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Eddie Hearn – Then came the Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko fight and the boos were deafening

eddie hearn
In the third of a four-part exclusive series, Eddie Hearn discusses being the 'bad guy' of British boxing and how he juggles his family and work life

THE booing started after the Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko fight at Wembley in April 2017. It was loud. But after that fight? That great fight? Why did it all start there? Because of pay-per-view.

Carl Froch brought pay-per-view back in this country. I knew the only way we could bring the big fights back, the really big fights, was with pay-per-view. So when Froch beat Lucian Bute I told Sky they had to do pay-per-view. Froch beat Yusaf Mack and then he fought Mikkel Kessler in May 2013. That was when it all came back.

After that we did the two Froch-Groves fights. They were okay weren’t they? I certainly wasn’t getting booed though I’m not saying that people loved me. But then came Joshua-Klitschko and the boos were deafening.

Eddie Hearn
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I grew up with my dad getting booed. He gets up at the darts to present this amazing trophy and all you hear is, ‘Boooo!’ But it’s not like ‘C**t!’ It’s all a bit pantomime. I’m hoping mine is a bit like that too.

Now it’s just become a thing. You just have to get on with it. It doesn’t bother me now. I can’t say it bothered me on the night of Joshua-Klitschko but I do admit I was shocked. Everyone was texting me going, ‘Why are they booing you?’

I am the bad guy that runs boxing in Britain. But it could be worse, I could be the good guy that doesn’t.

It is because I’m charging extra money. I am the controller, if you like. I am the bad guy that runs boxing in Britain. But it could be worse, I could be the good guy that doesn’t. Now Joshua has made a thing of it, he encourages people to boo. People walk past me in the street. Booooo! Worth remembering that the same people are asking me for photos, too.

The landscape has changed a lot recently, with the deal with DAZN, stuff like that. I said 18 months ago that there is a massive saturation of boxing in the UK and there will be major problems. There will be casualties. We can’t go on like this. Too many pay-per-views. Too many events.

Look at the situation with Frank Warren and I. We’ll do a show one week and they’ll do one the week before, at the same venue. Or we’ll do a show on the same night as them. It’s not like we’re trying to f**k each other, it’s just the availability of the dates and the venues, that’s how it works out. There’s boxing nearly every week.

eddie hearn
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People see our success, mainly at the gate, and they say, ‘British boxing is amazing, we’ll do that.’ It’s led to too many events. We’re in the midst of an interesting time in British boxing and you’re starting to see some consolidation in terms of the events and the broadcasters. There’s not enough money coming from the broadcasters – outside of pay-per-view – to create the big events. It’s not rocket science when I say that.

It’s like when I say, ‘The only way we can do this fight is on pay-per-view’. And people say, ‘Rubbish!’ They tell me I shouldn’t be paying them so much. But they won’t fight for less. They’ll go off somewhere else, to a rival promoter or to America or whatever.

The counterargument to that is, ‘He’s being paid too much, then.’ Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. Everybody is overpaid. But good luck to the fighters.

At the moment, that is the situation. So you either pay them what everybody else is willing to pay them, or you let them go.

eddie hearn
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I’m having to make decisions now where I’m not renewing contracts. Their manager or whoever will say, ‘They’ve had this offer from so and so, can you match it?’ And I’ll say, ‘That’s a good offer. He should take it.’ I can’t keep overpaying certain fighters who do not draw and, simply, the broadcasters are not interested in. Because, where does it stop?

It’s a horrible feeling to let a fighter go. But once you’ve done it, it’s a good feeling, almost a relief. Because you don’t then have the pressure of finding their next date and in turn the pay they want. Good luck to them.

It’s all been difficult to manage, of course it has. Very, very difficult to juggle, particularly now we’re out in the US as well. And I say that from the perspective of my family.

I’ve got two daughters, one is nine, the other is six, and they’ll travel with my wife and I quite a bit.

Danny Jacobs
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The hardest thing is not so much the lack of time you have your kids, it’s the quality you can put into that time. So when I get home, my phone is going f**king non-stop. East coast is up, west coast is waking up and so on. But I’m with my kids. It’s half six and they’re going to bed in two hours.

My wife will talk to me sometimes and she’ll say, ‘Have you done the gas bill?’ I’ll look at her blankly. ‘What did I just say?’ And I have to say, ‘I don’t know’. Because my head is processing too much information. Imagine what’s going on up there. We put on 58 events a year, 10 fights on each card, prospects, champions, pay-per-view. It’s unbelievable.

My biggest weakness is I’m a terrible delegator because I like to be hands on with everything. Take the start of a big fight week. I was in the hotel, before the first media event, moving furniture around, getting everything how I wanted it to look. Every last detail is important to me. Everything is important to our business.

We have 30 or 40 staff worldwide. I’m having to learn to delegate more. If it was up for me, I’d match the four-round fights, the unification fights, I’d design the poster, the backdrop and get the tickets out. I would go to every press conference and every weigh-in.

My wife will say to me, ‘Why are you going to this weigh-in?’ I’ve stopped going to every one now, but I love it. And this is going to sound egotistical, and it’s not how I mean it, but people want my blood. People want to speak to me, whether it fighters, managers or the media. It’s impossible and it’s fractured some relationships. People will call me and say, ‘Eddie, you’re not getting back to me.’ And I’ll realise. ‘F**k, I’m so sorry.’

I need to learn to let the other guys get on with it. It’s still hard.

Sometimes I’ll see a poster go out.

‘What’s that? It’s s**t.’

‘But, Ed. You were in LA, doing this and seeing them.’

I have started to realise that I can’t do everything. The on-sale dates for tickets have been pushed back before because they’re waiting on my feedback on things.

So I know now, I have to let my staff, who are all very good at what they do, get on with certain things on their own.

THIS IS THE THIRD OF A FOUR-PART SERIES

PART I: ‘I didn’t know what the f**k I was doing!’

PART II: ‘How I persuaded Sky Sports to make me their sole promoter’

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