Hearn vs Warren – A look at the three-decade family feud

Eddie Hearn copied his father by taking some of Frank Warren’s clients,  the Queensbury promoter said he would ‘slap down’ his rival, and they have feuded over Fury and Joshua… a look at their rivalry as they unite for the first time in Saudi Arabia

  • Frank Warren’s Queensbury Promotions is hosting Saturday’s blockbuster card
  • Anthony Joshua, promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, will be fighting
  • Anthony Joshua’s nemesis, Jarrell Miller, reveals his unique preparation for Daniel Dubois showdown – Listen to The Hook 

Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren have come together for the first time in their storied rivalry ahead of Saturday’s ‘Day of Reckoning’ event in Saudi Arabia. 

Frank Warren’s Queensbury Promotions – in conjunction with Saudi representatives – is hosting the blockbuster card. 

Anthony Joshua, promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, faces Otto Wallin in the main event on a card which also includes Deontay Wilder taking on Joseph Parker 

The two boxing matchmakers have spent what feels like an eternity going at each other with verbal onslaughts in interviews. 

Yet, they were pictured smiling and joking when they met in person for the first time ever at a news conference last month.

Eddie Hearn (left) and Frank Warren (right) have united for the first time for Saturday’s event in Saudi Arabia 

Hearn’s fighter Anthony Joshua (right) will fight Otto Wallin at the show in Riyadh 

Warren’s Queensbury promotions – with Saudi representatives – are hosting the blockbuster card

The pair only met for the first time last month despite years of exchanging insults

It’s unlikely to mean that they will suddenly become friends, as Hearn said in his BBC column last month: ‘Matchroom and Queensberry will always be rivals, which is good for the fans because we will do our best to put on great shows, to be ahead of the competition.

‘But I have always said when the opportunity is right for the fighter, egos will generally be put to one side.

‘We would be idiots if we turned down this chance for Anthony Joshua, or Dmitry Bivol and Jai Opetaia who fight on the undercard. These are life-changing opportunities for some of those guys.’

Eddie was just a child though when the competitive family rivalry between the Hearns and Warrens got underway.

Warren established himself as the kingpin of the boxing world in the 1980s, but at the end of the decade he was shot by a man outside the Broadway Theatre in Barking in November 1989.

As per the Independent, the bullet shattered his ribs, ripped through his lung and burst out the side of his torso. 

He said he was taken to an ‘appropriately named hospital in shooters hill’ and ‘thought he was going to die’. 

Warren lost half a lung but survived the shooting. Former world champion Terry Marsh later went on trial over the attack, but was acquitted.

Without means of raising extra capital for an ambitious plan to build a new venue in the Docklands called the London Arena, his company collapsed and he was left with a £14m debt.  

In the meantime, Barry Hearn – Eddie’s father – established his own boxing empire and took a number of Warren’s clients. Among the biggest clients taken was Nigel Benn.

Warren claimed: ‘When I got shot, within six months most of the fighters jumped ship.

Warren claims Barry Hearn (pictured with Chris Eubank circa 1990) took a number of his clients in the aftermath of being shot back in 1989

The biggest client Barry took from Warren was Nigel Benn (pictured after beating Juan Carlos Gimenez in 1994)

History repeated itself when Barry’s son Eddie took a number of clients including Tony Bellew

‘I was left trying to keep my business together. (Nigel) Benn went with Hearn from me, as did a few others. Within two years, they all signed again with me.’

The pair did put their differences aside in 1993 to put together a deal with US promoter Don King to broadcast the Chris Eubank vs Benn fight in the US, as well as Britain. 

Benn was back with Warren by the time of his February 1995 win over Gerald McClellan. 

Eddie Hearn, speaking on his dad’s rivalry with Warren, told Boxing Social last year: ‘When my dad was promoting, they were rivals as well. So I kind of grew up in that rivalry really. It’s not that it’s been personal to me but they’ve never [worked well together].

‘Socially I’ve never really met Frank but everyone tells me ‘socially, you guys would get on.”

Eddie Hearn first involvement in boxing was promoting Audley Harrison’s fight against David Haye in 2011 before he took over the boxing side of Matchroom from his father to continue the family feud with Warren. 

Barry no longer wanted to focus on boxing and instead diverted his attention to poker and darts- while he was also chairman of Leyton Orient from 1995 to 2014. 

History began to repeat itself as Eddie, much like Barry did some two decades earlier, began to poach some of Warren’s clients.

The biggest of which was Tony Bellew – who was said to be frustrated Warren hadn’t secured him a rematch with Nathan Cleverley who he lost to in 2011. Bellew defeated Cleverley in their rematch while promoted by Hearn in 2014. 

Warren claimed unsuccessfully for £1.8m in lost profits after Ricky Burns (right) left the promoter for Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing 

Warren meanwhile sued former world boxing champion Ricky Burns after saying the Scotsman was ‘tapped up’ by the younger Hearn.  

Warren claimed unsuccessfully for £1.8million in lost profits at the High Court in London in 2014 after Burns joined Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom stable on March 11, 2013. But the judge also ruled Burns was not entitled to end the promotional agreement with Warren’s company and owed him commission. 

The court also rejected claims that Hearn encouraged Burns to leave Warren’s management. 

Hearn and Warren started their war of words in 2013, with Hearn telling the Evening Standard: ‘We have more fighters than Warren, by far the best stable in boxing.

‘Lots of people are saying I am the saviour of boxing, a breath of fresh air. We have a big job to really take control of the UK market but we are on the way.’

In 2013, Hearn had secured an exclusive deal with Sky, while assembling the biggest stable in Britain, at a time Warren had suffered financial losses. 

‘They say I’m on the ropes but that’s not the way I see it,’ Warren told The Independent. ‘The bottom line is, I’m really comfortable where I am. Yes, we have had a few problems, some shows have been postponed, but boxers get injured, so what am I to do?

‘OK, so in the last couple of years my promotional business has lost money. Having said that, you tell me how many companies have made profits in that time? Everything’s tough out there.’

Talk of a dream British heavyweight showdown between Joshua (left) and Tyson Fury has been the main spark in recent years over Warren and Hearn’s (right) rivalry

The fight looks unlikely with Fury (left) and Joshua instead seeking different opponents

He added: ‘What have they [Matchroom] done in the last year? Taken four guys abroad and got them all beat. What a great track record. There’s a good way to build your business.

‘He’s (Eddie) doing well, but every couple of years someone comes along and they’re going to change the face of boxing. But I’m still head and shoulders above anyone else. Should I worry about Eddie Hearn? Do me a favour. Is he a better man than his dad? Let’s see where he is in 30 years’ time.’

The rivalry continued over the years with Warren saying that he would ‘slap Hearn down’ if that was his child.

He told the Times in 2018: ‘I’ve never spoken to Eddie Hearn in my life but he annoyed me.

‘He said the fight between (Deontay) Wilder and (Tyson) Fury would never happen; he said we had only sold 8,000 seats; he said it would be a boring fight.

‘Wrong on all counts. Fake news. People need to hear this, and on the record. It’s Eddie Hearn’s father, Barry Hearn, who runs that business.

‘The kid just goes off talking rubbish. He has an ego which is awful. If he was my kid, I’d slap him down.’

Hearn in response, told talkSPORT: ‘I saw Frank Warren say if I was his son, he’d give me a smack. Looking at his financial accounts, he probably wishes I was his son.’

A big part of their rivalry over more recent years has come from promoting the two biggest British heavyweight boxing stars of the modern era in Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua.

Warren promotes Fury, while Joshua is part of Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing stable.

Hearn previously said he would ‘slap Hearn down’ if the Matchroom Boxing chief was his son

Joshua vs Fury has been the fight that British boxing fans have been clamouring for, yet all that has been seen is a slinging of words from both camps, with both men taking on fights that boxing fans haven’t been as excited by.

That’s not to say they haven’t had tough opponents, Fury went through a gruelling three-fight series with Deontay Wilder, while Joshua lost twice to the Gypsy King’s next opponent Oleksandr Usyk.

Joshua’s defeats to Usyk and Andy Ruiz Jr have not helped the cause for the fight, as have a number of other issues.

Hearn said in October: ‘AJ is with DAZN, Fury is with BT and before that AJ was with Sky. Everybody wants it exclusively on their channel. Fury comes in and says I want 50/50 when he isn’t the champion, then he wants it 60/40 when is the champion. When the money is there and two guys want the fight, nine times out of 10 it will happen.’

Warren meanwhile insisted that Joshua had ‘two opportunities’ to fight Fury.

He said: ‘He’d (Joshua) have a long wait for Tyson. Tyson’s got his fight and his programmes set out for next year and at this moment in time doesn’t include Joshua.

‘Joshua, he had two opportunities to fight him [Fury], one last December and this year,’ he continued.

‘Those fights didn’t happen for whatever reason and the situation is now that we are in a position where a number of big fights will be announced. It all depends what happens on Saturday.’

Meanwhile, Warren admitted there was one reason why the promoters came together in harmony – money.

‘At the end of the day, money makes fights – and that is what’s making this happen,’ Warren told talkSPORT. ‘Everybody is getting what they want and it’s been fantastic.’

Money might talk in Saudi Arabia this Saturday, and this might be the start of a working partnership – only when the situation and the timing is right like the Saudi supercard. 

But it won’t be a surprise to see them slinging more words at each other in the New Year and for the rivalry to pick up just where it left off. 

However, we can all hope that they can put their differences aside down the line to see their No 1 talents Fury and Joshua collide in the fight everybody wants to see.  


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