Following a lively night at York Hall for the JD NXTGEN show, Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn spoke with BNTV about everything from Bellew’s surgery to Bramall Lane. Many of British boxing’s biggest names were ringside to watch a prospect-fuelled bill, including road-warrior James DeGale – whom would appear to be targeting a homecoming after a sequence of fights abroad – and Dillian Whyte. Whyte told BNTV he’ll be back in action on May 27 – a statement which Hearn confirmed. He said:
“We want a top 15 guy – that’s who I want Dillian Whyte to fight. A top 15 guy from one of the ranking bodies. He wants a tall guy, and he wants to prepare himself for a world title shot. He’s after the Bellew fight, but I don’t necessarily think Bellew’s looking at him too closely as an option. I think it’s onwards and upwards for Dillian Whyte though. He’s a contender, and I think he’s going to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world. It looks like he’ll be on the Brook Spence card.”
The Brook-Spence card Hearn spoke of will take place on May 27 at Bramall Lane, with official confirmation coming next week. Issues with the local council appear to have been ironed out – paving the way for Brook to defend his IBF strap at the home of his beloved Blades.
Another Matchroom fighter that remains firmly in the limelight is previously-mentioned Tony Bellew. The WBC cruiserweight champion stopped David Haye in the 11th round after the Bermondsey man suffered a freak Achilles injury – though it has since been revealed that Bellew himself suffered a fractured hand during the fight. Regardless of injuries or what could have been, Bellew – in spite of being a cruiserweight – is now one of the most sought-after men in the heavyweight division. Hearn offered his assessment of the condition of both men, and what will happen moving forward.
“Bellew went to see a very-well respected hand surgeon,” He told us. “It looks like he’s fractured his hand. They’re just hoping there’s no capsule damage. In three weeks’ time, he’s allowed to tap the bag. If it’s hurting, they’re going to have to open it up and see what the damage is. If that’s the case, he’ll be out for five months. If not, he’ll be out for three months. It wouldn’t matter anyway, because he’s not going to box until October or December. We’re just looking at various options at the moment. He’s going on holiday, having a great time and just enjoying himself.
“Looking at Haye, the only fight for him is the Bellew rematch, and if he can’t get that, I think he should retire. I’ve heard him come back and say ‘I will be heavyweight champion’, but he’s got a long way to come back. His next fight isn’t going to be for a heavyweight world title. Until he puts the Bellew fight behind him, it’s hard to move forward. There are unanswered questions there because of the injury. But, we said in the build-up, take Haye past six rounds, and watch him gas. I can’t tell you I expected his Achilles to go, but I did say his body may break down – and it did! So it did sort of go to plan, just not exactly how we thought it would.”
It’s all systems go for Hearn, with five televised shows scheduled for the next eight weeks. He now has the job of finalising undercards for each respective bill, and as he told us, matching his fighters isn’t always a cake-walk. Luis Ortiz has pretty much gone missing since labouring his way to a victory over Dave Allen, though he could feature soon if an appropriate opponent can be found.
“I’m working on it,” He said. “He’s in a bit of a difficult position really, because he’s mandatory for the WBA. He’s up there with all of the other governing bodies, so what sort of fight do you have? We’re working on his fight. He may fight on the AJ card, but we’ll see what happens. It’s a tough situation.”
BNTV will be catching up with Hearn once again next week, with his views on both Crolla-Linares and Brook-Spence to follow. Stay tuned for more.