■ ‘Together we can make the fights we want to watch’: The promoter on his daring bid to unite British boxing during the coronavirus crisis
You’ve laid down the gauntlet to Eddie Hearn, Matchroom and Sky Sports to work together with you and BT Sport on making fights. Why?
We’re competitors and don’t like each other, but it’s about making this work for the sport. I do feel we all keep talking, we all have our egos, but let’s get it on. We are blessed in this country with a lot of talent. We’re being genuine and coming from a good place. Let’s make it work. I don’t know how anyone can be against it.
Do you think they will go for it given the animosity between the two sides?
It has to be positive and why shouldn’t it be? They have good fighters, we have good fighters — we think ours are better and vice versa. We just want to make the fights everyone wants to see. Whether that means meeting him (Eddie Hearn) or his dad (Barry), or one of my sons meeting them, we have to put everything to one side. I’m a realist and it won’t be a love affair!
What are the fights you would like to see?
I’m a boxing fan and I’ve been doing this since I was 23. I look at fights and think ‘I’d like to see that one’. But in the end some don’t happen. Why didn’t Lennox Lewis fight Riddick Bowe? Let’s make these fights — Daniel Dubois v Dillian Whyte, Joe Joyce v Derek Chisora, Anthony Yarde v Joshua Buatsi, Liam Williams v Demetrius Andrade, Charlie Edwards v Kal Yafai, Archie Sharp v Zelfa Barrett.
How does it work in practice?
This solves the problems of the sport. Some of the fights might not suit me, or suit Hearn, but it’s making the best of the position we’re in with coronavirus still around. We need to see the best versus the best. Dubois v Whyte should be a pay-per-view fight and I know our broadcast partners BT Sport would be happy to work together to make these happen.
Why now, after years of fierce rivalry with the Hearns?
Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua have commitments elsewhere (with Deontay Wilder and Kubrat Pulev) but after that, there are some serious fights to be made. Yes, we all want to see Fury and Joshua in a ring together for all the heavyweight belts but the question is what we can do for the other good boxers out there who are crying out for big fights?
Will you be doing more behind-closed-doors shows with fans still locked out?
We’re all in no-man’s land and I wish I knew the answer. We are working on a date for Dubois v Joyce. It’s bloody frustrating. But we’ve held six behind-closed-doors shows now.