Eddie Hearn has described the worst night of his life – detailing the time that it was nearly all over before it had even begun.
The Matchroom head has been front and centre now for around a decade, promoted numerous world title fights, hosted shows in America and worked with Olympic gold medallists.
But Hearn talked in an interview with Alex Krassyuk on the Box Office YouTube channel about wanting to “retire from boxing” after promoting one particular fight.
Hearn, who is working alongside Krassyuk of K2 Promotions to promote ‘Rage On The Red Sea’ in Saudi Arabia next weekend said:
“I met Audley Harrison and we went through and won the European title and ended up fighting David Haye and from there I wanted to retire from boxing because it was the worst night of my life.”
K2 Promotions is the co-promoter of the current unified heavyweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk who – after winning every belt at cruiserweight to become undisputed before moving up to heavyweight – dethroned Anthony Joshua at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London last September.
The pair do battle in the desert on August 20, exclusively live on Sky Sports Box Office, at the Jeddah Superdome.
Hearn continued about his first rodeo which, ironically, was also broadcast on Sky’s pay-per-view arm:
“I met Audley Harrison on a poker table in Las Vegas and we were playing poker and he said: ‘Oh, you’re Matchroom! You do boxing don’t you?’ I said, not really, like, small shows.’
“He went: ‘Look could you give me a fight? I still think I’ve got a lot to offer?’”
Harrison won Olympic gold in the super-heavyweight division at the Sydney Games back in 2000 and won a plethora of things en route to his November 2010 third-round stoppage defeat at the hands of Haye.
The Matchroom promoter continued:
“Audley was a big star in the UK, he’d won Olympic gold so people knew who he was, he was six-foot-seven, huge guy and I phoned my Dad and I said: ‘I’ve just met Audley Harrison I said I think I can promote him.’”
Hearn openly admitted that he didn’t know what he was doing at the time – and even said his Dad, Barry, had warned him away from representing the man who retired with a record of 31-7 (23 KOs) after a 70-second defeat to then-future WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder at the then-Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield.
“I said to Audley: ‘I’m going to put you in Prizefighter, you’re going to win it then I’m going to get you a shot at the European title, you’re going to win it, and then we’re going to fight David Haye for the world title.
“He went ‘Okay’.
“Next thing, he went in Prizefighter and won it, he beat Michael Sprott for the European title and then I was in Las Vegas negotiating with David Haye for the world heavyweight title.
“We did it in Manchester, [it] sold out instantly, pushed the pay-per-view, which did hundreds of thousands of buys, and then on the night, Audley didn’t throw a punch.
“It was the worst fight ever. People were throwing things at me [as I was] leaving the arena and I said to myself after that night ‘I’m done in boxing’.”
But what seemed to Hearn like the end of the line for his venture into the hurt business turned out to be just the beginning.
“Afterwards, people wouldn’t stop phoning me. Fighters, managers would ask ‘Are Matchroom back in boxing? Look what you’ve done with Audley. I’ve got this guy, he’s so much better than Audley Harrison and you could do this.’
“We signed Darren Barker, Kell Brook and Carl Froch all within three weeks of that fight.”
Barker, Brook and Froch all won IBF world titles in their respective weight divisions under the guidance of Hearn, with Barker and Froch each hanging up the gloves in 2014 while Brook continued to fight until going out on a win against arch-rival Amir Khan at the AO Arena in Manchester in February.