Frank Warren has issued a challenge to rival boxing promoter Eddie Hearn to set up a card in the near future pitting some of Warren’s best Queensberry Promotions fighters against Matchroom Boxing’s elite.
However, many — including Hearn himself — seem to be uncertain as to whether this is something Warren would really like to discuss or if it's simply gamesmanship on the road to an eventual heavyweight unification megafight between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua.
Warren wrote in a column on his official website entitled ‘A Message To Matchroom And Sky’ that “the time is right to throw off the shackles”.
Those “shackles” would presumably be the delicate nature of television rights, with Warren’s Queensberry airing on BT Sport as opposed to Matchroom’s deal with Sky.
With both promotions working to find a compromise around this and deliver Joshua vs. Fury in the future, it appears Warren doesn’t believe that all-British heavyweight extravaganza should be the only cross-promotional outing.
Hearn was quoted in June as saying WBC champion Fury and WBA, IBF and WBO belt holder Joshua had agreed to a two-fight deal, though the finer details were yet to be worked out.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 has forced both promoters to get creative in order to get live fights back on the schedule. Hearn has begun to stage Fight Camp shows from the back garden of his headquarters, while Warren has been operating out of BT Sport studios in London.
"Queensberry's finest versus the best of Matchroom," wrote Warren. "What I am proposing is to break down the borders and give the fans the fights they want to see.
Queensberry vs Matchroom...— Frank Warren (@frankwarren_tv) August 4, 2020
BT vs Sky...
Who wants it?!? pic.twitter.com/VMk7DoJlnn
"Forget about promoter pride and egos, it is not about us," he continued. "This is the time to turbo-charge boxing right back into the mainstream and capture the imagination of the watching public.
"Who wouldn't want to see Dillian Whyte taking on the best young heavyweight in the world, Daniel Dubois, later this year or early next while Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua are busy making other plans?
"Any takers for Joe Joyce against Dereck Chisora? Archie Sharp v Zelfa Barrett? Hamzah Sheeraz v Ted Cheeseman? Charlie Edwards v Kal Yafai?
"What about seeing Nathan Gorman step in the ring with Dave Allen? There are numerous potential bangers there to be made and no good reason not to make them.
"You could say I am throwing down the gauntlet and I would hope this honest proposal is taken at face value and not blithely dismissed. For the long-term good of our sport, now is the time to put up or shut up."
Hearn later responded to the challenge, noting that while he’s open to some co-operation down the line, it isn’t as easy as Warren is trying to imply.
“It was an interesting move,” Hearn told the Mirror. “There’s no reason why we can’t discuss it.
“But it’s important for people to know that last week alone, the British Boxing Board of Control received three or more emails of complaint from Queensberry about our Fight Camp card, trying to grass on things that didn’t even exist.
“Apart from that, all I ever get from them is legal letters and fake Twitter accounts. So let’s see where it goes, but I understand it’s tough times so if I can help them out in any way, I will consider it for sure.
“Right now I’m laser focused on our business and delivering for our fighters.”
On Wednesday, Warren responded to Hearn's quotes on Twitter:
.@EddieHearn pic.twitter.com/XbMRTfbqZR— Frank Warren (@frankwarren_tv) August 5, 2020
While it’s understandable that Hearn (and others) would question the sincerity of Warren’s proposal, there’s no denying the appeal of such an inter-promotional challenge series.