It wasn’t the “huge” fight in Saudi Arabia that he was trying to get over the line, but promoter Eddie Hearn nevertheless had high praise for a rival outfit’s groundbreaking deal.
On Friday it was announced that WBC titlist Tyson Fury and WBO, WBA, IBF champion Oleksandr Usyk had signed a contract to fight each other for the undisputed heavyweight championship in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, reportedly either on December 23 or sometime in January. The fight is promoted by Top Rank, Queensberry Promotions, and K2. Fury, of course, must get past former UFC champion Francis Ngannou in their 10-round "crossover" bout on Oct. 28, also in Riyadh.
The announcement of Fury-Usyk comes on the heels of scuttlebutt that another big fight that had been proposed for that region is now looking unlikely: a heavyweight bout between former titlist Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder.
Hearn, who promotes Joshua, had insisted a couple of months ago that both camps had agreed to the fight and all that remained was for the backer, Skills Challenge Entertainment, to produce a contract.
The contract, however, does not seem to have ever materialized.
Despite the setback, Hearn says he is still fielding offers from other players for that matchup.
Hearn says the Fury-Usyk announcement has spurred him to try and deliver not only Joshua-Wilder but also a high-profile UK fight between Chris Eubank Jr. and the controversial Conor Benn. He rejected the notion that he is feeling any resentment.
“It’s good for the ecosystem of boxing,” Hearn said of Fury-Usyk in an interview with iFL TV, “because the first thing I think about is, ‘Right, I’ve got to make Joshua-Wilder. I’ve got to make Benn-Eubank.’ It just keeps everything competitive and it makes other countries competitive as well, to bring big fights there.
“We need those fights,” Hearn continued. “I don’t look at it, ‘Oh, I’m gutted that they made that fight.’ I look at it and go, ‘Great, it’s going to make other countries that we’re talking to for me to say, ‘C’mon, you wanna be a player? C’mon, let’s make this fight.
“Ever since the fight was announced last night we’ve had two or three conversations with people we’re talking to saying, ‘Oh, we want to get involved now.’ It’s great, like I said, for the ecosystem of boxing. I have no envy at all. My life don’t operate like that, honestly. Maybe when I was 23, 24. I’ve always said, it (Fury-Usyk) should’ve happened by now and hopefully it does happen.”
Hearn says he hopes he can produce either Eubank-Benn or Wilder-Joshua for England, lest the country is deprived of significant box office showdowns in the near future.
“It makes me want to make Benn-Eubank in the UK a little bit more because I worry Usyk against Fury in Saudi Arabia and Benn-Eubank in Abu Dhabi and Joshua-Wilder in Qatar or Las Vegas, it’s not great for British boxing,” Hearn said. “You know what I mean? Obviously, we’re going where the money is, that’s what the fighters wants, but hopefully we can bring one of those fights to the UK. Otherwise, there’s not gonna be the massive fight in the UK we can bring.”
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.