We talk to promoters Eddie and Kalle ahead of 'Warriors' Call'
Last Updated: 24/05/13 11:49am
Eddie Hearn and and Kalle Sauerland - two big players this weekend (Pic Lawrence Lustig)
Eddie Hearn and Kalle Sauerland have taken similar career paths and followed their fathers into the fight promotion game.
The similarity doesn't stop there, with both men keen boxing fans and good friends with their fighters, Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler.
We take a look at the personalities behind the million dollar smiles...
ROUND 1: When did you you first decide to get involved in boxing?
Eddie: I've been around boxing since I was nine or 10. The first show I went to was my dad's first promotion which was Frank Bruno against Joe Bugner at White Hart Lane. All throughout growing up I was a boxing nerd, because I knew pretty much every fighter in the UK, all their records, everything. Most kids would read the Beano or the Dandy. I would read the Boxing News every night. But even growing up and hanging around the gyms, you don't want to be a boxing promoter, you want to be a boxer.
Kalle: I think the first proper show I actually went to, which was an Henry Masker fight in Germany when I was about 14.
ROUND 2: How did your father influence you growing up?
Eddie: He told me not to get involved. It's a pain in the arse business, it's horrendous. It takes over your life. You're also managing careers and financial demands and expectations. You want to deliver for them. You've got the pressure of your own business to run and the pressure of having to deliver for your fighters. I think he lost a little bit of desire because in the end you think 'do I need this' and in the end the answer is no.
Kalle: I'm always asked were you pushed into boxing or not, but I was born into boxing. I have boxing blood through and through. I started off in football as an agent but I was always one day going to meet the path and here I am.
ROUND 3: Did you have any boxing idols?
Eddie: Within Matchroom I had a lot of idols who you wouldn't necessarily have heard of. People like Paul 'Silky' Jones, Francis Ampofo, Richard Evatt, these guys were people that I used to hang around with after training. I was 14,15 and we would go to get some pasta after training, sit around in Romford eating. To me at the time, they were like my heroes. Sugar Ray Leonard is my greatest fighter of all time. I've had the privilege of meeting him a few times.
Kalle Has to be Marvin Hagler. A big fan. From our camp there is John Mugabi - I used to love him training. George Francis - another one of the greatest trainer's ever. Then you have to throw Mike Tyson in as well. I wasn't untouched by his reign and of course, Muhammad Ali. Then there were the Sugar Ray Leonard, Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran fights in that division and as I grew up in England, the Nigel Benn fights.
ROUND 4: Do you still get star-struck?
Eddie: I met Sugar Ray Leonard when I was quite young and then I met him again at Froch-Bute and I said: "I've got to have a photo." He said: "You're the promoter aren't you. I was like: "Yeah, is that alright?" I must have met Mike Tyson half a dozen times but I saw him in Vegas a couple of years ago and again I'm not mad on asking people for photos, but there's some people I think, I've got to do it.
Kalle: Oh yeah. Last year I went to the Hall of Fame - my dad got in a few years ago - and we go every year and I had the privilege and indeed, one of the biggest privileges as a boxing fan, to have my picture taken with Leonard, Hearns, Hagler and Mugabi in the space of 10 minutes. That was unbelievable.
ROUND 5: Did you ever lace on a pair of gloves?
Eddie: I was 15, I had three fights for Billericay amateur boxing club, won all three. It was terrible. Retired unbeaten, having realised I had absolutely no future in the sport whatsoever. The discipline, the fitness, the training and the respect. I haven't got a son, but if I did I would send him straight to the boxing club. Absolutely no doubt.
Kalle: I did but I was never very successful. My brother Nisse did have a few amateur fights but I was never that good. I did my fare share when it came to boxing, but when it came to it, I didn't really want to get hit.
ROUND 6: Who is the best fighter to promote?
Eddie: Probably Ricky Burns. Somebody told me in the office today, he phoned this morning to 'mention to Eddie about two tickets for the Carl Froch fight. But I know he must be ever so busy, so I didn't want to hassle him so I thought I would call you instead'. The others would be non-stop.
Kalle: I am not just saying because we're over here with him and he's in a huge fight this weekend but Mikkel Kessler. Also Nikolai Valuev was one of the nicest boxer's I've known; he was such a gentleman and all people knew about his height. They thought it was slow, lumbering, but he was far from it.
ROUND 7: And the hardest?
Eddie: Froch can be unbearable at times but we've got a great relationship. Obviously Kell Brook's had his problems that he will try to overcome, but it's a tough sport. Everyone has got to be managed differently. One of our strong points is that we understand young people. I understand what they are going through and the pressures that they are under in their life.
Kalle: Lets put it this way, they were all lovely. I'll leave it at that...
ROUND 8: How do you relax away from boxing?
Eddie: You don't relax really. It's a way of life. I love it and enjoy it so I can't sit here and say that I hate it. It's very difficult with the family because I'm out early and I'm back late and then when I get back, I'm working most of the night. It's not just that you're working all the time, it's that your mind is numb from boxing. For instance my missus can be talking to me and all I'm thinking about is the Carl Froch-Mikkel Kessler fight. She's asking if I've spoken to the gardener about the plants we are getting down the bottom and I'll say: "Sorry what is that." And she'll say: "You're not listening to me are you?"
Kalle: The only answer is I don't. I have a major problem. I have tried, when I go away, booking three weeks because I need a week to wind down, have a weekend "on holiday" and then work keeps creeping back in. The trouble with this world is you can be sitting on a tropical island drinking Margaritos and you'll get that one phone call and the opportunity comes. If you are going to be good at this game, you need to be on the ball 24/7.
ROUND 9: What do you do on the day of the fight?
Eddie: With this, it's high pressure, I've never done a show as big. The biggest fight I've had was Froch-Bute or Kell Brook in front of 9,000. So this is 19,000 well beyond that. We've got a great team, that's always important, we're very hands on. This fight day will be a little bit different because it's so big. We've got Carl, Tony and George, three big fights. Tony Bellew is in a career defining fight. The winner of that will fight either Chad Dawson or Adonis Stevenson for the WBC title. It's a massive fight. George is the favourite, but he's in with a banger.
Kalle: I'm a bag of nerves now and it's only a Thursday! It's today and Friday when I really start to get nervous and I won't sleep on Friday night either, or sleep very badly. I can't hide it either! I grew up being a mad Tottenham fan and even now I just don't know how to deal with my nerves - and they just bring out all my emotion.
ROUND 10: Do you get nervous at ringside?
Eddie: For me some of the greatest times are before the fight when you are in the dressing room. The hands are wrapped, you go in there, and then someone will tell you it's time. Then you hear the final few claps of the hand and 'Go on Carl' and all that stuff. Then the long walk down the corridor. My dad's always said if you can get one per cent of the adrenaline that fighter's get than you'll be a happy man, but I think I get 30 or 40 sometimes. Even if it is only one per cent, what must they been feeling?
Kalle: People often forget that when you are sitting there during a fight, there is a business to this as well. There's revenue; TV, tickets, sponsorship, then there's a cost; fighters, venues etc but if I'm honest, all that has gone out of my mind on fight day. My fighter when he's in there, becomes my best friend and I am behind him 100 per cent and I don't think about what can happen if he wins. Of course that's my job and I have done that in the run-up and I will straight after. But during the fight, I am in the fan zone and I do go a bit mental, so keep your eyes open for that!
ROUND 11: How do you see the fight going?
Eddie: For the first one or two rounds it might be a little bit cagey, but as soon as that first exchange comes in, the other one will stand and trade. The crowd will go mad and it will just go on from there. Carl really deserves to win this fight, I know that doesn't necessarily mean he will but I just think if he does, it will be such a beautiful thing because if he does, he will really have that place in British sport. I think Sports Personality of the Year, all those kind of things.
Kalle: I think it's one of those fights where you just don't know if it's going to be stopped. I can give you a promoter's view, but as a fan this is going to be insane. Whatever happens in this fight will bring madness.
ROUND 12: What will be the final outcome?
Eddie: I watched the first fight back again last night and I think Carl Froch now, compared to Carl Froch then, are totally different fighters and personalties. You had a guy who hadn't got the recognition he deserved, prepared poorly for that fight. And the guy today who has essentially turned into a British hero. He's so fit, so strong and so well prepared. You cannot see him being denied. I think a late stoppage, but I think It's going to be a war.
Kalle: We are going to see Mikkel win again! How he wins I don't know but he does. I have grown a lot of respect for Carl Froch and he's deserved that not just from me but from the fight fans, so I am not going to say Mikkel is going to do a job on him. It is going to be a tough fight, but I am sure he is going to win.