Eddie Hearn vs Frank Warren is the battle of British boxing’s biggest promoters, and the rivals are locked in talks over Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury megafight… as they relaunch the sport in lockdown, which has the best stable of fighters?
- Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren head Britain’s two leading boxing promotions
- Matchroom Boxing and Queensberry Promotions represent the sport’s elite
- Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury are locked in talks over a two-fight deal in 2021
- Hearn and Warren are locked in contract discussions to make the fight a reality
- But who are their other big names and which promotion has the better stable?
For the last two decades, British boxing has been fighting fit and it is in no small part thanks to two men – Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren.
The boxing supremos head the UK’s two biggest boxing stables – Matchroom Boxing and Queensberry Promotions – with each company boasting some of the best fighters in the sport today.
Their rivalry as promoters is also well documented and adds to the entertainment, with the two continuously attempting to out-do each other whenever it comes to putting on a blockbuster card under their own banners – and a cutting soundbite about each other.
Boxing has been on the sidelines for months during the coronavirus pandemic, but both promoters are attempting to reel fans back in with a series of shows in lockdown behind closed doors. Hearn has launched his ambitious ‘Fight Camp’, held in the garden of Matchroom’s HQ and kicking off on Saturday night. Meanwhile, Warren has been organising fights for his stars in BT Sport’s studio.
Eddie Hearn (left) and Frank Warren (right) are head of the UK’s two best boxing promotions
But when it comes down to it, which promotion has the better fighters?
Here, Sportsmail ranks Matchroom Boxing and Queensberry Promotions’ best six fighters and the company themselves before deciding which promotion comes out on top.
MATCHROOM BOXING (Eddie Hearn)
Anthony Joshua (23-1-0)
The golden boy of Matchroom Boxing, Anthony Joshua is undoubtedly Hearn’s main draw as a promoter, eclipsing the likes of Carl Froch and Kell Brook as stable favourites.
The 30-year-old Watford-born heavyweight currently holds the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles, having regained them in December from his first vanquisher, Andy Ruiz Jr.
The defeat in June last year may have removed some of the shine from Joshua’s golden status, but in truth, he remains one of the biggest draws in world boxing.
As he prepares for his fight against Kubrat Pulev, AJ will definitely be thinking ahead to unifying the heavyweight division with the proposed super-fight against Warren’s own top draw: Tyson Fury.
Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is undoubtedly Hearn’s main draw as a promoter
Callum Smith (27-0-0)
After beating George Groves with a seventh-round knockout at the 2018 World Boxing Super Series, many believed Smith fulfilled his potential as a world champion. The 30-year-old Liverpudlian currently holds the WBA’s world super-middleweight title and is also The Ring super-middleweight champion.
Part of the fighting Smith family, all of whom have been promoted by Matchroom, bar Liam, Callum still has a flawless record and has also been mooted as a potential opponent for Canelo Alvarez in the near future.
Smith represents a very live threat to the Mexican, with several pundits believing his size, athleticism and pure punching power could be too much for Alvarez. Even if he doesn’t beat Canelo, big, big fights still await him at light heavyweight should he move up.
Oleksandr Usyk (17-0-0)
Definitely boxing’s Next Big Thing. Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk is one of the best pound-for-pound boxers on the planet and is the mandatory challenger for the WBO world heavyweight championship, should AJ overcome Kubrat Pulev.
And while Joshua and Fury have hopes of unifying the division, the former undisputed cruiserweight king Usyk will likely pose as the biggest threat to that happening.
Oleksandr Usyk is one the best pound-for-pound boxers and is co-promoted by Hearn
Dillian Whyte (27-1-0)
Like Joshua, Dillian Whyte is being lined up to face one of Warren’s top men in Daniel Dubois once he has fought former WBA champion Alexander Povetkin this August. However, Whyte has had his eyes firmly set on Fury for a while now and is due a world title shot, by way of a WBC issued order, by February 2021.
However, the Brixton-based heavyweight could be made to wait if Fury vs Joshua gets the green light. There is hope that the 32-year-old will get his time to shine in the heavyweight division.
Dillian Whyte has taken legal action against the WBC over the date for his mandatory fight
Joshua Buatsi (12-0-0)
One for the future, Joshua Buatsi has showed real signs of promise since signing with Matchroom Boxing having won bronze at the 2016 Olympics as an amateur.
The Ghanaian-born British light heavyweight claimed the British title in his 10th fight and has since moved on to stop a couple of world-ranked opponents in Ryan Ford and Marco Antonio Periban. Hearn has said he’s very ‘excited’ about the 27-year-old during his first three years as a professional.
Billy Joe Saunders (29-0-0)
Controversial at the best of times, Billy Joe Saunders is one of Britain’s most talented boxers but his issues outside of the ring have heavily hindered his progress. Like Smith, Saunders was another fighter on Canelo’s radar but has since had to pull out of talks and has turned down a September fight amid his boxing ban due to the disgusting video posted on social media in which he was seen advising men how to beat their female partners during lockdown.
He also suggested he could walk away from the sport if trusted advisor Daniel Kinahan is forced out of boxing over his alleged links to a €1billion criminal empire. While his talent is undeniable, the unending controversies that stalk Saunders continue to hold him back from reaching his peak.
Billy Joe Saunders is still waiting for a career-defining fight but controversy stalks him
QUEENSBERRY PROMOTIONS (Frank Warren)
Tyson Fury (30-0-1)
After coming out on top in his fight with depression, drink and drug abuse, Tyson Fury is back at the summit of the heavyweight mountain. The Gypsy King completed his sensational return to glory when he beat Deontay Wilder inside seven rounds to become the WBC heavyweight champion, keeping his unbeaten record intact.
Fury is now the man to beat, and while he and Wilder will settle the score with a trilogy bout later this year, following the controversial split-decision draw in their first fight, it is his a fight with Joshua that everyone is pining for. The 31-year-old claims he only has a couple of fights left in him, but it’s safe to say each one of them will be blockbusters.
Tyson Fury is back at the summit of the heavyweight mountain after beating Deontay Wilder
Carl Frampton (27-2-0)
Frampton was contemplating retirement in 2018 following his defeat to fellow Warren stable-mate Josh Warrington but is looking to go out on a high in pursuit of another belt following a brilliant career.
The north Belfast man, who is the only Northern Irishman to have won world titles in two weight classes, was lined up to face WBO super-featherweight champion Jamel Herring this summer but saw his plans scuppered by the coronavirus pandemic.
He is still hoping to meet Herring at Windsor Park for a chance to become the first Irish fighter to win world titles in three weight divisions. Another brilliant boxer from the British Isles but only has a couple of fights left in him.
Daniel Dubois (14-0-0)
At 22 years old, Dubois is one of the heavyweight division’s most exciting prospects and is scheduled to fight Joe Joyce in October this year. Their clash looks set to become Britain’s first post-lockdown boxing sell-out with Dubois’ British and Commonwealth titles on the line, as well as the vacant European crown.
Dynamite Dubois, who has previously likened himself to a mixture of Lennox Lewis and Larry Holmes, has big gloves to fill but the 6ft 5in heavyweight has shown huge signs of promise in his short but already impressive career. Big things are expected from the world champion-in-waiting from Greenwich.
Queensberry’s Daniel Dubois is one of the heavyweight division’s most exciting prospects
Anthony Yarde (19-1-0)
Yarde has shown tremendous promise since turning pro in 2015 and has steadily been heading towards big-money fights at the top of the light heavyweight division. He has already stepped up to face the division’s former supremo Sergey Kovalev, in August 2019.
Yarde fell short, however, being stopped in the 11th after having limited success against the Russian in earlier rounds. Kovalev praised Yarde’s strength and boxing IQ post-fight, saying he believes he will be a world champion, and at 28 there is still time on his side, but it remains to be seen how far he will progress in one of boxing’s most talented divisions.
Yarde will need to show he can follow through at championship level amid competition from the likes of Arthur Beterbiev, Dimitiry Bivol, Eleider Alvarez or other former champions in the division, such as Jean Pascal or Badou Jack.
Anthony Yarde has shown tremendous promise since turning professional in 2015
Zolani Tete (28-4-0)
Zolani Tete is one of the greatest fighters to emerge from Africa in recent times and is undoubtedly one of Warren’s big-names.
The 32-year-old may have been stripped of his world title last time out but he remains a serious player in the bantamweight division.
The three-weight world champion is known for his explosive power and has wowed UK fans over the years with some devastating performances. He still has the record for the fastest knockout in a world title fight after dispatching Siboniso Gonya in just 11 seconds back in 2017.
Three-weight world champion Zolani Tete is one of the best fighters on Warren’s books
Joe Joyce (10-0-0)
Like Warren-promoted Dubois, Joe Joyce represents the future of the heavyweight division for British fighters – but only if he makes hay while the sun shines.
At 34-years-old, Joyce should be at the peak of his physical ability at the weight (heavyweights traditionally come into their prime later than other fighters) but Joyce is still fairly fresh as a pro having only turned over after winning heavyweight silver at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics.
Joyce had signed to fight the unbeaten Dubois before the coronavirus pandemic scuppered a calendar of fights, but the two Londoners will be looking to get it on by the year’s end, should they get past their rescheduled warm-up opponents. If Joyce can manage to get past the slightly favoured Dubois, then maybe bigger fights may be on the horizon against the division’s big boys.
Verdict: MATCHROOM BOXING (…for now)
Comparing across both promotions is largely a subjective endeavour, but there are several factors past pure talent that can be considered.
From marketability on a global scale to fighters having enough in the tank to fulfil their potential, both Hearn and Warren’s battle for relevancy will be decided on how able their fighters are to capitalise on their chances when their given them.
The Matchroom way seems to provide a framework for cherry-picked fighters early on in their careers that sets fighters up for success later on – as is evidenced by Joshua’s meteoric rise to stardom and Buatsi’s promising ascendency. But as is the way of business, sometimes this takes longer than anticipated and Hearn has proved to be more than happy to cut his losses if the numbers don’t add up.
Warren on the other hand has proved to hold enduring faith in his boxers and will help them create names for themselves by pitting them against stronger opposition earlier on in their careers.
Matchroom edges it just for now when marketability and long-term strategy are considered
On balance, Hearn’s future-proofing of his fighters and long-term strategy through his partnership with broadcasters Sky Sports sees his fighters regularly exposed to bigger audiences with a more casual interest in boxing.
Despite not always being considered Pay-Per-View-worthy to some of the sport’s more die-hard fanbase, regular exposure has helped create a more engaged and invested audience over the past decade.
Perhaps if Warren can maximise on his relationship with broadcasters BT to a greater effect, fighters like Dubois or Joyce may well enjoy the kind of careers that Fury, Joshua, Usyk or Frampton have forged for themselves.
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