Eddie Hearn isn’t buying Tyson Fury’s retirement, and he’s skeptical of a superfight with Francis Ngannou as well.
This past weekend, Fury delivered a sensational sixth-round KO of Dillian Whyte to retain his WBC and The Ring heavyweight titles, with Francis Ngannou sitting ringside. Following his win, Fury declared he was retiring from professional boxing, but called Ngannou into the ring to set up “a clash of the titans” with the UFC heavyweight champion at some point in the future. But the chairman of Matchroom Sport isn’t taking Fury at his word on either count.
“I don’t really believe anything he says,” Hearn told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “But he’s also capable of doing anything. Ultimately, it’s on him. If he wants walk away from boxing, good on him. It’s a very tough sport. He’s made alot of money, he’s won the world heavyweight championship, and if he’s happy doing that, good luck to him. I just feel that his biggest fights are in front of him, the real, career-defining, legacy-defining stuff. There’s a lot of talk at the moment about him being a generational great and better than Lennox Lewis and these fighters of the past, he may be, but ain’t got the resume to prove it yet. But he could do [it]. If he beats AJ [Anthony Joshua], if he beats [Oleksandr] Usyk, or certainly the winner of that fight, he goes down as an undisputed champion, a Lennox Lewis style, legacy, generational great.
“He’s a really good fighter. I just feel, when you look at resumes — AJ’s got a great resume. Is he a generational great heavyweight? No. But if he can beat Usyk and he can beat Fury, he goes down as an all-time great. That’s what he’s chasing. But it comes back to what do you want? How bad do you want it? Maybe you don’t want it anymore. But I would love to see Fury, who may well be in his prime, fight AJ, fight Usyk. It’s great for boxing. But he’s had a great run and maybe he’s had enough. But I don’t believe him.”
Hearn is not alone in his disbelief. Many have questioned whether Fury will stick to his guns with lucrative matchups against Joshua and/or Usyk looming, and at only 33 years old, “The Gypsy King” still has plenty of time to change his mind. However, one thing Fury seemingly hasn’t changed his mind about is a superfight with Ngannou. For the last several months, both Fury and Ngannou have been publicly discussing a superfight, including throwing out ideas for hybrid rulesets, and with Ngannou set to become a free agent at the end of this year, nothing seems to be standing in the way of that fight getting made. But Hearn remains skeptical.
“It’s a big fight. I actually don’t [think it happens.] I don’t know the contractual situation,” Hearn said. “I think Tyson Fury’s up with ESPN or about to be and Ngannou’s up with the UFC, maybe Dana comes in and does it himself, or maybe I do it with Dana. I don’t know...
“Big fight. Big fight. But it’s the contracts, I can’t imagine Dana doing a fight with Bob Arum, how long the contracts are, is Ngannou gonna re-sign? The Ngannou situation, I would be very surprised if Ngannou left the UFC without Dana White having some kind of involvement or control.”
Hearn has consistently said that Ngannou will ultimately re-sign with the UFC, calling it “almost a certainty” and Ngannou himself has said his preference would be to return to the UFC, so long as they are willing to accommodate his boxing interests. If they don’t Ngannou has made it clear he will continue his career without them, and pursue a fight with Fury on his own. And if that happens, Hearn says that he could be interested in being involved.
“I’m interested in any big fight that does big numbers,” Hearn said. “I’m not really interested as a boxing purist because [it’s a mismatch]. They’re big boys. One punch can change everything, but I prefer Dillian Whyte against Ngannou, maybe with a little bit of mixed, hybrid rules. Because Dillian Whyte is a kickboxer, he can grapple as well. But anything like that is exciting.”