Eddie Hearn: We need to be realistic about Jamie McDonnell

Jamie McDonnell with trainer Dave Hulley.
Jamie McDonnell with trainer Dave Hulley.

Top promoter Eddie Hearn says he is willing to work with Jamie McDonnell – if the IBF world champion is realistic about his place in the British boxing pecking order.

Hearn told the Free Press he thinks McDonnell is an exciting fighter and a great champion who he would like to work with in the future.

But the Matchroom Boxing chief added the Hatfield fighter would have to build his profile up considerably before he could hope to headline a major show.

“I’d love to have Jamie on one of our bills but there needs to be recognition of his standing before we start serious talks,” Hearn said.

“He’s a world champion and a very good one but unfortunately his profile is poor.

“It might sound harsh but outside of Doncaster and particularly outside of boxing, people don’t really know who he is.

“That shouldn’t be the case because Jamie has great crossover appeal. He’s a good looking kid and he’s a very exciting fighter.

“But he needs to be built up before he is a top draw main eventer and the way to do that is being a part of big shows with TV deals.

“Jamie isn’t going to sell thousands of tickets at this point, even though he is world champion.

“But if he’s built up right then I’m confident he can be a big star.

“He needs to be the chief support for a high-profile fight first and foremost, show people what he’s all about and get his name out there.

“If he carries on the way he has been, then I don’t think it’d take him long to become a real headliner in this country.”

Hearn – who holds virtual exclusivity for boxing on Sky Sports – refused to be drawn on whether he hoped to sign McDonnell to his promotional stable, saying he does not like to speak about fighters currently under contract.

He moved to strongly refute claims in last week’s Free Press by McDonnell’s manager Dennis Hobson about negotiations to get the bantamweight on the same bill as Sheffield’s Kell Brook in October.

“We discussed the possibility of Jamie being on the Sheffield bill but never came close to discussing money,” Hearn said.