THE life of a boxing promoter is not an easy one. Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn, who guides IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, could reel off a number of fights that were hard to get over the line, yet the most difficult deal of his career did not involve rival boxers. Instead, it involved rival broadcasters.
With Showtime being the exclusive American television partner of Joshua, and HBO having an exclusive TV agreement with Wladimir Klitschko in the USA, it was announced earlier this month that the broadcasting giants would share the Stateside rights to this Saturday’s (April 29) Wembley Stadium world title unification clash. However, it took a lot of work behind the scenes to get the agreement thrashed out.
“Without any question of a doubt, it’s the toughest deal I’ve ever had to do [agreeing the American television rights between Showtime and HBO]. It took me three months to do that deal. I was working on it every day for three months,” Hearn said. “Working with another promotional company [K2 Promotions, who represent Klitschko] is very difficult, because there are decisions that can only be made by both teams. However, for all the reputations of [Klitschko’s manager] Bernd Boente, and probably myself, I think both of us would say at the moment that it’s been a joy. Every barrier and obstacle that’s been put up has been dealt with. The US TV deal is a great example of that.”
Another problem that Hearn, as a promoter, has had to face in the past is that of mandatory contenders. With Joshua currently in possession of the IBF crown, if he were to defeat Klitschko and add the vacant WBA strap to his collection, the likelihood is that he would have to relinquish at least one of these titles.
“You’re going to get the problem of multiple mandatories coming up,” Hearn explained. “After this fight, ‘AJ’s’ mandatory with the IBF is Kubrat Pulev. At some point, probably this year, the WBA mandatory might be Luis Ortiz. I’d love ‘AJ’ to have every belt, but as Tyson Fury found out, that’s not possible. The same thing that’s going to happen to ‘AJ’ [if he beats Klitschko] is the same thing that happened to Tyson Fury, more or less. His [IBF] mandatory was due, he wouldn’t fight his mandatory, so he lost the belt. It’d be exactly the same for Anthony Joshua. There wouldn’t be any exceptions to the rule.”