Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua demand home canvas advantage
Promoter Eddie Hearn is among the most influential and powerful men in the sport. Recently he announced a partnership with a new streaming platform, DAZN, that comes with a billion dollar investment. He is also the promoter of unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.
Earlier this week, he called in to join Mario Lopez and me on “The 3 Knockdown Rule” podcast, in which he was asked about the progress regarding a possible showdown between Joshua and WBC beltholder Deontay Wilder.
Hearn made it clear, while there were ongoing talks, that the first match-up between these heavyweight titans would have to take place in the U.K. on their turf.
“I don’t want to sound arrogant about it but Joshua has a lot of options over here,” said Hearn. “Joshua has a lot of options over here. He wants to fight Wilder next. No question that’s the fight he wants. He’s not thinking about any other fight but Deontay Wilder has also got to step into line and understand that if you come here and beat Anthony Joshua, we have absolutely no problem giving you the right for the fight in the States.
“But our feeling right now, the main man in the fight, the A-side in the fight, Anthony should get that first fight over here.”
Hearn has a point. While Wilder has played to pretty good crowds in America (his bout with Luis Ortiz had an announced crowd of just over 14,000, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn), his numbers are dwarfed by Joshua’s, who has outgrown arenas and now is featured in full-blown stadiums in Europe. Joshua-Wilder just might be the biggest boxing match ever staged in this part of the world. “We don’t get a lot of great sporting achievements in the U.K.; I’ve got to tell you but Anthony’s one of them and to stage an undisputed heavyweight world title fight in Britain is a really big deal here. Not just for the money but our country and for Anthony. I know how much it means to him,” stated Hearn.
Joshua has fought at the historic Wembley Stadium and twice at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, in his last three outings.
“90,000 for (Wladimir) Klitschko, 80,000 for (Carlos) Takam, 80,000 for (Joseph) Parker and then we’re just going to toodle off to (Las) Vegas and let the Brits get about 7,8,000 tickets at the T-Mobile (Arena)? He’s not down with that,” continued Hearn, who has been firm on his position from the very beginning.” (Joshua) wants to make sure that they can all come back. He wants the fight – he really wants the fight. I spoke to him about an hour ago; he was talking about, ‘One day this fight’s going to happen.’ I can’t wait for the press conference because he wants that; he wants the fight. He’s got the fire.”
Hearn continued, “Don’t get me wrong; he’s an ambassador. He’s a lovely guy.You can put him with kids, with grandmas, with moms, with aunts but he’s a bad man, deep down, and Deontay Wilder has got to him a little bit. He’s gotten under his skin, no question and (Joshua) wants to punish (Wilder). So we’ve got to try and make it happen but, at the moment, our feeling is that the first one should take place where we feel like we’ve built something special.”
If a fight with Wilder cannot be consummated, Joshua will end up facing one of his mandatory challengers, Alexander Povetkin, in the fall.
While Joshua has a piercing jab, Hearn has the gift of gab and he isn’t afraid to poke a little bit at his rivals. Before he left, I asked him if he actually calls Wilder’s adviser Shelly Finkel “Shirley Winkle” when he talks to him.
“It’s really bad because the thing with me is the U.S. fans are going to find out this a lot. I like to joke around; I like to wind people up. The problem is you Americans are great guys but the British sarcasm hasn’t quite transcended,” explained Hearn, who said he ran into Richard Schaefer during the rematch between Tony Bellew and David Haye and Schaefer wasn’t too amused by Hearn’s impersonation of him.
(Hearn gave a sample of it on the show and I have to say it’s actually pretty good.)
“Now with ‘Shirley,’ I don’t even mean to call him Shirley. It just comes out but everybody else is calling him Shirley Winkle as well and it’s like I phoned him up a few weeks ago and I spoke to him on the phone and said, ‘Look, Shirley’…He goes, ‘It’s Shelly!’
“‘I’m sorry; I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it,’ but I think Shirley Winkle is such a better name than ‘Shelly Finkel.’ It rolls out of the mouth.”
The complete interview with Hearn is here in this week’s edition of “The 3 Knockdown Rule” and you’ll also hear Mario’s Top 5 Tom Cruise movies.
With its new deal with UFC, it’s clear that ESPN is going all-in with combat sports…It’s interesting that the Danny Garcia-Shawn Porter fight (for the vacant WBC 147-pound title) is going to purse bid. What if a non-sham promoter happens to win it?…So Adrien Broner doesn’t want to “Earn with Hearn”?…Did you ever think a Mike D’Antoni-coached team would clamp down on defense on the Golden State Warriors the way they did on Tuesday night?…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.