Growing up, all Eddie Hearn wanted to do was what many boys imagine themselves doing — being involved in sports.
Hearn started in sports marketing, representing golfers from the European and PGA Tours. He then got involved with his father, former long-time boxing promoter Barry Hearn, and his promotional company Matchroom. The company at the time was only involved with online gaming companies to help promote televised poker tournaments around the world.
But in 2008, when boxing was on the downturn in the United Kingdom, Matchroom helped reinvigorate the sport with a highly successful event called "Prizefighter," an eight-man, one-night tournament. The positive feedback helped convince Hearn to follow in his father's footsteps and get involved in the boxing business.
With Hearn at the helm, representing the likes of unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, former world champions Amir Khan and Kell Brook and current women's champion Katie Taylor, the U.K. has a spark of boxing interest it hasn't seen in more than 25 years.
Arenas are sold out more often than not, and in Joshua's last three fights — all have been held in soccer stadiums, including Saturday's fight against Joseph Parker — almost 250,000 tickets have been sold.
Many in boxing regard Hearn as the best promoter in the sport.
"If I’m going to be brash about it, I struggle to see who is better," Hearn told Sporting News. "That’s not just because I’m great. That’s because there aren't many great promoters out there anymore. I don’t really see Bob Arum, and I don’t mean this disrespectfully at all, but is he a full-time promoter anymore? He has a brilliant business at Top Rank and he’s driver of the engine behind the shows at Top Rank. You can’t have that same engine and non-stop relentlessness at that age. It’s impossible.
"At the moment, I’m the relentless one and trying to push the boundaries just like my dad, Bob Arum and Don King when they were 40."
As there is for everybody in his or her chosen profession, Hearn sees room for improvement. He admits he has a long way to go in terms of being of a great promoter, but he did mention one specific goal for 2018.
"I’ve got a lot of work to do in perfecting my craft. I think we are the leading promoters because we are very good and I don’t (think) competition is where it was. Would we have been the (leading) promoters when Bob Arum and Don King were at the top? Maybe not. But right now in terms of the competition, I say we are the frontrunners. The next goal for us is to expand and hopefully take control of the America market. That’s something we hope to do in 2018."
Added Hearn: "We need the right association and partnership with the right broadcaster, someone whose going to give you the right flexibility and, most importantly, the dates to grow a championship stable.
"Our only U.S. fighter at the moment is Daniel Jacobs. A great start, but until we get 12, 14 or 16 dates from American broadcasters, we cannot go out there and sign multiple world champions. If we get that from that partner, we have the brand and the reputation and the ability to build a frightening stable of fighters."
Steven Muehlhausen is an MMA and boxing writer and contributor for Sporting News. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and can find him on Twitter @SMuehlhausenMMA.