Matchroom vs Queensberry 5v5: Eddie Hearn v Frank Warren relive their rivalry

Home UK News Matchroom vs Queensberry 5v5: Eddie Hearn v Frank Warren relive their rivalry
Matchroom vs Queensberry 5v5: Eddie Hearn v Frank Warren relive their rivalry

Just six months ago, nobody would have predicted Hearn and Warren would be playing a friendly and bizarrely captivating game of Jenga at April’s news conference.

Their relationship now is far less fragile than the building block game.

“We’re quite likeminded in a lot of things which I’ve found quite refreshing. I’m enjoying Eddie’s company,” Warren says.

It is a rivalry steeped in history, ever since a young Hearn would listen to his father arguing with Warren on the phone.

Hearn Sr – who until then had focused largely on snooker – capitalised when Warren was shot by a masked assailant in November 1989 and wealthy backers pulled their funding from the promoter.

Boxers jumped ship to Matchroom but Warren’s resilience saw him fight back. He orchestrated the 1993 rematch between Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank and two years later signed a lucrative contract with broadcasters Sky.

History appeared to repeat itself years later when a fresh-faced Hearn Jr burst on to the scene and disrupted the market.

Armed with prospects including Kell Brook and Tony Bellew – who would later become world champions – Hearn signed an exclusive deal with Sky Sports in 2012 which lasted nine years.

As Warren and Hearn went about their business separately, fans and fighters suffered.

Some crossover fights materialised, such as Kid Galahad crossing the divide to face Queensberry’s Josh Warrington in a featherweight world-title fight in 2019.

But the super-fight between Joshua and Tyson Fury and a light-heavyweight domestic dust-up between Joshua Buatsi and Anthony Yarde are just two examples of how promoter conflict prevented some high-profile match-ups from taking place.

That all changed when energy-rich Saudi Arabia entered the boxing foray.

Now there was enough space – and money – for both Hearn and Warren to sit at the top table as Turki Alalshikh, chairman of Saudi Arabia’s general entertainment authority, and Warren’s son, Queensberry CEO George Warren, insisted on co-operation.

“It took someone with a bit of sense to bang our heads together and say ‘guys we can do something really special’,” Hearn says.

He soon realised the Hearns and Warrens were not all that different.

“There are a lot of similarities with the families,” he adds. “We’re both from working class backgrounds. Frank started well doing in business, then his son George came through in a similar upbringing to me and we both made it in the sport.”

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