In light of how two of Eddie Hearn’s fighters both lost on the same card on Saturday night – Katie Taylor and the ultra-promising Gary Cully – some critics have laid into the Matchroom boss, saying he matches his fighters too tough, too hard. But Hearn, who also saw his star heavyweight Anthony Joshua lose twice to Oleksandr Usyk, with some people telling Hearn he should have had AJ swerve Usyk, has defended the way he and all at Matchroom put their fighters in tough and dangerous fights.
Hearn, speaking on The MMA Hour, said “we’ve got to stop worrying about protecting great fighters.”
“I just think the hypocrisy of boxing is unbelievable,” Hearn said. “It’s, like, everybody moans that the fights aren’t tough enough, that the challenges aren’t big enough, and then when a fighter gets beat, it’s, like, ‘Awww! She shouldn’t really have taken that fight!’ It’s like when AJ boxed Usyk. Probably, if you want to keep him safe, if you want to avoid dangerous fights, he should have vacated the belt. If you’re in this sport for legacy, if you’re a competitor, this is just what happens. The amount of people that have said to me – and Conor [McGregor] was one of them – ‘Why’d you put Gary Cully in with that guy?’ It’s, like, he’s lost three of his last four. Yes, it’s dangerous, he’s a bit of a puncher – so what? What are you gonna do, never fight a puncher?
“And for Katie Taylor, you’re the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the sport. So, yes, she believed she could beat Chantelle Cameron. But we got an unbelievable fight. We’re lucky to have people like Katie Taylor. You win, you lose, that’s sport. We shouldn’t be afraid to lose. Now we move on. People say, straight away as always, ‘That’s the end for Irish boxing.’ Well, hang on – we’re going to do the rematch, probably in October or November. Another massive night. But if you don’t win, you don’t win! You can’t protect yourself and keep winning. Then we get criticised either way.”
Hearn has his critics, of course, yet it cannot be denied how Hearn does put his fighters in risky fights. It’s true what Hearn says, how he cannot win at times; he either puts his fighters in too soft, or he puts them in too hard. Fighters like Katie Taylor are, as Hearn says, great competitors we should all be grateful for.
Is a perfect, unbeaten record really the be all and end all in boxing? No, of course not. Again, Hearn has his critics, but he above all his rival promoters does seem to understand this. And say what else you want about Hearn, but his cards are regularly stacked and offer genuine value for money.
It’s easy to lay into a promoter when one of his fighters loses, with the critics daring to play match maker, saying how they would never have put their guy or gal in such a dumb, or dangerous fight. But without risky fights, how does any fighter achieve greatness?
Hearn doesn’t get everything right, no promoter in the sport does. But on this subject, of having his fighters take fights that see them dare to be great, he is bang on right.