Matchrom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has a lot of irons in the fire right now, as do all major promoters, and one that has caught him a bit off-guard is the talk of a fight between heavyweight boxing contender Dillian Whyte and UFC contender Francis Ngannou.
Whyte and Ngannou have both talked about the idea, with Whyte (27-1, 18 KO) bringing it up in a recent chat with Hearn and Tony Bellew, saying he’d be willing to fight Ngannou in MMA. Ngannou said that he’d be willing to come to a boxing ring, which Whyte responded to by saying Ngannou would have no chance in boxing.
Because of all this, and a bit of buzz between fans of both sports, Hearn tells Sky Sports he’s going to put in a call to UFC President Dana White:
“I never really thought we would take this too seriously, but in the last week we have to take this seriously. ... I’m going to be reaching out to Dana White and saying: ‘Tell me how this works? Can we actually do this? Are we doing it in a ring? Are we doing it in a cage? Are we doing one round of each?’ It’s really got a lot of momentum and a lot of promise. I think there’s a really good chance it could happen.”
White has generally been reluctant to work with outside promoters, but he did work with Premier Boxing Champions and the Mayweather team for Mayweather-McGregor in 2017, and he’s recently had nice things to say about Eddie Hearn, saying he believes Hearn may be the guy to help bring boxing along and fix some longstanding problems.
“Eddie Hearn has some of the top guys in the world, putting on these big heavyweight fights. And I think Eddie Hearn’s doing it right,” White said on an Athletic podcast. “I think Eddie Hearn’s doing it right. I think when Eddie Hearn puts on a fight, Eddie Hearn actually makes money. A lot of these other guys aren’t making money.”
It still seems unlikely to me — Whyte’s focus, as Hearn notes, is really on winning a world title in boxing, and Ngannou’s is on the UFC heavyweight title. And the whole sports world is in such a weird state right now that a crossover event (or two?) this ambitious might be too much to ask, especially with the two combatants based in different countries (although Fight Island could host, I suppose).
But it’s out there right now, so it’s worth thinking about at least a bit.