Matchroom Boxing chief Eddie Hearn has seen a thing or two during his time as a fight promoter but holding a major event in the midst of a global pandemic isn’t one of them.
Hearn has postponed numerous upcoming fights due to the worsening coronavirus pandemic which has decimated the worldwide sporting calendar — with one notable exception. UFC 249, it was announced yesterday, will proceed (somewhat) as planned but with Justin Gaethje replacing Khabib Nurmagomedov against Tony Ferguson in headliner and with a location not yet confirmed but, according to Dana White, it will be “somewhere on planet earth”.
Hearn, though, isn’t particularly a fan of White’s ‘the show must go on’ maxim and says that plans to proceed with the event — and numerous ones following it — is in bad taste given the current public health crisis.
“It’s unbelievable, I’d like to think that in boxing, there’s no-one more roll your sleeves up and get on with it than me,” Hearn told Express Sport of the UFC’s plan to stage an event next weekend.
“But even I wouldn’t consider staging an event right now. I’m not even thinking about options, not even on the radar. This is stubbornness. These are many of the things that make him successful but at some point you have to sit back and say ‘white flag’. I’m quite surprised ESPN are going ahead with this, obviously they want ratings and money. But with Sky Sports and DAZN, I would not be allowed to stage events right now. It’s bad taste to be quite honest.
“He wants to be a trailblazer, people have told him he can’t do it,” Hearn continued. “But I know the feeling of being told something and you do it anyway. Half of me admires him for cracking on but the other half says ‘come on don’t be mad’.”
Hearn, who, along with Bob Arum, announced the postponement of the upcoming world heavyweight title fight between Anthony Joshua and Kubrat Pulev says that his Matchroom Boxing empire is so far largely unaffected by the pandemic.
“It hasn’t really affected our business too much,” he said. “Financially we’re okay, other than some initial costs which we couldn’t get back. We’ve built up a decent business over the last eight years, we’re in a strong position with good liquidity.”