Eddie Hearn admits he was left extremely frustrated after seeing Jono Carroll [16(3)-0-1] slip through his fingers back in 2016 but has backed the Irishman to claim world honours in Philadelphia in March.
The Dubliner challenges IBF super featherweight champion Tevin Farmer [28(6)-4(2)-1] at the Liacouras Centre on Friday March 15th in what is the latest fight of a topsy-turvy relationship with Hearn’s Matchroom outfit.
Carroll, from the away corner, scored a massive win over Deco Geraghty on the Matchroom ‘Return of the Mack’ card in Dublin in November 2014 and followed this up a month later with a sensational victory as a rank outsider in Prizefighter Lightweights.
A link-up with Matchroom followed but things did not go as they should have.
A ‘five fights per year’ promise was not fulfilled and ‘King Kong’ fought just four times under the banner, thrice in 2015 including a short-notice appearance on the Wladimir Klitschko v Tyson Fury undercard, and once in 2015. The Finglas-Dunshaughlin fighter would leave Hearn and manager-coach Packy Collins a few months following his win over Jordan Ellison in May 2016 and he would link up with Mack The Knife Global.
Three quick-fire wins would follow before Carroll stepped up to title level, defeating Johnny Quigley in June 2017 to claim the IBF European title and following this up with an IBF Inter-Continental title win over Humberto De Santiago that November. After a defence versus Marco McCullough fell through following injury, Carroll would rematch and definitively end his rivalry with Deco Geraghty.
All these title fights played out in Belfast, with the Quigley bout on BoxNation and the following contests featuring in massive Odyssey shows live on BT Sport as part of Frank Warren’s deal with the broadcaster – although Carroll was not believed to be formally tied to the Queensberry boss.
Now highly-ranked with the IBF, Carroll would re-sign with Matchroom and bring to an end – for Hearn – a nervous few years.
The English promoter recalled how “I saw him a while ago win our Prizefighter tournament, and we had him on our show in Dublin. A fantastic talent.”
“Unfortunately, for some strange reason, he ended up going with another promoter. And I was watching him on TV and every time I was watching him I was sitting there with my voodoo doll, and I was thinking: ‘Lose, ya bastard! Lose!’ But he wouldn’t; he kept on winning, and he kept on climbing up the IBF rankings.”
While he, tongue-in-cheek, wanted Carroll to lose, Hearn is a big fan of the bearded 26-year-old.
A big character, who loves to entertain, talk and of course fight – the southpaw is a promoter’s dream.
“He’s got a massive personality and he can really fight.”
“He’s now got a huge following in the UK, in Ireland, because he’s a massive personality.”
“We have a saying in England: I don’t know if we’re allowed to say it here or if it’s rude… But he’s full of spunk. What that means is he has a big, big set of cojones.”
Having worked with the Lou DiBella-promoted Farmer in recent bouts Hearn may not be too negatively affected regardless of the result in the the title fight, but the voodoo doll has certainly been binned.
The promoter, who also works Ireland’s reigning world champions Katie Taylor and TJ Doheny as well as Ryan Burnett, has an exclusive deal with Carroll, so may be leaning for an Irish win – and thinks it will take a lot from Farmer to stop it happening.
“These two [Carroll and Farmer] have been going at it on social media non-stop, and now Jono Carroll sits one fight away from winning the IBF super-featherweight championship of the world. I know this man has massive, massive dreams, and it’s going to take a lot to beat him on 15 March.”
“There’s going to be huge Irish support in the arena, there’s going to be huge Philly support.”