Exclusive: Eddie Hearn speaks out on Taylor-Catterall II and AJ-Ngannou

 | February 21 | 

4 mins read

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Matchroom supremo Eddie Hearn has a lot on his plate - as always - as he sits down with Betfred Insights at the Manchester press conference for Josh Taylor’s rematch with Jack Catterall. That super lightweight showdown is at the forefront of his mind, of course.

But there is also the small matter of Anthony Joshua, the Matchroom crown jewel, and his upcoming battle with Francis Ngannou.

Latest Boxing Odds

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We spoke with Eddie about the long and winding road to Taylor-Catterall II as well as AJ’s tough Saudi task. First on the agenda, exactly why did it take two years to get what feels like a natural rematch into the ring?

“Jack's only been our fighter for six months. So I missed a lot of that. I remember the first fight and I thought Josh Taylor would win the fight easily. I had him losing him by three rounds in the fight. I couldn't believe the decision. Then you just presume that the rematch will happen automatically because of the controversy. But I've seen it before.”

The fight brought another great British rivalry to Hearn’s mind. As with this upcoming rematch, it was a fight Matchroom had a lot to do with.

“Someone was talking earlier about Carl Froch v George Groves. It reminds me a lot of that, because it was a mandatory challenger [like Catterall]. Josh had achieved undisputed and everything. Then Jack came in and started piping up. Josh was like: 'Yeah, I'm Josh Taylor, I'm undisputed.' That was the same with Carl.

“Then Jack puts in a great performance and then you've got the controversy. Then you've got the reaction, then you become the bad guy. Then you're like: 'He can do one, I’m not fighting him.' That was what Carl was like with George, after that incident. 'I've beaten him, I'm not giving him another opportunity. Let him go and fight someone else.'”

Taylor shared Froch’s initial reluctance, but like ‘The Cobra’ he will now take on his tormentor and attempt to prove the validity of his earlier win in the ring. 

“The public pressure comes, then the pay day comes. It's taken two years, which is quite amazing, really. But we're here. Although there's no world title on the line, it's much bigger than it was the first time around.”

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The pair first met in February 2022, with Taylor’s undisputed super lightweight title on the line. That bout took place in Glasgow, home turf for ‘The Tartan Tornado’. While Catterall may have hoped for a Manchester fight in return, instead this precariously-negotiated contest has gone to neutral ground.

“Jack thought he earned the right not to have to go to Scotland again with Josh no longer being the champion, particularly. Josh didn't want to come to Manchester. Leeds is a 12,000 arena, as you've seen from the Josh Warrington crowds. It's banked and it's fantastic. Jack sells a lot of tickets as well. Jack sells a lot of tickets out of hand. Jack will sell 3,000 tickets out of hand for Leeds. It is a massive fight and hopefully we can have a lot of Scots coming down as well. It’s going to be a great atmosphere.”

While Hearn loves travelling up and down the country staging big boxing bills, he is missing a venue a little further afield.

“I said to someone the other day that I miss Saudi. I like the weather! But the hospitality, the arenas, the shows, everything. There's a really good feel to the scene out there. While you're there, you do a lot of business and you plan a lot of fights. 

“His Excellency is the biggest boxing fan ever. We'll start drawing up plans for this undercard on this show and it's quite exhilarating. As exhilarating as Joshua and Ngannou, which is going to be nerve wracking, exciting. Two absolute colossal lumps that can switch your lights off at any time. Trading leather on March 8 and I'm nervous about that fight. I'm very confident, but I know that Ngannou is going to be a threat. AJ has just got to come through that and get the win.”

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