@BarryHearn Interview Part 2 by Paul Ready

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Elite Boxing:

I saw an interview with Eddie on IFLTV recently where he was answering a fan’s question regarding the possibility of Chris Eubank Jnr joining Matchroom.

Eddie made some valid points for me that up until now he hasn’t been promoted well.

 

Barry Hearn:

It is very difficult for Chris Snr as I’ve been in a situation where I’ve had to encourage my son to follow his career, he is now doing the same for his son.

I think it is a burden on the son to some extent having him in the background.

I remember the first time Eddie put on a set of gloves and I went to watch him fight and they introduced him as “Eddie something else” as he didn’t want the Hearn name.

Eubank Snr as a personality was fascinating to work with; I would not have swapped a minute of it, but he was hard work and I think the idea of someone like Eddie who has seen that appreciates it is a big bit of baggage to take on.

So the answer is he like most fathers has a high expectancy of his son, there is no doubt his son has some ability.

If i’m brutally honest that ability has yet been tested. So you are in a situation where you ask yourself (Matchroom) do you want to be involved with the boy?

Yes. If it was any other surname…

 

EB:

So if he was Chris Smith for example…

 

BH:

Correct.

You would say we could do a job, but you know the expectancy from Eubank Snr and the level of involvement will be different.

When you are running a business you can’t have that.

If the manager has enough sense to understand the boxing business, which Eubank Snr in the greatest respect doesn’t.  

I feel he is coming from it at the wrong angle; Christopher, young Christopher needs exposure, he needs a PR job done on him but that can’t involve his dad because it detracts from the PR job on his son.

Now I’m seeing Eubank Snr in the ring with his son. Which was amusing for about 15 seconds and then it became embarrassing.

Eubank Jnr may end up being a really good fighter then you would almost have him no matter what the obstacle.

At the moment I’d rather see him fight a John Ryder, a Billy Joe Saunders, a Nick Blackwell someone who can tell me how good he is.

Eubank Snr said to me the other day;

“He is the best now, he would beat Andre Ward”

Once you start saying that, it’s not good. In time maybe that caveat will be built in but at the moment it puts too much expectancy on the youngster.

He’s been matched extremely well up until now and to be discussed in the same breath as those top fighters at 160lbs & 168lbs is disrespectful.

Chris Snr needs to stop mentioning these names as it makes him look silly.

Mentioning Carl Froch, George Groves, James DeGale.

It’s a relationship where promoters need good fighters and great promoters need great fighters to make it work.

I haven’t seen enough of him (Eubank Jnr) yet to be convinced that he can punch. He could be a great domestic fighter, but if you want to go on to be a European fighter and beyond you need to be able to bang and have concussion, not enough British fighters have that.

At world-level if you can’t punch, you will get found out sooner or later.

But Chris Jnr has potential and it’s a compliment for me to say that but he needs to be his own man.

At the moment he is on BoxNation without being disrespectful to BoxNation, I think they do a fantastic job but there is no one watching it.

It’s tough enough putting them on Sky.

When I was doing shows I was getting 10 million viewers on ITV, you can build people very quickly on that platform.

Today on Sky it takes 4 times as long to build them.

 

EB:

If we take the recent Glasgow show a few weekends ago, what was the viewing figures?

 

BH:

Peaking anywhere around 400,000 – 500,000 viewers that’s a big success on Sky.

When Eddie started they were 100,000, so now they’ve double and trebled in the past couple of years so it is going the right way and there is a long way to go.

They still don’t get anywhere near the darts figures, nowhere near.

Darts world champion peaks at 1.5 million. If you got 1.5 million for a fight, people would fall over.

It’s ok because every broadcaster has a different attitude.

On ITV they were cherry-picking the odd show. Channel 5 don’t do too badly; around 1 million.

Sky is a sports broadcaster with lots of different sports that part of it is boxing.

BoxNation is a channel for the hardcore fans; which frankly there aren’t enough of them.

What you see with Froch Groves is the game being taken to a wider audience.

The Klitschko’s have done a good job of that in Germany with the big shows.

There aren’t enough great fights to go around currently so it’s not really worth the money for the TV companies for the ratings they achieve.

So you either drop boxing which would be a disaster or you build the fanbase which takes time and takes a competitive youngster like Eddie to achieve.

 

EB:

Back to yourself Barry, was there any fights that you wish you could have made but didn’t?

 

BH:

Benn v Eubank 3 was the only one that I wish I could have done but it slipped out of the net which should have never been the case.

Especially coming off the draw of the second fight, pay-per-view around the corner that was the one everyone wanted. It would have cashed in with something very serious and would have made lots and lots of money.

Froch Groves was big, this would have been as big if not even bigger in the early days of pay-per-view.

If you get 7 figures out of a broadcaster that is a lot of money for one night, it is a lot of money for ITV, huge amount of money for BBC and huge money for Sky.

The pay-per-view model gives the opportunity for everyone to make money but it costs the individual customer more.

Not to do Benn v Eubank 3 and to have to draw-a-line under it as they were both great fighters is a shame.There is a case for both of them of who was better; both such different styles, both such different personalities the perfect promotional mix.

But for one reason or another it didn’t happen which is why I was so happy we done Froch v Groves again as I don’t like unanswered questions, no one does.

The 3 greatest fights you would say you have seen in your life are Micky Ward v Arturo Gatti they were great great fights, you needed to have 3 of them.

Frazier v Ali needed to have 3.

Who knows, we may get a 3rd fight in 18 mths if Carl is still around and Groves wins a world title you can’t ever say for sure but that is what keeps the public’s interest; great personalities.

 

EB:

In terms of the Hall of Fame induction for you this must rank as your greatest accolade. Tell me how you felt when you found out and how the weekend there was.

 

BH:

It’s a huge compliment as I never expected it. I’m not just a boxing promoter I got in to it after Snooker and after Matchroom Sport was born in 1982 I’m a sports fan across a whole range of sports.

To be inducted alongside Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya and Joe Calzaghe it doesn’t get any bigger than that.

I think a lot of people didn’t know who I was alongside those legends but I was very happy to be a part of it.

I’ve been there, seen it and got the t-shirt and was told that I’d be surprised at how many people are there which I brushed off, but I was genuinely shocked when I arrived.

(Canastota, New York) A little town of 5,000 people and 30,000 descend on it and you are walking around staying in this tiny hotel with all your heroes around you.

Vito Antuofermo I always had a soft spot for and was robbed a few times, Irish Mickey Ward I sat there for half hour talking to him, it was just surreal.

Just being alongside that company was a complete one off. It’s bizarre as we all live in goldfish bowl and think we are important but that put it in to perspective.

I was walking down the street shortly after in New York and had 2 people come up to me who said;

“Excuse me, is that a Hall of Fame ring?”

In America this is like a super bowl ring.

It was a huge compliment for me and despite Eddie thinking they had they wrong name on the envelope when it arrived!

It’s given me my last one up on him (Eddie) and I wouldn’t swap it for the world.

 

**Tune in tomorrow evening for the final extract of the interview where Barry discusses the future of Matchroom Boxing**

 

@PaulReady

@EliteBoxingNet

http://www.eliteboxing.net

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