EDDIE HEARN has responded to rival promoter Frank Warren’s claims that staging Amir Khan’s April 21 comeback on the same night as Carl Frampton-Nonito Donaire is “stupid” and shows a lack of respect for boxing.
In a conversation with Boxing News, Hearn strongly objected to the accusations, and the wording of the article that reported them, which concluded with a swipe at promoters for this situation occurring too frequently.
The clash means fans who watch at home will be forced to choose between the two, affecting the viewing figures for both Sky Sports, who will broadcast Khan, and BT Sport, who alongside BoxNation will showcase Frampton.
“I completely understand the fans’ disappointment because Frampton-Donaire is a good fight,” Hearn explained. “And the clash is unfortunate, it really is. But it’s not like we set out to do it on the same night. We were working on this [Khan comeback] for two to three weeks, and our understanding at that point was that Frampton was fighting on April 7.
“But what other promoters are doing isn’t at the forefront of our minds while we’re trying to get everything resolved, just as we’re not at the forefront of theirs. By the time we found out that Frampton was fighting on April 21, which was two days before we announced Khan, we were at the point of no return.
“We already had the backdrop [for press conference] printed, we had the date booked with Sky and we had booked the venue [Echo Arena in Liverpool], which is the biggest we could get for that weekend.”
Even if Hearn was in a position to change his plans, Team Khan were not, the promoter insisted.
“Look, we’ve already got events in April, [Tony]Bellew-[David] Haye is on May 5 so that left May 12. But that’s too late for Khan if you want another fight in the summer.”
Khan is eager to kick-start his career and Hearn insists Warren, who predicted Khan will fight a “stiff”, is going to be surprised when the Bolton star’s opponent is announced next week.
“I sent a list of a dozen or so names to [Khan’s trainer] Virgil Hunter last night [Thursday]. Names like Josesito Lopez, Adrian Granados, Sammy Vazquez, Antonio DeMarco and more. They want a test after two years out. Does that make me nervous? Yes it does. But it’s good news for the fans.
“I will be doing everything I can to build a night of boxing to dwarf their [BT Sport’s] viewing figures and they will be doing exactly the same.
“It’s the competition that is healthy for boxing. We all want to build the best possible events. The clashes are not healthy, admittedly, but we have to take the rough with the smooth.
“This situation is not great for anybody, it’s not great for us but it’s worse for them [Queensberry and BT Sport]. They are going to lose 80 per cent of their audience. And looking at their viewing figures, we might lose 100,000 viewers but of course I would rather have 100 per cent of the boxing audience looking at our event.
“He [Warren] will only moan about it when our shows are bigger. He knows the size of Amir Khan and that’s the reality. He wouldn’t be moaning if he was going up against one of our NxtGen shows at York Hall, or even the [Lawrence] Okolie-[Isaac] Chamberlain show at the O2.”
Surely, Boxing News suggested, there must be a way to stop clashes like this occurring in the future?
“With constant dialogue between all promoters, with constant meetings. But that’s not going to happen is it?
“What am I going to do in the middle of getting everything booked and signed? Phone up Frank [Warren]? ‘Hi Frank, have you got anything on April 21?’ ‘Yes, I’ve got Frampton.’ ‘Well, can you move it?’ ‘No.’
“We’re all in a reactionary business and if you snooze you lose, and it’s a dirty business. It always has been. People have been blocking promoters from getting venues, it has been going on for years and years.
“Look at the situation in New York on March 3. Sergey Kovalev is fighting and Deontay Wilder fights Luis Ortiz on a different bill. Was that a deliberate attempt from either side to sabotage the other? Probably not.
“This is boxing, this is going to happen.”