Eddie Hearn admitted he was smarting over the fact that he will not be presiding over longtime client Devin Haney’s undisputed lightweight bout.

Haney will defend his WBC belt against IBF, WBA, WBO titlist George Kambosos in a 12-round undisputed lightweight bout June 5 at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia, Kambosos’ homeland. The bout will be promoted by Lou DiBella and Top Rank Inc. and televised by ESPN, the exclusive broadcasting partner of Top Rank. The arrangement was a surprise because Haney had long been signed to Hearn and was featured prominently on DAZN, the streaming platform with which Hearn has an extensive output deal. A key factor that played in negotiations was the fact that Haney was a free agent; his contract with Hearn and DAZN ended last summer.

“For me, personally, I’m gutted, because me and Dev always talked about, he said to me, ‘I’m gonna be your first undisputed world champion,’” Hearn told IFL TV. “‘You’ve got Katie Taylor. I’m gonna be your first undisputed male world champion that you signed and went into together.’”

In order to qualify for his part in the undisputed lightweight championship, Haney had to agree to a bevy of strict terms, including an immediate rematch in the event that he defeats Kambosos on June 5. The rematch would also take place in Australia. Should Haney (27-0, 15 KOs) defeat Kambosos (20-0, 10 KOs) again, he may be in line to face Vasiliy Lomachenko next year on ESPN Pay-Per-View.

Hearn said Haney, 27, tried his best to ensure that Hearn and DAZN would be involved in the fight. In the end, Hearn said he respects Haney’s decision and believes he made the “right move.”

“To be fair to Devin, he did everything he could to make sure it landed with us and DAZN but in the end he was about to lose the fight,” Hearn said. “He had an opportunity to have two fights to fight Kambosos for the undisputed. Obviously with the rematch clause, if he loses he has to do the fight in Australia again, which was not the offer that we made. I wanted him to do the rematch in America if he won. I think he did the right move.

“It was hard for him as well. He is a very loyal kid. I know he was uncomfortable with the whole situation but he had to take this opportunity. Had to.”

Given his close relationship with Haney, Hearn believes he will be able to work with his talented former client someday down the line when Haney’s contractual obligations with Top Rank are finished.

Hearn pointed to the example of Canelo Alvarez. After the Mexican superstar cut his ties with Golden Boy, he expressed a keen interest in working with Hearn, albeit on a fight-by-fight basis. Yet when it came time for Alvarez to fight Caleb Plant, who is aligned with rival outfit Premier Boxing Champion, for the undisputed super middleweight championship, Alvarez left Hearn to face Plant on a PBC-produced event on Showtime. After defeating Plant, Alvarez “returned” to Hearn, signing a two-fight deal that involved him fighting Dmitry Bivol earlier this month, and potentially Gennadiy Golovkin in a trilogy in the fall. There has also been talks that Hearn could promote a third fight for Alvarez in December;

Hearn foresees a similar scenario playing out with Haney.

“After these two fights we’ll sit hopefully and we’ll be working [together again],” Hearn said of Haney. “Similar really to the Canelo-Caleb Plant situation.

“Canelo would never have got that undisputed fight with me. Devin wouldn’t have got it (Kambosos fight) with me at that time, because the deal was not acceptable to Lou DiBella and Lou DiBella didn’t want to do a deal with DAZN. He wanted to do it with ESPN. I’m backing Dev 100% of the way to go and beat Kambosos in Australia.”