Hearn plans Selby world title fight in March and hopes to host it in Wales

Hearn plans Selby world title fight in March and hopes to host it in Wales

Eddie Hearn is planning for Barry Town’s ‘Sugar’ Lee Selby (20-1, 8KO) to challenge for a world title in March and it could be at an outdoor event in Wales if the demand is there from fight fans. Russia’s Evgeny Gradovich (19-0, 9KO) is scheduled to defend his IBF world title against Jayson Velez on November 29th in Nebraska, USA but will have to face Selby in the new year. The Welsh featherweight shone on Saturday with a ninth round stoppage of Australia’s undefeated Joel Brunker to secure mandatory position with the governing body. Hearn said, “I think we’re looking at around March time when we he [Gradovich] will have to fight him [Selby]. Gradovich has announced that he’s fighting in November. Perfect, he can have that fight and then put the mandatory on. I’ve already spoken to Top Rank who have got him, they’re up for the fight. So, it’s not going to be like they’re ducking him.” Matchroom Sport have promoted two shows in Wales this year, ‘Reloaded’ in February and ‘The Second Coming’ in May. Both attracted crowds of 4-5,000 but an event to bring Gradovich to Wales would have to be bigger than both nights put together to make it financially possible. When speaking to BoxingWales.com prior to Selby’s showcase stoppage of Brunker, Hearn remained realistic and said, “Hopefully, we’ll come to Wales next spring with Selby. If I come to Wales, it might even be summer, it could be outdoors but he’s got to look devastating and make a statement. “Otherwise, if I can’t bring 20,000 to an outdoor Lee Selby event, I can’t bring Gradovich here. The only way I can do that is for him to look sensational and get the Welsh people behind him.” “There is demand here. When we came the first time, we sold out double quick but come the second time, we didn’t. We came back too quickly, that was the problem but when you go to a place for the first time and it sells out, you think lets go back.” Securing home advantage has been a hot topic of discussion in British boxing over recent months. Sheffield’s Kell Brook proved that if a boxer is good enough then he can win on the road as he was able to dethrone world welterweight monster Shawn Porter in California. However, it’s undoubted that hometown advantage benefitted Germany’s Arthur Abraham when he defended his super-middleweight world title against Liverpool’s Paul Smith, courtesy of some surprisingly wide scorecards. Being a Russian based in California, Gradovich doesn’t having a ticket-buying-fan following in the states and relies on backing from his promoter and broadcaster. Admitting the difficulties in competing with that backing, Hearn was honest in the likelihood of hosting the fight in Wales, having already changed Selby’s route to maximise his chances. He said, “A reason why we went down the IBF route, I think we’ve got more chance of getting Gradovich over than we have potentially Jhonny Gonzalez [WBC champion]. I try to be as straight up as I can about bringing fighters over, sometimes you can do it. “If a fighter wants like two, three or four hundred thousand dollars, not a problem. If he wants $1.5-$2m, it’s impossible. “Some broadcasting fees will be $3.3m for a standard Saturday night fight night, ours isn’t even 10% of that.” Image by Russell Pritchard.

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