Boxing: Predicting a rebirth for British boxing, Eddie Hearn is delighted to have given promoters 'a kick up the arse'

The boxing promoter reveals his five year plan as he talks exclusively to Declan Warrington

On Saturday, when the middleweight Darren Barker climbs through the ropes for the first time in 14 months, he does so in the knowledge that his promoter, Eddie Hearn, will to the best of his power seek to deliver the biggest and most financially rewarding fights he could hope for should he successfully defeat Kerry Hope.

It’s something Hearn has gradually built a reputation for doing since re-establishing Matchroom as a major boxing power – a process largely started in 2010 by a chance meeting – something witnessed in the careers of Carl Froch and Kell Brook, and something Hearn believes he will do on a consistent basis throughout the sport in 2013.

With considerable controversy, Sky Sports earlier this year unceremoniously ended their contracts with rival promoters Ricky Hatton and Frank Maloney to pursue what many – rather reasonably – view as a monopoly with Matchroom and Hearn which made him, alongside Frank Warren, potentially the most powerful figure on the British scene. It is understandable that there are concerns that one promoter has such freedom within the increasingly murky waters of boxing but Hearn, who has been on the fight scene since a childhood largely influenced by the boxing interests of his famous father Barry, is adamant that he will be a force for the good of the sport and that he is on the verge of inspiring its “rebirth”.

“We’ve got a two-year deal with Sky, for 20 shows a year, and I want to make that a five-year deal with 30 shows a year,” explains Hearn, who points to the significant financial losses he is certain to make from Saturday’s bill at the London Olympia as a sign of his desire to deliver excitement to the sport, not just money for Matchroom. “I want to sign the very, very best fighters. That could include current world champions, amateurs – and the Olympians.

“I think in 2013 you’re going to see the real rebirth of British boxing, because you’re going to see the big fights come together. We’re just building the foundations now to get ready for these monster shows in 2013.

“The sport was dying in my view. The most important thing people need to understand about the Sky deal is that without Matchroom, I’m not even sure there’d be boxing on Sky Sports anymore. The ratings were dying, the shows were poor.”

Regardless of an obvious confidence, Hearn knows his role in the sport is largely down to a chance meeting with Audley Harrison at a poker tournament in Las Vegas, which had a $10,000 buy in, and in which both miserably failed. The heavyweight revealed he was looking for a return to the ring, and Hearn – despite then being an insignificant figure – persuaded Harrison that taking part in Prizefighter provided a potential route to a shot at world champion David Haye, something he duly delivered.

It was then that many really became aware of Hearn, who before his time at Matchroom had been working in both sports marketing and athlete representation, but who even since then has had strokes of apparently good fortune that have allowed him to progress further.

“I think people looked at what I did for Audley, how I made that fight and how I built his journey so quickly,” says Hearn. “From there, I was getting phone calls from fighters saying ‘can you do that for me?’ From there, Darren Barker approached me, so we signed Barker.

“Then two weeks later I was at a Prizefighter and I met Kell Brook who was leaving [Frank] Warren at the time, and we sat down a couple of weeks after and signed him.

“Then Carl Froch just rang me out of the blue! He said ‘I like what you’re doing, I’d love to have a chat’. Before we knew it, in not even three months we had Brook, Barker and Froch from no stable at all.

“Whether people think I’m right or wrong, they can’t deny I’m responsible for giving the other promoters a kick up the arse.

“Things have happened along the way that have been luck and timing, and I think it was that fresh thing. The thing I always used to see is ‘breath of fresh air for boxing’, which was great to see, it encourages you. I think people just became stale and lazy – other promoters – and now I think British boxing is in a stronger place than ever. And I really feel I’m one of the biggest reasons for that.

“My old man always said that if you could get one per cent of the buzz that a fighter gets when he walks out, you’d be happy. If I only get one per cent then the feeling they must have is incredible.”

Given the past year has featured Haye fighting Dereck Chisora in front of thousands at Upton Park, Ricky Hatton’s ring return selling out before an opponent was even named, several successful Olympians and the true emergence of a man many believe to be the future of the heavyweight division, David Price, for one individual to say he is on the verge of elevating the British scene is quite a claim.

Not only is it something that has been heard from others on numerous other occasions – boxing lends itself to hyperbole on a frequent basis – it is something that simply has not really happened and that is infinitely easier to say than do. That being the case, what is it that makes Hearn so confident? Why is it he believes the timing to be so right, and what is it he feels can top what has gone before?

“I remember going to Nigel Benn v Chris Eubank, when there were 60,000 at Old Trafford,” said Hearn. “There’s not that many fights now that would do those kinds of numbers. You need to go back to creating those superfights, but a lot of it comes down to the politics of promoters, and the egos, to make it work.

“People just need to be realistic. Greed is the main thing. There is so much money involved in fights like Kell Brook v Amir Khan, that everyone should be happy. It’s a case of understanding your worth. There’s probably a sum of around £4-5m in total for that fight; there’s enough money there to make everyone happy, so get around the table and iron it out.

“I would like to be in a position in five years’ time where people think, ‘F***ing hell, look at what Eddie Hearn’s done for boxing. He got it fresh again, he got it selling out arenas, he started to get his fighters better profiles’.

“I want to deliver three or four massive outdoor shows next year: Froch against [Andre] Ward, Froch against [Mikkel] Kessler, Brook against Khan, [Tony] Bellew against [Chad] Dawson, [Carl] Frampton against [Scott] Quigg… You’ll see the real rebirth of British boxing. There’s David Price and Tyson Fury, David Haye will resurface.

“They’re the fights we’re going to push to make happen, because that’s where the mega money is. And I want to make mega money somewhere down the line. I want to create shows that I want to go to, atmospheres I want to be a part of.

“I don’t know where we’re going to be in five years’ time, but we’ve got a long-term plan. But if it’s not where I want it to be within five years, maybe I’ll step back. If I can’t make boxing what I want it to be within five years, then I don’t think I can do it.

“If I can’t convince others that boxing’s the greatest sport going, then I’ve failed.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Arts and Entertainment
Shelley Duvall stars in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining
filmCritic Kaleem Aftab picks his favourites for Halloween
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
tv
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Sport
Luke Shaw’s performance in the derby will be key to how his Manchester United side get on
footballBeating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Life and Style
Google's doodle celebrating Halloween 2014
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior IP Opportunity at Major Firm

vary Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - AN OPENING AT A VERY HIGH Q...

Nursery Manager

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes