Eddie Hearn says he has never known fellow promoter Bob Arum speechless or shellshocked, but all that changed on Monday night when the Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua superfight was thrown into grave doubt.
Hearn spoke to Arum shortly after the news came through that an arbitrator had ruled against Fury and in favour of Deontay Wilder over their collapsed trilogy fight in 2020.
The ruling says Fury must now fight Wilder again before September 15 unless the pair can agree a suitable extension. The whole thing puts Fury vs Joshua at risk of not happening as planned in Saudi Arabia on August 14.
Hearn, speaking on Matchroom’s YouTube channel, had just eaten dinner and put his children to bed when his chilled Monday evening took a sudden turn.
Hearn: All hell broke loose
He explained: “And then the phone started blowing up. Sometimes you hear speculation. Then Bob Arum calls me. Then all hell breaks loose. I wanted obviously to speak to them and see the situation. See what could be done, what was real, what wasn’t real, where we stand.
“Yeah it was a shock to the system. Negotiations have been going on for three or four months now and we were always assured that this wouldn’t be a problem. It’s a very strange decision from the arbitrator to say the least but that’s their business, that’s their responsibility. We have to see now where they go with it.”
Hearn said the 89-year-old Hall of Famer Arum – who co-promotes Fury with Frank Warren – was “shellshocked”.
“I think he was in complete and utter shock. I’ve never really heard him speechless,” said Hearn.
“He’s been very bullish throughout this whole process that this wouldn’t be a problem, that this wouldn’t stand in the way of an Anthony Joshua/Tyson Fury fight. And that’s quite frustrating because like I said, we’ve been working tirelessly to get this over the line.
“He was almost shellshocked I think, and then once he’d calmed down and done what he had to do, I think the move was to speak to the other side and see if there’s a resolution. Again, we can’t control that, we can’t be involved with that process. But as far as I understand it, Tyson Fury wants to fight Anthony Joshua and we have a deal to do so – August 14th in Saudi Arabia
“I spoke to our partners in Saudi Arabia, and they weren’t best pleased either, and I think the conversations are ongoing.”
Clearly there are other options for Joshua out there – notably the WBO mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk – and while Hearn remains “hopeful” the Fury fight can still happen, he says it is out of his hands.
Hearn hopeful – but no more than that
“From our point of view, we have to just get our side in order, make sure we have our own plans. And hopefully they can resolve the issue and we can move forward with the August 14th fight. But, over to them (team Fury).
“I hope it does, because like I said we’ve grafted away for four or five months to make this happen. We’ve got a fantastic deal in place for both fighters, for a legacy fight for a huge amount of money, the undisputed world championship, it’s what both guys wanted.
“Everything we were told from the get-go is that this arbitration issue wouldn’t be a problem. Obviously it is a problem now, and we have to think on our feet. We have to act accordingly but we still hope the fight can go ahead.
“But really that is completely out of our hands.”
In reality Monday’s news is a devastating for Hearn, who had worked tirelessly to get this superfight over the line during a global pandemic. The result was a record $155million (£109million) site fee from Saudi Arabia.
But now we must wait to see if the biggest British boxing history can be salvaged. Or whether it will be yet another spectacular own goal for the sport.