What a treat Saturday night is on terrestrial television. Thanks to Hennessy Sports, the British public will be able to witness an all-out war on Channel 5 for the British middleweight title between Nick Blackwell and Chris Eubank Jr. Hughie Fury also promises prior entertainment, with a great chance to showcase his talents as main support against the veteran Dominick Guinn.
Ahead of the weekend’s action, Mick Hennessy sat down with BNTV to talk about everything from Chris Eubank’s mind games to Hughie Fury turning both Anthony Joshua and Charles Martin inside-out in the same evening – but we’ll get to that later.
First, to the main event. What a delight it should be. Eubank’s all-action style should blend perfectly with Blackwell’s non-stop engine and unwillingness to take a backward step at times. Throw in a heated press conference or two, and things could just get tasty. Mick was quick to stress that in spite of Chris Eubank Jr. saying it would be an easy night’s work at today’s conference, Blackwell had been chosen because the Eubanks want to forge a hard path to the top.
“I think team Eubank realise that [they’re in for a fight],” he said. “They play mind games. They’re very good at what they do. They’re boxing people through and through, and they know what’s in front of them. But I honestly believe – knowing Senior and Junior – that they don’t opt for the easy route.
They’re at this level, doing it the hardest way possible. I know Chris Eubank’s mentality, and he wants Chris Eubank Jr. to become an absolute superstar in the sport. You don’t become a superstar in this sport if you take the easy option.”
One individual tarnished with that ‘easy option’ brush is the IBF welterweight champion, Kell Brook. Injuries have prevented the Sheffield-based fighter from putting his strap on the line against any real quality names, with below-par mandatory defences becoming the ever-unpopular theme of his reign as champion. He will be defending his IBF strap live on Sky Sports against Kevin Bizier on the same night as Blackwell vs. Eubank, though Hennessy believes the two don’t even compare – insisting world titles carry little value when it comes down to entertaining the fans.
“It’s in a different league fight-wise [to Brook vs. Bizier]. That’s one of the reasons I said ‘Don’t follow the tag just because someone’s got a world title.’ It doesn’t get any better than this fight. This could be for unified world titles – it doesn’t matter. This fight is great – I’ve never been so convinced in my life!
“You do worry about a stinker taking place in this promotional business, but this one here… Wow! What a fight. I don’t want to be stressed out on the night with what’s going on in the arena. I want to try and live in the moment and watch this fight because I’m proud of it. I’ve been involved in title fights around the world, but it’s fights like this – with a British title on the line – they are THE fights.”
Blackwell vs. Eubank will be the second bout of note to be shown on terrestrial television this year, with David Haye vs. Mark De Mori averaging 1.3 million viewers on Dave during their somewhat brief heavyweight clash in January. Audiences peaked at 3 million on that particular evening, and Mick Hennessy believes Channel 5 could be looking at similar figures – if they grasp the magnitude of the fight at hand. He told us:
“If Channel 5 get behind this fight properly, this will do whatever viewing figures they want it to do. What you can’t do is just sit there and not let people know it’s on and expect big numbers. For example, 2011 – Tyson Fury vs. Dereck Chisora for the British title. Both unbeaten, both in the mid-stages of their career. It produced 3.2 million on Channel 5. That was done when there was a lot of passion at the network, and a lot of cross-promotion.
“This fight here is similar. We knew Tyson was going to dish out a boxing lesson back then, whereas this fight here has got more explosive ingredients to it. It can be a fight of the year, even a fight of the decade. If they get behind it properly, it should match that – at least 3.2 million. If they really get behind it, it’ll do more than that. It’s one thing getting it on terrestrial TV, but that terrestrial TV company has got to be behind the fight. Do they realise what they’ve got here fight wise? I don’t know.”
As previously mentioned, heavyweight sensation Hughie Fury will also be featuring on the card. Hughie – the cousin of Tyson – was due to face the Dominican Nagy Aguilera, before he pulled out at the last minute due to injury. The setback was hardly unexpected, given Fury is currently one of the most avoided young fighters on the planet. As fate would have it, Dominick Guinn was more than ready to step in. Negotiations had previously reached an advanced stage with the American, so tying up the loose ends proved no hard slog.
One could argue that Guinn will be a better test for Hughie, given the fact he has shared a ring with the likes of Tony Thompson, James Toney, Kubrat Pulev and Eddie Chambers – none of which managed to stop him. The American’s contribution to today’s proceedings was short and sweet, telling gathered media he was going to knock Hughie Fury ‘the f**k out.’ Fair enough.
Mick Hennessy talks of both Hughie and Tyson like they’re his blood. He’ll back them through thick and thin, and he genuinely believes they’re going to rule the heavyweight scene for some time. The kind of loyalty they’ve shown each other over the years is admirable, and in spite of frequent criticism from external sources, they’re here for the long stay. Tyson is now the man to beat in world boxing, and Hughie doesn’t seem to be too far behind. Mick is treating him as such and believes the confidence the team all have in their abilities will stand Hughie in good stead for the future.
“We want to keep him busy basically, but we want to put young Hughie where he’s going to be appreciated as well. It’s hard sometimes with broadcasters because they just don’t get it. They like to bet on a fighter when the race is won. I’m going to be blunt here… Some of the s**t we get from broadcasters about our fighters, people acting like gurus – people that shouldn’t be commenting. People are out there with track records of building fighters from scratch and bringing them through, and we get bad stick for everyone.
“We got bad stick for Froch all the way through as well. Let’s not forget that! We weren’t going to do this; we weren’t going to do that. He was this; he was that. Let’s face it; I’ve had it all the way through. At some point, the penny has got to drop with people. Good job we’ve got confidence in our abilities – that’s all I can say.”
If you’ve still got any doubt in your mind about just how highly rated Hughie is by his team, cite this. Mick (without the slightest inkling of a doubt) told me the 21-year-old would beat both Anthony Joshua and Charles Martin in the same night ahead of their IBF showdown next month. He rounded off our interview by saying:
“He [Hughie] is capable of beating both of them – no question. Hughie Fury is that talented; he could turn both of those fighters inside out on the same night. The better the fighter he’s in with, the better you’ll see Hughie Fury. I’m sure you’ll see a masterclass on Saturday, but until he goes up to world level, you won’t see the best out of him.
“When he does, you’ll see something really special, because he is a master boxer. He’s got great timing, great range, great footwork, and when fighters are really coming to fight, that’s when he’ll start pinging them because his range is so great. Right now, he’s capable of beating Joshua and Martin. I would back him to beat both of them right now if he fought them.”
Now that’s a statement. You can catch Hughie Fury in action as part of a packed Nick Blackwell vs. Chris Eubank Jr. card on Channel 5 this Saturday. Tickets for the show at the SSE Arena, Wembley are still available to purchase from http://www.axs.com/events/307255/blackwell-vs-eubank-jr-tickets.