Boxing: Hearn is hurt by turn-off: Loughran lifts world title as promoter hits anger button

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EAMONN LOUGHRAN presented the promoter, Barry Hearn, with his third World Boxing Organisation championship belt after a television blackout in Belfast on Saturday night.

It pleased Hearn, but he was angered by the late plug-pulling by ITV, which prevented most of Britain from witnessing the title success of the Ballymena battler. ITV was due to screen Loughran's challenge against the champion, Gert Bo Jacobsen, at the King's Hall, until the Dane relinquished his crown and Chicago's Lorenzo Smith was rushed across the Atlantic as a late replacement in a vacant welterweight title fight.

When Jacobsen withdrew, so did ITV, and Hearn is now threatening to let Nigel Benn- Chris Eubank III go to the open market when it comes to the television bidding. After Benn-Eubank II had attracted ITV's third-highest sporting audience of 16.5 million, Hearn felt he deserved more sympathetic treatment from his regular television paymasters.

'If they think they can come in and just pick up Benn- Eubank III they will have to think again,' he said. 'This has made a difference, they will have to go to the market place with everybody else.'

Loughran simply thrived on the 'buzz' of a live audience in the arena. At 23, the Irishman still has plenty to learn in the tough environment of world boxing, but his unanimous points success over Smith was, although somewhat one-dimensional, well-merited.