rack up millions of views (‘Oh, go on then!’ has 20m at the time of writing), and the account has gained 250,000 followers in less than two months.
Unsurprisingly, Hearn has embraced the craze. Rather than insults, people are now more likely to greet him with delighted cries of “you’re the bloke off No Context Hearn!” The account has become more famous than the man. “It’s like they’re two people,” he recently told SecondsOut. “Which is funny, because Eddie Hearn is really unpopular, and No Context Hearn is a legend.” He shows me a Twitter DM sent by No Context Hearn, thanking him for the classic one liners over the years, telling him that he’s put a smile on the face of millions of people.
Of course the success of No Context Hearn is founded on its subject having spent the last decade in front of a camera. There is a certain irony to real-life Hearn finally achieving widespread popularity due to the ubiquity that made him unpopular in the first place.
The week following the Golovkin fight is an eventful one for Eddie Hearn. Monday’s press conference is a predictably chaotic affair – Hearn labels it “a circus” – as, in front of a screaming audience of teenagers, Logan Paul tells KSI, “I might kill you. I might end you.” Crass words, but the YouTuber is merely parroting the violent threats of multiple boxers through the ages, and if it’s courtesy you seek then you’re in the wrong place.
On Tuesday, Olexander Usyk’s opponent fails a drugs test. On Wednesday, Hearn lands in Chicago and announces veteren heavyweight Chazz Witherspoon as the replacement. Social media is underwhelmed but the show is salvaged, and Usyk wins in seven.
On the undercard, a 27-year-old boxer named Patrick Day suffers a brutal tenth-round knockout. He is rushed to hospital, falls into a coma, and dies four days later. The tributes that flow from the boxing community speak of an inspirational figure whose charm and positivity brightened every room.
“It’s heartbreaking,” a visibly emotional Hearn tells IFL. He only met Day for the first time on the week of the fight, but speaking on the tragedy moves the promoter to tears.
“I saw a heartbreaking interview that he gave. He was talking about positivity, he was talking about making the most of your life, he was talking about doing what you loved to do. And he loved boxing. He loved boxing.”
Eddie Hearn loves boxing, as do all of those who dedicate their lives to it, be they fighter, manager or fan. It is a wonderful, terrible sport. One that can offer a ladder from poverty to stardom, or simply a path out of a bad place and into a better one; a sport that instils the values of hard work, community, and unearthing the best of yourself. A sport in which a juvenile delinquent can become a national hero; in which a splendid young man can inspire his community, chase his dream, and climb through the ropes one night and never come out again.
Get tickets for Callum Smith vs John Ryder: The Homecoming. November 23 2019. The M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool