Eddie Hearn gives Francis Ngannou his credit for last Saturday’s fight with Tyson Fury, but says he’s still confident that Anthony Joshua would “win easy” if he were to face Ngannou.
Hearn admits that while Joshua and their team have been focused on a potential Deontay Wilder fight, he simply “can’t ignore” the money possibility in Joshua vs Ngannou, a fight that had been discussed some time back.
“AJ never really wanted to fight Ngannou, because we had that opportunity before,” Hearn told The DAZN Boxing Show. “But [Ngannou has] just beaten Tyson Fury, or in a lot of peoples minds, so you know, I don’t know.
“For me, I look at that fight — [people are like] ‘Is there any heavyweight that Francis Ngannou can’t beat?’ And I’m, like, ‘Whoa. Calm yourselves down, MMA world.’ Like, off-night, whatever it was, still an amazing performance from Francis Ngannou, but I take AJ to beat him every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
“Styles make fights. You’ve got to put the pressure on this guy. It was a weird performance. But really, I felt when the final bell went, ‘Oh my God, this debutante has just beaten the lineal world heavyweight champion.’ He should have really had his flowers that night and gotten the moment that would have been just incredible.
“But for AJ, whether it’s Ngannou next and then Wilder, or whatever it’s gonna play out, I like the Ngannou vs AJ fight. And a lot of people think it’s a 50/50 fight in this crazy world after Saturday! So fantastic! Let’s roll the dice. We think we win easy.”
More from Hearn:
On DAZN possibly making a play with PBC
“Of course (I’d be happy). ... The more boxing on the platform, the better it is for us, the better it is for you, the better it is for our fighters, the better it is for subscribers, and the addition of PBC to the platform would be a good addition. Promotional companies don’t exist without a broadcast partner. Right now, they don’t have a broadcast partner, and that’s a risk zone to the business. They’ll be out there trying to do that deal — obviously talks of Amazon, talks of DAZN, who knows what’s gonna happen?
“But I think the fighters will be keen to know what’s happening soon, because as of now they don’t have a broadcast. They have a very powerful brand, Al Haymon’s very smart, they have some good boxers. I’m sure they’ll get some kind of broadcast deal. And if it was with DAZN, it would be fantastic and it would be even more of a wrap that we’ve got on this game.”
On having conversations with PBC fighters
“Yeah, for sure. We’ve had lots of conversations with fighters who have been with PBC or have been fight-by-fight with PBC or whatever, because right now they’ve got too look at their future. I’m sure they’re being told or updated on what’s happening, but it’s difficult for PBC to run dates when they don’t have a broadcast partner.
“I’m sure that will evolve, but at the moment, I think there will be a lot of fighters that probably haven’t boxed for a while, maybe even haven’t boxed in 2023 that are saying, ‘When am I fighting?’ One of the benefits we have as a business, as a promotional company, we can put you on any time we want, anywhere in the world. I’m very thankful and grateful that we have a broadcast deal for many, many years locked in, because it’s a lonely place without one.”
On being right about Showtime in previous comments
“I said Showtime would be out of boxing, and I said that I think two years ago, three years ago, and everybody laughed at me. They definitely hung longer than I expected because they’re stubborn, and Stephen Espinoza is a competitor. And I think he’s done a good job.
“There’s a lot of people dancing in the streets that Stephen Espinoza is out of boxing and Showtime are out of boxing; I’m not one of them, because I feel like they were an important part of the boxing infrastructure and ecosystem. They’ve done a great job and they’ve had one of their best years this year, you know? But I knew three years ago, it wasn’t a sport that was working effectively for them, and they would be out of boxing, and now they are.
“It’s just a sign of, I think, an inflation of purses for certain fighters that quite frankly don’t deliver the same commercial value that their purse represents. I think that has to change in the sport, and we have to make sure we provide competitive matchups. We have to be stricter with managers and lawyers and advisers. We have to push harder for fighters across the card to be in entertaining contests, and that’s something we’re looking to do moving forward in 2024.”
On Cordina vs Vazquez
“I was there (when Vazquez fought Ray Ford), and I felt Vazquez could have well got the decision, and look at what Ray Ford has gone on to do — he’s about to fight for the world title against Khomatov, and many fancy him to be one of the top U.S. stars coming through.
“I rate Joe Cordina as the top 130 lber out there, but when O’Shaquie Foster beat Rocky Hernandez in Mexico, I spoke with him after the fight going, ‘Look, you can unify against Cordina now,’ and he went, ‘He’s got to beat Vazquez first.’ And I said, ‘Oh, do you know Vazquez?’ and he went, ‘I sparred with him. That’s a serious fight. He is one tough, tough man.’ So I’m expecting a war in Monaco. ... [Cordina’s] got to get himself up for that fight.”
On Benavidez vs Andrade
“I make Benavidez the favorite in the fight. I think up at 168 — activity is key, and Benavidez is coming off a nice run. I look back at, and I know he was at 160, but I look back at fights like Liam Williams I saw Demetrius Andrade in and he got hurt — if he’s backed up and put under pressure. The key is the rhythm and the tempo that Benavidez sets. If he lets Andrade outbox him for six rounds — Andrade is so sharp in the first three or four rounds of a fight, but if [Benavidez] can back him up, force the pressure and the work rate in the early stages of the fight, I think he’ll stop Demetrius Andrade. I do.”