Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn once again sat down with Ak and Barak for The DAZN Boxing Show to discuss a variety of topics, and it was quite a lively one this week.
Some of what was discussed:
- Devin Haney’s big win in Australia, and Hearn having mixed feelings as far as not being involved with the bout
- Joe Cordina’s wicked knockout of Kenichi Ogawa
- Amanda Serrano passing on rematching Katie Taylor in Ireland (this heated up)
- Usyk vs Joshua 2 coming in August
- His beef with Leonard Ellerbe and a possible fight between the two
On Haney’s win over Kambosos
“It was sad, in a way. I spoke to Devin and Bill after and I was, like, ‘I’m so happy for you guys. Obviously I’m gutted I couldn’t share it with you, because we always talked about that moment and sharing it together.’ I know they had to do it, it would have been crazy not to do it. The kid’s loyal but at the end of the day, you’ve got to take care of yourself and your career, and he had to take that opportunity.
“He did all the things we expected him to do, really, just be too good, too awkward, too clever. It was a clinic. I know sometimes he gets mixed reviews, because some people don’t find that exciting, but anyone that knows their boxing knows that’s the art and skill of boxing. He was just much too good for George Kambosos.
“It’s amazing, really, to see Devin now as undisputed champion. It was only a few months ago people were accusing of him of being an ‘email champion’ and stuff like that. And now he’s gone out, ‘round the blind side, and won all the belts. I’m over the moon for him.”
“Like, from a business perspective and a money perspective, it doesn’t really hurt (to not promote the fight), to be honest with you. But just from a being there perspective, the sort of embracement of — I know what it meant to Devin and Bill Haney, because I shared that for a long time. We did five fights, six fights together, at a time when no one really wanted Devin Haney. We were the ones that backed him. I believed that kid was a special fighter and could win world titles and become undisputed.
“That was pleasing, in a way, that what we saw came to fruition. It would have been sweet to be there and savor it with those guys, but I consider Devin a friend and I’m very happy for him and what he’s achieved. I know how much it meant to him. He’s a boxing guy through and through, and that achievement will never be taken away from him.”
“And when I say ‘no one wanted him,’ I mean, obviously everyone knew he was a great fighter. But we were the ones that really believed in him and took him forward. Boxing politics never allowed us to finish the job, but he finished the job and I’m very proud of him.”
On the Haney vs Kambosos rematch clause
“This is a really difficult thing as a promoter, when this kind of thing happens. As much as I wanted to be involved in the first fight, I wouldn’t like to be involved in the contractual situation for the second fight. Kambosos, I don’t know the ins and outs, but it appears Kambosos has a rematch clause. He will call on the rematch. And you’ve got to pay the money as the promoter for a fight that isn’t really necessary, in all honesty. When it’s 120-108 or close to, do you want to see it again? But obviously Kambosos is going to go, ‘Yeah, absolutely!’
“If you’re Devin Haney, you don’t mind, because you’re gonna get paid more money to go and do it all over again, right? The problem comes from the promoters, the ones who have to put the money. You bank and you bet that you can attract the TV rights, which they probably already have in place. Sometimes it can be difficult.
“Right now, probably — knowing how the business works — (Bob) Arum and those kind of guys will go to Kambosos and say, ‘Look, let Haney fight Lomachenko, we’ll give you a comeback fight or some step-aside (money) or whatever you want to do, and you get the winner automatically.’ And George Kambosos will say, ‘No thank you, I want the rematch right now, back in Australia,’ and he’s got the right to do that. But that’s when it becomes tricky, when all of a sudden you’ve got to pay the money for a fight that doesn’t attract those numbers.
“I would be shocked if Devin has many more fights at 135. He’s been talking about moving to 140 a long time. If he stays with ESPN, they’ve got some big fights for him at 140 — Teofimo Lopez, maybe Josh Taylor. I think he’s in a great position and I guess he won’t be bothered about fighting a rematch. He’ll think he can do the same thing again.”
On Joe Cordina’s knockout of Kenichi Ogawa
“I was shocked at the way it unfolded. I believed Joe Cordina could win the fight. It’s not that he doesn’t carry power, it’s just that he’s not a knockout artist. But he’s a very sharp shooter and his timing his excellent. And obviously with Ogawa’s keenness and the fact that he likes to walk in and be aggressive, (Cordina) just timed it absolutely beautiful. It was Knockout of the Year. It changes his life.”
On Cordina vs Shakur Stevenson
“Shakur Stevenson for me is already a pound-for-pound great fighter. But tell me a fighter at 130 lbs that you’d give more chance of beating Shakur Stevenson right now than Joe Cordina? I know Cordina will be an underdog in the fight, but when you produce performances like that, you start saying, ‘OK, this kid is a threat to people like Shakur Stevenson.’ And the difference with Cordina is, he’s technically very good and very cute, as well, and Shakur is probably the king of that; he’s so good and so cute and so clever.
“But that’s a really, really good fight. It will probably end up at some point being for the undisputed championship at 130 lbs. ... It’s the best fight. If I said to you now, ‘Tell me the best fight at 130 lbs,’ I think you’d say Shakur Stevenson vs Joe Cordina.”
On them speaking on social media already: “It’s out of respect, because they grew up together on the amateur scene. Joe was a 2016 Olympian, just missed out in London in 2012, boxed everywhere in the world. He knows Shakur very well, they would have watched each other hundreds of times in the amateurs.”
On Katie Taylor vs Amanda Serrano rematch not happening
“Whether (the Serrano team) don’t think they can win the fight or whether they just want to get some confidence or, I don’t know, but they don’t want the rematch right now.
“We want to do that fight in front of 80,000 at Croke Park in Ireland. We reached out to their team and it was, like, there’s no number. It wasn’t even, ‘Let’s negotiate, let’s make an offer.’ It was, ‘We don’t want to do that rematch right now.’ She’s gonna go away, she’s gonna fight I think in August.”
“Katie Taylor’s desperate for the rematch. She’s got the opportunity to do a huge fight in Ireland, and we wanted Amanda Serrano, because (the first fight) was just incredible. So we spoke to Most Valuable Promotions and they just said, ‘We don’t really want to go to Ireland, it’s not the money, you could offer us X and we wouldn’t take it.’
“It was surprising, because I thought Amanda felt like she won the fight and she could beat Katie Taylor, and they’d be turning down a huge amount of money. But they don’t even want to entertain the discussions.”
A conversation between Hearn and Barak on Serrano not fighting in Ireland
[Note: Usually I don’t transcribe a full back-and-forth like this, but I thought Barak did a great job interviewing here, and it was a little heated, a good conversation.]
Barak: “If it’s another tight, close fight like it was in New York, you figure that same type of fight and maybe even if (Serrano) did a little bit better, you figure you don’t necessarily win it over there in Ireland.”
Hearn: “Maybe, but at the same time, don’t you want to be involved in the biggest global fights? You could fight in front of 80,000.”
Barak: “If you feel like you’re on an even playing field, yeah.”
Hearn: “Even playing field, yeah, but don’t forget, where’s Amanda Serrano from? We just did the fight in New York. I know there was a lot of Irish there, but it’s not Katie’s fault.”
Barak: “I’m not complaining, I’m just telling you the mindset of the fighter.”
Hearn: “The mindset of the fighter should be, ‘Yes, I will rematch in the second fight of one of the greatest fights of all time, and I will do it in front of 80,000 in the most historic night you could ever see in sport.’”
Barak: “If Devin Haney said, ‘I don’t want to go to Australia,’ I would have understood that. I do give him more credit for going to Australia, but I’m just saying that’s how fighters think—”
Hearn: “But that’s what’s wrong with boxing. Why would you understand Devin Haney saying—”
Barak: “Because there’s corruption in boxing, that’s why. And every boxer has a right to say, ‘Can we have it at a neutral place?’ You’ve done that before! You’ve said that before.”
Hearn: “Not when there’s an A-side and a B-side.”
Barak: “You’ve said that before. Come on, Eddie.”
Hearn: “Devin Haney had to go to Australia. He knew he could win every round. He went over there, he won every round, he won the titles. I get what you’re saying—”
Barak: “Amanda Serrano already fought Katie and knows it was a tough, tight fight. (Serrano) felt like she won, a lot of people felt like she won. But she’s saying, ‘OK, I don’t actually want to do that’ — if we know that this is a normal thought, why are we acting like this? Eddie, you’ve had fighters in this situation where you said, ‘You need neutral ground.’ I understand that’s your fighter, Katie Taylor, but you know that this is a thought.”
Hearn: “You’ve got a champion and a challenger. We went to New York. And yes, Serrano would be up against it (in Ireland). But she’ll get paid a lot more money than the first fight, she’ll have another chance, she’ll have neutral judges. She had Katie Taylor out on her feet in the fifth round—”
[After that, Ak jumped in, argued with Barak, and they moved on. I know these guys don’t often get a lot of respect from hardcore fans, and their show isn’t meant just for those fans, but I thought this was a great segment that actually resulted in a conversation.]
More on Serrano passing on the Taylor rematch
“We can’t create the kind of money for Amanda Serrano without doing the biggest gate possible. If we’re going to pay Amanda Serrano significantly more than the first fight, where she just lost, and she’s challenging again for the world titles, we think that’s a pretty fair spot to be in.”
“If you don’t want the money, if you don’t want the legacy, if you don’t want to create history, I understand. ... If you don’t think you can win, you don’t go. That’s the truth.”
On Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua rematch
“July 23 was obviously the proposed date, we got to a point where we’re now less than seven weeks away. We’ve got global media tours, TV rights to secure, international sponsorship deals. You’re going to see that fight in August; the 13th and 20th are proposed dates. We are literally signing the paperwork as we go in the last 24 hours. You will get an official announcement soon. The international media tour will commence June 20 or something like that. The fight is on, the fight is happening, the Middle East looks pretty much set. We’re pretty much there now.”
On a suggestion he fight Leonard Ellerbe for charity
“Charity’s nice, but you’d have to pay me. The reality is, it would be pretty embarrassing, because I can’t really fight, and he can’t fight either. ... It would be embarrassing for him if he didn’t beat me, because I’m pretty useless, really.”
“In terms of fighting him, no, listen, I don’t think it would be — I don’t know. Can he fight? I don’t know. ... I’ve lost, like, 15 kilos. So I don’t really know how the weight would work out. I’m 232 lbs, but he’s quite a short guy, right? I’ve met him once but I can’t — but he looks quite chunky! I bet I look better in shorts.”
On the beef with Ellerbe
“The whole thing is so funny. I think it’s good for boxing, really, to be honest with you. I see it very differently to how he sees it. The memes and the songs and stuff like that. And I don’t mean this disrespectfully, but my profile is much bigger than Leonard Ellerbe’s, right? But in America, he’s helping me raise my profile. When they speak for six or seven minutes on Showtime, just about me, that’s pretty big for me in America. It’s like with Jake Paul for the Taylor-Serrano fight.
“He’s helping me a lot in America, and I can help him a lot, as well. He has, like, what, 50, 60, 70 thousand followers? I have, like, 1.3 million. I know it’s not the be-all, end-all, but a lot of people know about Leonard through our beef. But he doesn’t really get that. For him it’s just high blood pressure time.
“I never really know. He keeps saying, like, ‘He knows what he did!’ And I said to him, ‘Call me or come see me if you’ve got a problem.’ But I don’t really know what I’m supposed to have done other than just talked about some of his fights and stuff like that.”