Promoter Mick Hennessy intends to bring the final eliminator for the WBC middleweight Championship between Howard Eastman and Jermain Taylor to England after he won the right to promote the contest at the governing body’s recent convention in Thailand.
“I am delighted that the contest between Howard Eastman and Jermain Taylor for the right to fight Bernard Hopkins will take place late this year or very early next,” the Hennessy Sports head said.
“It is a fight I have been looking to make for almost a year now – long before the final eliminator was ordered – as an ideal springboard for Howard Eastman to raise his profile in America.”
History demonstrates that his successful purse bid was the culmination of a long, protracted, effort:
- Towards the end of 2003, Mick Hennessy verbally made an offer of $150,000 to Jermain Taylor’s promoter, DiBella Entertainment, for Taylor to come to England to fight Howard Eastman.
He was verbally informed that Taylor had other commitments, but would be ready to take the fight in early Summer 2004.
- On the 10th June 2004 Hennessy Sports sent a letter to DiBella Entertainment offering Jermain Taylor $220,000 to come to England to fight Howard Eastman.
DiBella Entertainment verbally informed Mr Hennessy that they wanted the fight to take place in the US. Mr Hennessy requested a counter offer. DiBella Entertainment came back with $150,000 for Eastman to travel to America to fight Taylor. Mr Hennessy asked for this in writing – it never arrived.
- In July 2004 the WBC ordered a final eliminator for their middleweight Championship between Howard Eastman and Jermain Taylor to establish the official challenger to Bernard Hopkins. Purse bids were requested by 25th August.
DiBella Entertainment asked for the purse bid to be delayed. Despite the late notice, the WBC obliged, postponing until October 7th for during their convention in Thailand.
- On the 21st September 2004, in an attempt to prevent the need for the purse bid, Hennessy Sports again increased its offer by letter – copied to the WBC- this time to $250,000. There was no reply.
- On October 7th Mick Hennessy – uncomfortable with the way matters were progressing – personally attended the purse bid for the final eliminator and won.
DiBella Entertainment did not bid. WBC President Jose Sulaiman informed the convention afterwards that Lou Dibella had assured him they would participate.
The doubt over this contest going ahead then, centres around Taylor’s willingness to face Eastman.
“It seems they have been trying to delay the inevitable,” Hennessy added. “Why else would they request an extension on the purse bid from the 25th August to the 7th October and then not put in an offer?”
There has already been mention of a possible diversion.
Hennessy continued: “There has been some talk of Jermain Taylor fighting William Joppy. That would just be plain wrong. If Taylor doesn’t want to go the Championship route his team should have pulled him out of the purse bid before it took place.
“In my eyes Taylor needs to stop picking his targets; he has spent too much time fighting blown-up light middleweights and needs a credible opponent now.”
“I don’t feel Joppy is that. When he boxed Howard in 2001 he lost – despite Howard starting slowly – on everyone’s scorecards except the judges.”
“He has only fought twice since; against a little known opponent in 2002 and then Hopkins in 2003, who beat him badly.”
“Howard on the other hand has won eight times, scored six knockouts, reclaimed his European title, defended it three times and last time out dominated Jerry Elliott.”
“If Taylor does withdraw, it will be his loss.”
“Let me make it clear: despite what others have been saying, Eastman-Taylor is a final eliminator for the WBC middleweight title,” Hennessy added. “That means the winner becomes the mandatory to Bernard Hopkins.”
“The fact that Felix Trinidad has now been moved into the WBC’s number one position will not affect this. “
“I was present at the meeting at the convention where Felix Trinidad was installed.”
“I addressed the convention at the time. I explained that I was there personally to submit a purse bid for the final eliminator between their long-standing #1 Eastman and Taylor to establish the mandatory contender to Bernard Hopkins.”
“I asked for reassurance that this contest would not be affected and that the purse bid would still take place, despite rumours to the contrary.”
“In front of the convention, President Jose Sulaiman confirmed that as the contest had already been agreed, Trinidad’s ranking would have no bearing on the situation.”
“That means that if either Howard Eastman or Jermain Taylor withdraws from this final eliminator, the other will automatically be made the official challenger to Bernard Hopkins. I have that in writing from the WBC.”
“Having just attended their excellent convention – for which the theme was ‘Loyalty and Fair Play’ - I know they will stand by their rules and words.”