Eddie Hearn admits he was ‘gutted’ to lose the purse bid for Beterbiev-Smith by just $15,000 but believes the challenger is still capable of winning by knockout on away soil.
Hearn and Matchroom bid $2,100,000 for the right to stage the clash between unified light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev and his mandatory challenger with the WBC, Callum Smith.
However he could not believe it when Top Rank, who co-promote Beterbiev along with Group Yvon Michel, trumped his bid by just $15,000, his narrowest losing margin in a major purse bid ever, which denied him the chance to claim home advantage for Smith.
Instead, he expects the fight to land in Montreal with Top Rank and Group Yvon Michel now obligated to stage it within 90 days of Tuesday’s bid.
Hearn told BoxingScene.com: “I am gutted - 15 grand. I bid $2,100,000 and they bid $2,115,000. Everyone has said they must have known what our bid was to only beat it by that much but in reality when there have been offers made throughout a period of negotiation you know roughly what the other side’s bid will be.
“Having said that, it’s very unusual to lose it by so little - I’ve never had a purse bid that close. I’ve lost by 30 or 40 grand before but never as little as 15 on a bid as high as 2.1m. And I was so close to making it 2.2. I was literally a minute from bidding that much.
“But we were bidding to probably lose money on the fight which means it’s not quite as painful as others but I was gutted because I really wanted to have Callum’s fight in Liverpool. I text Callum straight after telling him there was only 15,000 in it. He was gutted as well.”
As per the WBC rules, champion Beterbiev is entitled to 70 percent of 90 percent of the winning bid while Smith will claim 30 per cent. The remaining 10 percent, a figure of $211,500, will be on the line on the night.
Hearn added: “The problem when you’re on the small end of a purse split as the challenger you can’t stack it.
“If you promote the champion here, Beterbiev, you can say ‘right, you’re going to get $1 million and we will make sure we win the bid’. But you can’t really do the same with Callum because he’s getting 30 percent of the purse split.
“They now have to give us the date within seven days and stage the fight within 90 days otherwise it defaults to us. It looks like that fight will be in Montreal but we will wait and see.”
Beterbiev is currently 19-0 with all 19 coming inside the distance and holds the WBC, IBF and WBO belts at light-heavyweight. His last outing was an eighth round knockout of Smith’s compatriot Anthony Yarde in London which further cemented the Russian’s status as one of the most destructive punchers in the sport.
But Hearn is adamant that the timing is right for 33-year-old Smith, a former super middleweight champion, to dethrone the light heavyweight king.
“I think Callum has got a great chance,” he said. “Nobody hits harder with the left hook in that division than Smith, particularly in a catch-and-counter situation and there will be opportunities for Callum to land that shot. If he lands it on Beterbiev he will knock him clean out.
“Sooner or later these tough fights will catch up with Beterbiev, the Yarde fight was a tough fight, and he has been in others. The time is right for Smith.”