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Not sealing Eubank vs Benn trilogy is one of my big regrets but at least I told Don King to f*** off, says Barry Hearn

MILLIONS watched on TV as rivals Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn fought each other twice — in 1990 and 1993 — in a golden time for British boxing.

Barry Hearn, who managed Eubank, had to contend with former Muhammad Ali promoters Bob Arum and Don King muscling in on his UK patch.

Chris Eubank beat Nigel Benn in their first fight before a draw in the rematch as the pair shared a classic rivalry

Barry Hearn reveals all in his new autobiography

Twice the Americans under-estimated Hearn — and twice they paid the penalty . . . 

NIGEL BENN was represented by Bob Arum, the veteran American promoter, and Ambrose Mendy, a wheeler-dealer on the fringes of the British boxing scene.

They had negotiated a good deal for their man.

We paid Benn £300,000 to put his WBO world middleweight title on the line.



Eubank Sr told Hearn he’d been circumcised WITHOUT DRUGS days before fight


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Eubank, the challenger, was to receive £100,000.

Although I was the promoter, I was so anxious to secure the fight that I had conceded almost every demand made by Arum and Mendy for Benn.

I did this for a reason: although Benn was the defending champion, his team hadn’t insisted on options in the contract should Eubank be victorious.

Options are standard practice in big-time boxing.

If your man loses, you’ve an option to force a rematch or take a percentage of the purse from the winner’s next contest.

Arum and Mendy had either forgotten to insist on an options clause or suffered from the greatest sin, complacency.

And when the bell rang at last, I couldn’t resist it.

“You do realise you’re completely f***ed, don’t you?” I said to Arum.

“Why?” he said, taken aback.

“Because you’ve no options and there’s no way we’re going to lose this fight.”

Arum turned to Mendy. “Haven’t we got options?” he asked.

“We don’t need them,” Mendy said.


Big mistake.

The fight went completely to plan.

Benn attacked, slugging, and Eubank countered with a strong defensive guard.

It was punch and counterpunch, hurt and be hurt, a thriller that came to an end when the referee jumped in and stopped it in round nine.

Benn was a mess.

Eubank, who had taken considerable punishment himself, was WBO world middleweight champion.

Rarely in my life have I felt such wild excitement.

Financially, the second Benn-Eubank fight was the biggest promotion staged in Britain up to that point.

We sold 45,000 tickets and the TV ratings were off the scale — somewhere around 18 million viewers live on ITV.


We made a pile of money.

The fight itself, however, was a big disappointment and nowhere near the intensity of the first contest.

Most ringside observers had Benn winning and he was convinced he’d done enough.

But the result was a draw.

It remains one of my major disappointments in boxing that we never got to see a third instalment.

The real barney came in the hotel the next morning when I heard Don King exclaiming in his loud voice that he was now the dominant factor in British boxing, that he had Benn and Eubank and he was going to move a sizeable part of his operation to the UK and take over.

“What are you talking about?” I said.

“Well, you know our deal, Barry. I’ve got Benn and Eubank so I’m going to be taking over the place.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Don. Win or lose, you had Benn and Eubank, that is for sure, that is in the contract I wrote and the contract you signed — but the fight was a draw, so I suggest you f*** off back to America!”

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King was never one for crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s. I am.

That was part of my accountancy training and has always been a strength.

  • My Life: Knockouts, Snookers, Bullseyes, Tight Lines and Sweet Deals, by Barry Hearn, is out on April 28 and available to pre-order now (Hodder & Stoughton, £20).

Hearn and Eubank teamed up during the boxer’s illustrious career

Don King was undone by a clever loophole exploited by Hearn