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Eddie Hearn talks about how Dillian Whyte could be in deep trouble, why Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua will happen - and why Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones will not.
SPORTbible caught up with the Matchroom Boxing promoter via Zoom at his Fight Camp in Brentwood, where he kept the "motherf***ers" to a minimum (just one) - but did reveal his nerves that Alexander Povetkin against Whyte is a huge risk for his heavyweight contender on 22 August.
"So confident, they've come here mob-handed, wearing the silly tracksuits they've had made especially and those flat caps," says Hearn - and for once he isn't talking about the Essex locals. He means Team Povetkin - and before we got to serious stuff like whether Hearn would fight Oscar De La Hoya - we dived into Saturday's live Sky Sports Box Office card.
How big a threat is Povetkin to Dillian Whyte?
Alexander Povetkin is one of the most dangerous men in the heavyweight division. You saw it in the Anthony Joshua fight - we had our hearts in our mouths after six rounds and it took a steam train from AJ to stop him.
That's the only way you can beat him really - to take him out. Because he won't quit, he won't stop. He's a big puncher, the way he loops those big shots over the top, he's got excellent movement. More importantly, he's here to win.
AJ is coming on Saturday, right? If this was WWE, he'd be getting in the ring with a chair and chasing after Whyte...
[Laughs] Everyone that's tested is allowed within a five-metre bubble and he hasn't been tested for this - so he's just outside with Sky, but it's literally six metres away. And there's not a lot of people to look at when you're in the ring at Fight Camp. So when Dillian wins - hopefully, fingers crossed - there's only one place to look and that's right at AJ.
These guys do respect each other - but they also have this desire to fight each other all the time. They've got an intense rivalry.
But Anthony thinks this is a really tough fight for Dillian. He's worried. He thinks Povetkin could have the experience and the style to beat him on Saturday.
All roads lead to #WhytePovetkin #FightCamp :microphone: @ring_wraps #FightCamp4 pic.twitter.com/orpm09zywa
- Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) August 21, 2020
Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua in 2021 - do we get it, yes or no?
Yes, I think we do. But the WBC wrote to us to say the winner of Whyte-Povetkin will fight the winner of Fury-Wilder - no exceptions. So unless Tyson Fury vacates that WBC belt, he will have to fight Dillian, if he wins this weekend. Joshua's got to fight [Kubrat] Pulev, but then he's got the mandatory of Oleksandr Usyk if he beats Dereck Chisora.
So we have an agreement for Joshua-Fury - everybody knows that's the biggest fight in boxing, we're all on board. But there are hurdles to get over first. And Dillian Whyte wants to put a massive spanner in the works...
With Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones delayed until November, will we actually see them in the ring for real?
No, I don't think we will. When they announced the fight first of all, it was so quick. We know the obstacles in front of you when it comes to making big fights... So they put a delay in and now I've heard things from Roy Jones saying, he's not fighting unless he's compensated because he had something else planned in November.
And actually, people don't realise the loss of the value just by postponing it. Already people are guessing: will it really happen? And if it's losing credibility, and it's an exhibition, what are we going to get?
As I've said: I'd rather it wasn't an exhibition and they just went at it, hammer and tongs. Now, ethically, that's not really right because I don't think physically those guys should be doing that. But I'd rather that than an exhibition - because what is an exhibition?
Are they going to throw a jab each, then have a nice interview at the end of the round? Because the commissioner has said they shouldn't go for a knockout - what's that about?! Can you imagine a fight and all of a sudden the ref jumps in: 'Oh, come on - try not to hurt each other guys.'
You need to clearly identify what people are buying.
Fellow promoter Oscar De La Hoya is coming back - you're looking in decent shape right now. Hearn vs De La Hoya in 2021?
The problem there is Oscar De La Hoya is a legend, one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of his generation, while I can't punch my way out of a wet paper bag. So not sure how we sell that one.
Erm, Golden Boy vs Silver Spoon?
I did have a little go as an amateur - I was useless! But I hung around with Naz [Hamed], Frank Bruno, Lennox Lewis and I thought I could fight. But rich kids can't fight mate, that's the problem. Once you get one on the chin...
Sorry, Tony Bellew is having a go at me over there [turns away]: Listen, I could've beaten you. You're about the only one. Gifted you a world title at Goodison Park - you be quiet.
He wants to kill me now... But listen, it's difficult, because who am I to tell Oscar De La Hoya that he can't come back? This is a pound-for-pound great. I think it's a publicity stunt, personally. But he's earned the right with everything that he's achieved in the ring to do what he wants. So good luck to him.
What's your favourite of your nicknames: 'Fast Car', 'Earn With Hearn' or 'Silver Spoon' - which we hear your dad Barry actually gave you...
Well, I say I turned the spoon gold. All I seem to be doing at the moment is writing my old man cheques, so he can't moan about me being 'Silver Spoon'.
'Fast Car' came out of nowhere! And Dominic Ingle wrote a song called Fast Car Eddie - so if you ever want to cringe, play that... 'Earn With Hearn' is great. When I was growing up, the tabloids would always run the 'Earn With Hearn' headline for my old man - about snooker or Steve Davis, so I guess that. And it's quite a good little advert for me to say to fighters: come on; come and earn with Hearn.
Definitely @NoContextHearn - it's a lot more amusing than the real me. But I've worked very hard to establish myself as a good businessman in my own right. Not just Barry Hearn's son - and now, I'm a meme!
So whereas I'd like people to stop me on the street and say: 'I love what you're doing for boxing.' Instead they're saying: do that one where you go, 'Chamone motherf***ers!' Or say, 'Oh go on then...'.
The guy who runs that - Andy his name is, he actually works for the NHS - when he asked me if I had a problem with him doing it, I thought: 'How big do you think this is going to be? Whatever mate...'. Next thing he's got half a million followers and they're creating a merchandise range! But if it makes people smile, I'm all for it.
What's your biggest buzz you've ever had from a live fight?
A lot of the time it's dealing with a fighter you've become close with and are almost like mates. Dare I say it, as he's still over there, but when Bellew beat Makabu at Goodison Park - unbelievable feeling.
Same as when Darren Barker beat Daniel Geale, Kell Brook beating Shawn Porter in LA, Anthony Crolla becoming world champion in Manchester. Also, the development of women's boxing and seeing Katie Taylor headline an event or fight at Madison Square Garden; AJ winning the belts back in Saudi, fantastic.
But I'm not just saying it: Fight Camp is right up there. To have this crazy idea, this concept... I'm quite proud of it because I just didn't want to go into a studio. I thought it was naff. I don't think the fighters deserve to go into a studio with no atmosphere - and when they walk out at Fight Camp, they get that big-event feel.
You mention Katie Taylor: does she have a chip on her shoulder before Saturday's rematch, because many people scored that amazing first fight for Delfine Persoon?
Well, she says not - but I don't believe her. She's the ultimate competitor. I've never seen anyone more driven than Katie Taylor - that's why I signed her. She came into my office and I had no intention of really moving into women's boxing - and after 15 minutes with her, I just thought: 'I'm signing you.'
I loved everything I heard: all she's ever wanted is to be the best. And it's always been accepted that she is the pound-for-pound best - but, last June in New York, a lot of people felt Persoon won that fight. Really close fight - but when we walked back to the changing room, she knew there were question marks. And that eats someone like Katie Taylor up.
So this weekend is about setting the record straight...
She's not looking for pats on the back. But she is looking for the credibility to say: I am the standout best - no questions.
:crown: @KatieTaylor and Delfine Persoon settle the score tomorrow night! :triumph: #TaylorPersoon2 #WhytePovetkin #FightCamp #FightCamp4 pic.twitter.com/cGZkowxmEz
- Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) August 21, 2020
But you saw at the weigh-in: we're supposed to be socially distancing, but Persoon overstepped her mark, got right up in Katie's face and nodded her head as if to say, 'From the first second of that bell tomorrow night, I am going to not stop trying to beat you.'
So, so much is on the line. And I'm very nervous for Katie Taylor - just like I'm nervous for Whyte against Povetkin - because I know how much their opponents are prepared to dig deep, go to war and are ready to win on Saturday.
Imagery: PA/Sky Sports/Matchroom Boxing
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