AS Dereck Chisora and Oleksandr Usyk prepared to square up to one another in the press conference before their October bout, a 6ft 5in figure in a smart, fitted suit loomed next to them.
After their original May fight was scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic, Eddie Hearn, 41, was influential in rearranging the dust-up between the pair at Wembley Arena.
The Dagenham-born promoter is the group managing director of Matchroom Sport, as well as director of the Professional Darts Corporation.
Family man Hearn, estimated to be worth £40m, knows a good earner when he sees one.
And after expertly guiding the career of Anthony Joshua to signing boxing’s first ever billion dollar deal, he’s certainly come a long way from the 15-year-old who was selling double-glazing in Essex on £3 an hour.
Hearn, the son of promoter Barry Hearn who famously swelled the coffers of boxers including Frank Bruno, Lennox Lewis, Chris Eubank, and Nigel Benn – went to posh Brentwood High School.
But, in truth, he struggled academically. When he flunked his GCSEs, he failed to get into sixth form.
His father pleaded with the school to allow Eddie to stay on because of his prowess in cricket and football, but it was no use.
“I grew up thinking I was a hard nut, and in Brentwood School I was,” he once said. “Anywhere else I was a pansy.”
Hearn went to the less selective Havering Sixth Form College in Romford to study A-levels in media studies, PE, and business studies.
He was on a promise from his dad of £1,000 if he got a C or better in his exams. Hearn scored two Cs and one A.
AMATEUR BOXING TO SHIFTING WINDOWS
Eddie initially thought about pursuing a career in boxing.
He fought in an amateur fight as Eddie Hills, amusingly because his dad didn’t want him to get a pasting because of the family name.
But sales was where he belonged, with a gift-of-the-gab inherited from his old man.
“I worked for Weatherseal in Romford. I’d go there after college at night and do telesales,” he told The Guardian.
“It’s the worst job in the world but the best training for sales.
“For every rejection we had an answer on a list – from ‘I’ve just lost my husband,’ to ‘I’ve just done my double-glazing.’
“We always had a reason to make an appointment.”
A SPORTING CHANCE
At 18, Hearn had scored a work experience with Richard Busby and BDS Sponsorship, and was later employed full-time.
Then, his life took a different trajectory.
A call from a recruiter head-hunting for a senior position at the sports agency LEA offered him an interview.
Naturally, Hearn impressed in the interview and within three years he had clients including Ian Botham, as well as several high-profile golfers.
His father Barry, who built an empire with Matchroom Sport in the 1980s through snooker, had a masterplan.
He invited his son onboard for a subdivision called Matchroom Golf.
Then he turned to cards, with the group promoting the Poker Million final to an audience of 30 million people, which is where they cornered the market.
A BOXING BREAK
A chance meeting with fallen champ Audley Harrison was the catalyst for Matchroom Boxing, that now houses Hearn’s prized possessions.
The pair were sat on a poker table together, when the heavyweight boxer asked Hearn for his help.
“I was playing in the World Series of Poker and happened to be drawn on the same table as Audley, who asked if he could get on a Matchroom show,” Hearn said.
“So I phoned up the old man and told him: ‘I think we can do something with Audley.’
“The phone went stone quiet. Then he said: ‘You’re on your own, I’m going nowhere near him.’”
Eddie put Harrison on Prizefighter, which he duly won.
And then got him a European title show, in which the Londoner defeated Michael Sprott in 2010.
Incredibly, that earned Harrison a WBA title fight with David Haye.
Harrison was knocked out in the third round, but it put Hearn on the map.
“Those days are fun because it’s just you against the world,” Hearn told Square Mile.
“No one really knows who you are. You’re just this kid whose blagging it. It’s fun, then.
“Doesn’t come with the pressures and responsibilities and aggravation now. I weren’t a threat.”
Since 2012, Hearn has built up a stable of boxers renowned around the world that are box office draws.
It’s afforded him the luxury of offices at the family’s Brentwood estate to a plush floor at New York’s One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
He really is on top of the world.
In 2018, Hearn scored the deal of all deals that’ll see him split more time between the UK and America.
DAZN offered Matchroom Boxing $1billion (the highest deal in boxing ever) to stream 16 fights in America, and a further 16 in the UK.
“HBO and Showtime are the two major players over here,” Hearn said.
“And that is a bigger annual budget than they have put together. It’s the biggest deal in boxing history.”
And Hearn has put pressure on himself to make it work.
“We were dangerous before, now we’re unstoppable and that’s the difference,” he said. “And if I don’t make this work, I’ve failed miserably.”
Behind every great man is a better woman. Chloe Hearn is the matriarch of the family, and mother of their daughters Sophia and Isabella.
She used to be famous in Essex for owing a beauty salon with TOWIE star Chloe Sims, and it regularly appeared on the reality TV show.
However, it officially closed its doors and soon Chloe became a wife in Bel-Air, where she spends most of her time in their LA home.
It’s a tough life for the Hearns.