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'Chase your dreams' - impassioned Hearn tells team Matchroom

Frank Warren, Eddie Hearn, Zhilei Zhang and Deontay Wilder pose
The winning promoter will earn $3m as Matchroom and Eddie Hearn (right) take on Queensberry's Frank Warren (left) in Riyadh [Matchroom Boxing]

Eddie Hearn delivered an impassioned, motivational speech to team Matchroom before Saturday’s five versus five card against Queensberry in Saudi Arabia.

Hearn will go up against rival turned partner Frank Warren on Saturday, with both promoters selecting five fighters from their stable to face each other in Riyadh.

“You five, take this by the scruff of the neck, take it to this lot and you fight with all your heart,” Hearn told his boxers at Thursday’s news conference.

“You chase your dreams. On Saturday night we shall be victorious, without any question."

Exchanges between the promoters were more tongue in cheek than confrontational as they joined their fighters on the top table.

“In your dreams," a smirking Warren replied before making a case for why his team will win.

The Warren-Hearn rivalry dates back to the 1980s when the Matchroom boss’s father, Barry Hearn, was at the helm, before the families were convinced by Saudi organisers to put their differences aside last year.

“The rivalry goes back even further than you even know; from the age of eight or nine when my family entered the boxing world and there were two forbidden words – Frank and Warren,” Hearn added.

One point will be awarded for a decision win and two points for a knockout or technical knockout in the unprecedented team event at the Kingdom Arena, headlined by the heavyweight fight between big-hitters Deontay Wilder and Zhilei Zhang.

A team event with plenty at stake individually

Warren and Hearn may have taken centre stage but there is plenty riding for each fighter individually in an event which Warren says all five fights are main event worthy.

Matchroom have chosen American Wilder as the team captain.

Once considered the most formidable puncher in the division, Wilder’s stock has dropped after a lacklustre loss against Joseph Parker in December, while Zhang also lost to the New Zealander in his last outing.

Wilder spoke of his “warrior mindset” and promised a knockout, with captains’ points worth double, while Zhang - speaking through an interpreter - said the “Bronze Bomber is out of ammunition.”

Talented middleweight Hamzah Sheeraz has been selected as Queensberry team captain. He promised to repay that faith by “putting a beating” on Austin ‘Ammo’ Williams in their WBC final eliminator.

Londoner Daniel Dubois could be one win away from a world title shot when he faces Filip Hrgovic in an IBF final eliminator.

“We have a bit of history in sparring but that was seven years ago. I’m here for the fight on Saturday and I’m going to knock him out,” Dubois said.

Champion Oleksandr Usyk will most likely be ordered to vacate the title before a rematch with Tyson Fury, which would mean the winner of Dubois and Hrgovic facing Anthony Joshua in a Wembley Stadium headliner later this year.

A graphic showing the names of the fighters on the five versus five card
[BBC Sport]

Liverpool’s Nick Ball is presented with a second chance at capturing world honours when he takes on WBA featherweight champion Raymond Ford.

‘Wrecking’ Ball said his contentious draw with Rey Vargas in March “adds more fuel to the fire".

Light-heavyweights Craig Richards and Willy Hutchinson – who traded words at Tuesday’s grand arrivals event – complete the line-up, and they too are fully aware of the future riches on offer in lucrative Saudi Arabia.

The winning promoter will be awarded an additional $3m bonus, with Hearn promising to gloat if he is victorious.

“It will be painful for Queensberry for the foreseeable future,” he said.

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