talkSPORT host Simon Jordan has hit back at boxing promoter Eddie Hearn after his ‘moral lecture’ on Saudi Arabia.
Hearn promotes Anthony Joshua’s rematch with Oleksandr Usyk in Jeddah this Saturday, live on talkSPORT.
Fighters and promoters are facing questions about “sportswashing” for accepting Saudi Arabia’s offer to host the fight.
Many believe the fight is part of a wider attempt to whitewash the Kingdom’s questionable reputation through sport, bringing the same accusations to Newcastle United and LIV Golf.
Hearn has always maintained that it was his job to secure his clients the biggest payday possible, given the short span of a boxing career.
Yet in recent weeks the chairman of Matchroom Sport has launched a defense of Saudi Arabia and its investment in boxing.
“Now we have to deal with a bigger social issue, which is the issue of change,” Hearn said in July.
“We have seen the change there. I was in Saudi Arabia – Jeddah – last week. The change from what I saw two years ago in this country since the Andy Ruiz fight is substantial.
“Also [Saudi Arabian officials] tell me things that interest me. Investment in sport in the country. Investment at the local level.
“Our government could learn a lot from how Saudi Arabia has invested in the boxing base there. It’s over 300% participation in amateur boxing clubs since the Ruiz fight. There’s a real interest in sports.
“Of course, if you see that, it will motivate people to do it. Need more change? Tons of that. Is there any change? I see him.
“These people have already delivered it. They are people who are passionate about boxing.
Former Crystal Palace owner Jordan insists there is an argument to suggest Saudi Arabia is trying to improve the indoor sporting landscape as a separate motive for ‘sportswashing’.
However, he disputes Hearn’s assumption of high moral standards when his decision was based on money.
Jordan told talkSPORT: “I think that’s a bit rich of Eddie. The only reason he’s there is because he’s being paid an inordinate amount of money and that he earns an inordinate amount of money.
“I think he should go back a bit because there’s a lot of ingenuity.
“There are a lot of things about Saudi Arabia that should trouble a lot of people. Eddie sitting there suggesting he can lecture people?
“Of course, we need more investment in this country. We know that the investment structure of many things, whether it’s sports or health care, leaves a lot to be desired.
“But I really don’t think we need an Eddie Hearn sermon. I really don’t think he’s the moral compass on this argument. He would go anywhere if there was a pound note at the end.
“So with the utmost respect, that is to say none, he should vent it. If you want to sit there blowing smoke on a crown prince’s butt all afternoon, that’s your business.
“But don’t start lecturing the rest of the world on how they should see things. Do you want to finance mass boxing? Put your hand in your pocket! You have made millions through boxing.
“It bothers me. It’s one thing to suggest that Saudi Arabia is a great place for boxing and to understand that Saudis are developing the sport for their own people, pushing back against the argument that it’s one thing and a single thing.
“But let’s stop the comparison. It’s stretching the envelope. That’s a bit too much of you because the only reason you’re here is for the money.
Jordan added: “The central theme, let’s be honest, is that they can leverage the sport and use it to position their opportunities for tourism and global influence.
“Sport is a huge emotional lever that you can pull. It’s not in Saudi Arabia for any reason other than the highest bidder.
“It doesn’t crack with the authenticity of boxing in this country or in America. We won’t overcome it because sport is like a moth to the light, it runs to the pound.
“I’m not going to lecture on morals, and no one in this country should do Hearns.”
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