Eddie Hearn has taken exception to Lawrence Okolie’s attempt to align himself with a new promoter.
Okolie, the WBO cruiserweight titlist and Hearn, the head of Matchroom, are currently in a legal battle over his contract. Okolie believes he has fulfilled his obligations with Matchroom, while Matchroom believes Okolie owes them one more fight. Okolie said he had a lucrative offer from another promoter and presented it to Hearn, but Hearn refused to match it.
It was recently reported by BoxingScene.com that, despite the uncertainty of his promotional status, Okolie is headed toward a mandatory defense against top contender David Light on March 11 in Okolie’s hometown of London. The bout is projected to be promoted by Boxxer, the promotional upstart that is the key content provider for Sky Sports, the UK broadcaster that Hearn’s Matchroom was previously partnered with before Hearn linked up with DAZN in 2021.
“Obviously, legally there’s things I can and cannot say,” Hearn said on The DAZN Boxing Show. “It’s very disappointing … you can count on not even one hand, half a hand, or maybe even one finger, fighters that have spoken negatively about Matchroom in the past, when they’ve parted company or come to the end of their contract. We’re very honest, we deliver, we have a tremendous team. We pay everybody on time, we don’t tell lies, and that’s very rare in the boxing world.
“We had a situation with Lawrence Okolie, it’s been well documented. He had a fight left under his contract, he disputed that. And it’s going through that legal process now. People interfered with his contract. There’s legal cases and situations going on there. I’m not really for that, to be honest with you. I always feel like if a fighter comes to me and sits down and says these are my reasons I would like to leave, it’s very difficult to continue that conversation. But when you feel like you’ve done a great job, when you feel that you’ve delivered on every single level, the way that some people go about it made me feel disrespected.
“I reacted in a way where I didn’t like that. I didn’t think it was justified. There’s no point going backwards or forwards. It will play out how it will play out. Like I said we had done a tremendous job for Lawrence Okolie.
Okolie has not been shy about criticizing Hearn in the press, suggesting recently that Hearn made a self-regarding move by leaving Sky for DAZN.
“He was with Sky for years, had amazing shows, built up a host of fighters,” Okolie said. Then a $1 billion check came and Eddie ran off to DAZN.”
Hearn insists his company was under no obligation to match a competitor’s offer since Okolie is still under contract with Matchroom. Hearn also made it clear he is willing to take this conflict as far as possible, legally speaking.
“He was under contract to us,” Hearn said. “He received an offer while he was under contract. It was a great offer and it was sent to us. And he wanted to take it because it was a lot of money, but he forgot the fact that he had a fight left with us. That’s gonna play out, legally, and we’ll see where it gets to. Nobody likes to go through that process but unfortunately this is the way this one rolled out.”