Before bad optics intervened, Eddie Hearn and Jake Paul planned to put $1 million on the line with the outcome of Katie Taylor vs. Amanda Serrano.
Then they wagered their faces.
On Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, Hearn explained how the bet morphed into something with more personal stakes when more rational (legal) minds pointed out the ethical problems with promoters betting on their own fights.
Hearn said Matchroom exec Shaun Palmer was waiting when he stepped off the dais after excepting Paul’s $1 million bet, and the look on Palmer’s face told him everything he needed to know.
“It’s not a great look,” Hearn said of his counsel’s reaction. “It’s very sort of gray area of a promoter betting on a fight that he’s promoting as far as integrity, it doesn’t look great.”
Paul is known for making wagers with opponents and interested parties such as UFC President Dana White. As Serrano’s promoter, however, he is theoretically bound to a different set of rules, which is why the idea made for good headlines but not much else.
That didn’t keep the interested parties from trying to make things a little more interesting, however.
“We spoke to [Most Valuable Promotions co-founder] Nakisa [Bidarian] and Jake, and they were like, ‘What do you want to do?’” Hearn said. “And it’s like, we can’t really do the bet, but do you want to come up with something different? And we sort of kicked through a few ideas.
“We didn’t actually finalize anything, but I think the last thing was, if Katie lost, I would have to go and spar with Jake, and we’d probably stream, maybe even for charity,” Hearn said. “And if we won, I would send someone to spar Jake.”
Sure enough, Hearn came out ahead this past Saturday night when Taylor survived a few dicey rounds to outpoint Serrano on two of three judges’ scorecards. The history-making fight – no women had previously headlined an event at Madison Square Garden – brought the house down and immediately spurred talk of a rematch, potentially on Taylor’s home soil at the 80,000-seat Croke Park in Dublin.
Hearn has several options in mind if Paul decides to honor the bet.
“We’ll see if they still wanna,” he said. “[I’ve got] quite a few. Tony Bellew would be a good one.”
Paul no-sold Bellew at a press conference for Taylor vs. Serrano, prompting a testy response from the former cruiserweight champion and boxing commentator. The two ran into each other backstage this past Saturday and reportedly kept things cordial. But Hearn said Paul’s approach to promotion may lead to some less-than-pleasant outcomes.
“The problem with Jake is, he’s now in a world, where it’s a strike-on-sight world,” Hearn said. “So if you say something that’s offensive or disrespectful, in this world, it’s not a conversation – it’s strike-on-sight. So if he said something about Tony Bellew, particularly to his family or something like that, there’s no conversation. He will iron him out on sight.”