Eddie Hearn believes the Covid crisis could edge him one step closer to becoming boxing’s Godfather.
The wise guy has long harboured ambitions of taking over the sport and welcoming the warring factions into his Matchroom family.
And with the prospect of rival bosses folding under the financial pressure of the pandemic, Don Hearn senses an opportunity to take boxing into a golden age.
Promotional and TV contracts often prevent the best fighting the best while some divisions have as many as four world champions.
Hearn already plans to establish an undisputed champion in each of the women’s weight classes – and could also plot to do the same with the men.
“For me, the only way I can get the sport to where I want it to be – and that’s as one of the major sports in the world – is to make the best fight the best consistently,” he told Mirror Fighting .
“The only way you’re going to do that is either have promoters work together or have a universal governing body that controls the sport and that’s my aim.
“My aim is to be that individual – to be the UFC of boxing – and that is the only way I can see it getting to the level I want, but if it doesn’t happen, boxing is not dead, it’s not in a bad place.
“One way to do it is for nature to take its course and Covid-19 might speed that process up. By that I mean keep being successful and expanding the business to a point where you are unquestionably the market leader and no-one else is a player.
“With Covid-19 and the changes to the economy, that’s going to happen naturally as well because the companies who are in good shape and running a profit over the years will survive this six or 12 months.
“But the companies who are struggling without that solid foundation are done, really, and you’re going to see a lot of promotional companies fall by the wayside.
“The other way to do it is to speed the process up and buy the companies you need. The only way to do that is with significant investment; it is a big job and involves speaking to people with pride and a huge ego who probably don’t want to leave the sport but this is probably the time to do it.
“This is the best time to strike because some businesses are looking at the future and wondering where they’re going.
“It’s just a pipe dream of mine but before Covid-19, we were expanding into another five territories and making a big global move, which we will do but it’s on the backburner until 2021.”
Boxing has struggled to establish undisputed champions with Oleksandr Usyk in 2019 and Terrence Crawford 2017 the last to hold the honour.
There has been no undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis in 2000 and no middleweight equivalent since Jermain Taylor in 2006.
Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury hope to fight for all four belts next year but their plans could be thwarted by Usyk who is Joshua’s mandatory.
But Hearn’s billion-pound boxing takeover would not necessarily involve creating one world title for each division.
“Belts are steeped in history and when you’re a young fighter you have heroes and you remember them holding the green WBC belt or the red IBF belt and you remember them being undisputed standing there with all the belts,” he added.
“That’s another question around going to a universal business in boxing; do you create your own governing body and how long does it take for that belt to be recognised as the belt in boxing? It’s difficult to start a belt and expect it to have same credibility and legacy that the WBC belt has, for example.
“When people say we need to have one universal belt, I’m not so much geared towards that idea because fighters want to win belts.
“Anthony Joshua wants to be undisputed but he also wants to be the best in the world. This is the big debate at the moment with Oleksandr Usyk when people tell him to just vacate the WBO title.
“We would not let a belt get in the way of Joshua against Fury but if we can keep them all, that is our priority.
“If Joshua beats Fury then he’s the best heavyweight in the world but if he’s not undisputed champion, that matters to him.”
Eddie was talking to Mirror Fighting for the launch of 2K Games’ new Mafia: Definitive Edition, available from today on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC via Steam and Epic Games Store. Mafia: Definitive Edition is a comprehensive, built-from-the-ground-up remake of the original Mafia, featuring all-new gameplay sequences and features, best-in-class cinematics, an updated script filled with rich new dialogue, expanded backstories and additional cutscenes. For more information head to: mafiagame.com/buy