News May 2019

Eddie Hearn talks Froch-Groves rematch, Groves' "establishment" comments and much more


by @shaun_brown

In the wake of Saturday night's controversial outcome to Carl Froch vs. George Groves, promoter Eddie Hearn had to contend with allegations of the fight being fixed. Not only that but his prize asset, Froch, being booed during a live post-fight interview with Sky.

In this second part of Live Fight's in-depth interview with Hearn, the Matchroom Boxing supremo gives his view on the new public perception of the two fighters as well as whether or not Froch should've been stopped during the fight and responds to Groves' comments yesterday during a TalkSport interview.

Part One of this interview can be found here

LF: Do you think some people are now using fix allegations, Twitter etc as a way to attack you?

EH: When you’re number one, and I say that humbly you’re there to be shot down. I’m doing a lot better than a year ago when I was ‘the saviour of British boxing’. It’s all bollocks, I was never the saviour and I’m not the bad guy of British boxing now. I’m just doing a job. British boxing is in a fantastic place compared to where it was two years ago and anyone who disagrees with that is talking shit. We’ve got so many great fighters, the shows are so much better. Everyone’s trying to push the boundaries. Not just us, Frank Warren, even Mick Hennessy, everyone’s trying. I looked at a show and the card from when Kell Brook fought Rafael Jackiewicz [in 2011] at Ponds Forge in Sheffield. The chief support was Dale Miles against some Frenchman (Mihaita Mutu) over eight rounds. Next fight was Tyrone Nurse over six rounds then Kenny Anderson over four and so on. We’re on another level now. We should never take it for granted and I said that about Saturday night. That was a night, as a fight, that in ten years that will be talked about in the same way as Benn-Eubank. Of course they’ll be talking about the controversial stoppage. I’m sure there will be a rematch. As far as people giving me stick, it comes with the territory. Most of them never saw it and just get on the bandwagon on Twitter. But I’ve not had any stick from boxing fans but I’ve had stick from casuals which is ironic because they are the people we are trying to get into the sport!

LF: If a Froch-Groves rematch happens, what do you think now is the public perception of both men?

EH: People’s perception at the end of that fight is different to what it is now. And their perception will be different in a week’s time. You cannot look back at that fight and not admire Carl Froch. I mean, fine, give me stick but don’t give him stick. I mean, Jesus Christ, he’s just been in a war and he’s tried to find a way to win the fight. George Groves, people’s opinion will probably remain. He performed incredibly well. And he should’ve been given time to recover. Now, if there is a rematch I think Groves will be cheered into the ring and Froch will be booed into the ring. But isn’t that just the pantomime of boxing? Why should George be booed into the ring on Saturday? Because in the build-up he was made out to be the bad guy and he chose to do that for a reason. He thought it would give him an edge over Carl Froch and it did.

LF: Do you think there was any point during the fight that Froch could have been or should have been stopped?

CF: Absolutely not. If the punch that put Carl down in the first had landed in the eighth or ninth round I think the ref may have stopped it. Look at Froch’s eyes and body when the ref had finished his standing count. He was fine to continue. I’m not saying Groves’ should’ve been stopped either. Froch never lost his feet, stumbled or wobbled. He just did what he did. George made an interesting point in the post-fight presser. Carl Froch has the reputation of having a granite chin, of being a warrior etc. And George Groves had the reputation of being chinny. He said that himself. That probably plays a part in the referee’s mind when the shots are landing.

LF: Should it though?

EH: No. Isn’t it the same, though, when a football match is being refereed and you’ve got Luis Suarez who’s notorious for diving and he runs through and gets taken down you think he’s dived? And then boom, yellow card. I’m not saying it’s right and I’m not saying Howard Foster thought it. This is what George Groves eluded to and I thought it was an interesting point. I guess when you think a fighter is vulnerable compare to one who you don’t think is, maybe you jump in a little but sooner right or wrong.

LF: There was an interview earlier on TalkSport where Groves said he was going against the establishment, Carl Froch and Matchroom. How do you react to that?

EH: He’s gotta be careful what he says. I saw his statement as well where he talked about corruption. I don’t get where these people are coming from. I spoke to George, I spoke to his lawyers after it. I said to him, do you honestly think in your heart of hearts that’s true? What he means is he’s just the challenger. In his eyes that wouldn’t have happened to the champion and stuff like that. He thinks well he’s the champion, he’s got all the power and they’re all going to go in his favour. I disagree. I do always think that the challenger has to go and conclusively win the fight against the champion. You’re not fighting against an establishment, you’re fighting against a true great in British sport and I don’t know whether that counts for anything with the officials. You have to ask them. If Carl Froch wouldn’t have got up in round one would he have still been fighting against the ‘establishment’?

LF: Is George a free agent?

EH: Yes. He had a three-fight deal with Matchroom. We discussed before the fight that he had enough on his plate with the Adam Booth situation and what not. I’ve got a close relationship with Carl Froch, let’s have this fight and see where we go. George Groves has a great opportunity to have many, many fights on Sky Box Office. So financially we’re the best place for him and the rematch is the biggest for him. I spoke to him yesterday (Monday), I’m going to Canada tomorrow and I’ll sit down with him early next week for a chat. I’m thinking more about the rematch than signing George Groves at the moment. I’ve got a relaxed ethos about signing fighters. If you want to fight on our platform then fantastic, if you don’t then not a problem. I’d love George Groves to have a long-term future with Matchroom. Doesn’t mean he wants to do that but he’s going to want a rematch. I’m sure we’ll be working together in some capacity.

LF: What’s the updates on each fighters’ physical condition after the fight?

EH: I thought Carl might have a fracture to the jaw but he was eating wine gums after the fight. He’s a freak of nature. You look at his face and Groves’ face and it’s his that is marked up more. Froch’s doesn’t even swell. It was a very, very, very physically demanding fight and I think it might’ve come a little too soon for him [Froch]. We had the Kessler fight in May, then he had the birth of his daughter, then he did that dancing thing while he was in camp. He didn’t look as fresh as I would’ve liked him to on Saturday night. Now it’s going to be December off, probably January off and then look early summer at the next fight.

LF: And if the next fight is the rematch with Groves’ are we talking Benn-Eubank 2 levels in terms of hype, attendance etc?

EH: If this fight happens it’s one I’d like to make a play at and do something really, really big with. Wembley Stadium, Olympic Stadium, City Ground (home of the Froch supported Nottingham Forest FC). We’ve got an opportunity with this to do something really big for boxing. And not just twenty or thirty thousand in attendance, I’m talking about, pricing it right, about making it the biggest gate of all-time in British boxing. I think the interest is going to grow and grow but it’s never a done deal until I strike a deal with all parties. Groves’ is going to want a much bigger chunk than he got for the first fight. He brings a lot more to the table now.

LF: And finally, were you satisfied with the undercard or not?

EH: I had a lot of problems with it. It was probably the most testing time I had as a promoter over that week till the fight. [Martin] Gethin pulled and we got the Doctor’s letter nine days after it was dated. [Martin] Murray pulled out, Rocky Fielding’s opponent changed three times and in the end we got the possible opponent for him but unfortunately for the night he KO’d him a round in what should’ve been a 12-round classic! Rocky’s fight was 60-40. Medina was poor [against Stephen Smith]. Quigg was devastating, I know Silva was never going to be a world beater but he went in and decide to iron him out. The main event was sensational and no-one really talked about the undercard other than a dozen hardcore fans who said it wasn’t good enough. It was okay but I wasn’t over the moon with it. I was quite pleased with line-up but disappointed with how some of the fights played out but Froch-Groves made up for it and everyone got value for money.

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