Eddie Hearn insists that Anthony Joshua remains the number one draw in boxing ahead of Tyson Fury.
Undefeated WBC heavyweight world champion, Fury has rivalled the popularity of former unified titlist, Joshua in the UK after attracting a record 94,000 capacity to Wembley Stadium in April to watch his successful defence against Dillian Whyte.
It was the first time Fury, who announced his retirement after stopping Whyte in six rounds, had sold out and headlined a UK stadium bill, whilst Joshua has headlined five stadium fights in the UK dating back to his victory over Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium in 2017.
Hearn, who has promoted ‘AJ’ since he turned over after winning gold at the 2012 Olympics believes his charge is still a bigger attraction than ’The Gypsy King’, who struck a chord with the public with his historic trilogy with Deontay Wilder and his much-publicised mental health battle.
The Matchroom boss was in discussions to sign the 33-year-old back in 2017, as he prepared to make his comeback after ballooning up in weight, but feels his loyalty with Joshua ultimately prevented the pair from working together, with Fury opting to team up with Hall of Fame promoter, Frank Warren.
“Tyson Fury isn’t the biggest draw in boxing,” Hearn said in an interview with GQ Magazine.
“AJ still is. But yes – he’s a huge star. But I am loyal to AJ, and I think Fury knew that when I was discussing signing him when he was 400lbs.
“He knew AJ would be my number one, and that would have been difficult. But you never know what could happen in the future.”
Joshua has arrived in Saudi Arabia ahead of his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk on August 20, live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK.
The 32-year-old Watford man, who is attempting to win back the IBF, WBA ‘super’, WBO and IBO belts that were ripped away from him by Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September, is determined to avenge the second loss of his career, according to Hearn.
“There’s a lot of pressure in AJ’s world,” Hearn added.
“I feel like he’s lived in this bubble for a long time. AJ doesn’t go out, really. He trains. He goes back to one of his houses. He sees his mates, does a bit of motocross, plays a bit of FIFA. But that’s it.
“When you live in that world and you suffer defeat, it’s very lonely. Everyone turns on you.
“The adulation that you received from the public turns to ‘oh you lost mate, you ain’t actually that good, you’re useless.’
“And I feel that he’s a very proud man.
“But I had several meetings with him almost immediately after, and he is one of those people who just wants to put it right.”