An Interview With Eddie Hearn

An Interview With Eddie Hearn

By Will Lott

The Anthony Joshua Andy Ruiz rematch promotional train is very much underway. In the last three days, press conferences have been held in Saudi Arabia, New York and now London. An exhausting week for all involved.

Speaking to Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn at today’s press conference, he told me:

“It’s been tiring but it’s been a lot of fun. It’s good to see both guys and see them look each other in the eyes. Today was all about finishing up and getting into camp.”

Regarding Wednesday’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Hearn admitted:

“No one knew what to expect but straight away there were people chasing Joshua through the airport. There is this perception that people don’t watch sport in Saudi Arabia when in fact everyone does. AJ is a hero over there. They all watched Joshua Ruiz 1 and can’t believe they’ve landed this fight.”

Clips of children chasing Muhammad Ali in Zaire before the Rumble in the Jungle are still vivid in the minds of many fans and Hearn suggests similar scenes in December:

“You will see on fight week those kind of scenes. They’re (Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire and Thriller in Manilla in Indonesia) two more heavyweight events where the destination was controversial. But they’re both going down as probably two of the most iconic heavyweight events of all time.”

According to Hearn, the chance to stage an iconic event was what appealed to him most about Saudi Arabia:

“We can help to regenerate boxing and open a completely new market in the Middle East. They’ve started work building a 16,000 seater stadium for the event.”

What seems to have truly impressed Hearn was the money they put towards the press conference:

“I’ve never seen anything like it. They’re telling me, we want every mega fight to be here.”

Responding to criticism, Hearn said:

“Who are reporters to say a fighter can’t take the opportunity to make money they never dreamed of because of a situation where somebody didn’t like it. We know the vision, the opportunities and the potential market. We know the investment put into this event and it will be a great night.”

Over the last few years, Asia has held some huge nights including the likes of Manny Pacquiao vs Chris Algieri in Macau. According to Hearn:

“Over the last three years, we’ve had approaches from Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Saudi Arabia. Since we signed the deal, all of them have returned saying don’t do anything long term. Stage something with us. Saudi Arabia have actually committed though. They have our loyalty because they are the ones that have invested in the sport. They’ve even talked about grassroots and the academies. This is about building a legacy out there.”

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Hearn provides his insight on recent comments via social media concerning Joshua’s body language so far:

“Well in the last fight people said he had a panic attack. He’s just focussed. For the first time in a long time, he can just focus on Andy Ruiz.”

“I’ve said in the media that it was almost like a relief that he’d lost the belts. He took that the wrong way, saying it’s not. He can sit there without the belts in front of him. He can think, I’m the challenger, I’m going to take them off you.”

Describing Ruiz, Hearn said:

“Don’t take this the wrong way, he’s a simple individual. As in simple life, simple mind and that makes him dangerous. That’s why when he got dropped he didn’t sit back up on the ropes and get stopped. He went f*** this I’m going to have a tear up and he’ll do exactly the same in the next fight. We will see a more disciplined Anthony Joshua for sure. He’ll have to go through fire. You won’t be able to box off the back foot, stay disciplined behind the jab for 12 rounds against Andy Ruiz. He knows what to expect and this time he’ll be ready.”

Ruiz will have the benefit of a full training camp this time around:

“Ruiz came off a training camp last time. He’d just beat Dimitrenko which is like a statue wise carbon copy of Anthony Joshua. He was fit, he was ready and he was light. I hope he enjoys his food and comes into camp heavy and slow.”

The O2 in London recently hosted Luke Campbell’s points defeat to pound for pound great Vasyl Lomachenko last week:

“It was a huge event for British boxing. It was like a tribute to the sport. I thought Campbell did exceptionally well and is bound to be a world champion.”

With Lomachenko suggesting he’ll unify the lightweight division before dropping down in weight, Hearn expects the belts to become vacant:

“We’ve also got Devin Haney who’s got a final eliminator next week to become Lomachenko’s mandatory.”

Finally, YouTube stars KSI and Logan Paul took the spotlight in boxing this week when they’re rematch was announced as being a professional fight and promoted by Matchroom Boxing in Los Angeles:

“Since the first fight, I knew I had to do it. I didn’t want to do the first one. I laughed at it. I saw the response. I mean it was a good fight and I told them they have to respect the code and turn pro. No head guards, 10 ounce gloves and a six round fight. It will be one of the biggest fights of the year. There will be a championship fight on the undercard. If you’re going to bring in new audiences, you have to show them the quality of the sport.”

As expected, the announcement has drawn criticism from boxers as well as fans. Hearn’s response was:

“They’re headlining because they have massive fan bases. There are fighters complaining saying I’ve worked in this sport all my life. Well, you didn’t build a fan base because you weren’t good enough.”

Hearn also suggested undercard fighters will earn bigger pay days and gain more exposure from the fight.

Controversial or not, this is a fight that will certainly capture the imagination and I’m sure will whet the appetite of fight fans as we eagerly await Joshua Ruiz 2.

Photo Credit: Matchroom Boxing

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