- Jun 5, 2013
In the 17th century, French mathematician, Blaise Pascal, devised an argument based on probability theory and game theory as for why one should live as if God exists; the so-called 'Pascal's Wager'. Pascal's argument is that the best course of action is to believe in God regardless of any lack of evidence, because that option gives the biggest potential gains; at worst, you have lost (practically) nothing.
Achieving the 'biggest potential gains' is at the heart of any gambler's philosophy and few promoters are prepared to roll the die like Eddie Hearn, whose promotional strategy appears rooted in the four hundred year old, philotheological formulation. The usual course of action for a fighter coming off a big loss is to take some time out, climb back in the ring with a sub-par opponent and get back in the win column; a bout oft-described as a 'tune up'. So, when Hearn concluded a deal to bring the then undefeated Lucian Bute over to the UK to defend his IBF title against Carl Froch, more than eyebrow or two were raised. Talk of Froch's retirement surfaced before the fight with Hearn telling BBC Sport, "[Froch]'s told me 'I have to win this fight', and that's a different mentality to what he's had before. He knows the score, a loss here would be a disaster. This is probably his last opportunity to win the world title back." However, Hearn's gamble paid off handsomely as the Cobra put on a career best performance to rip Bute's title away in devastatingly spectacular fashion, catapulting the Nottingham man back into the upper echelons of the sport. Had Froch lost, he would still have been a popular fighter and in the mix at world level but instead Hearn now had a world champion with box office appeal to promote.
Hearn's high risk strategy has not always yielded success and praise for Hearn, with fighters like Lee Purdy, Brian Rose and Gavin Rees falling short in their tilts for world titles. Understandably, much criticism has been made of Hearn's matchmaking in this regard, with a number of Matchroom fighters being dubbed of 'Eddie's Expendables' and questions raised over whether Hearn has placed his own profit margin above his fighters health, by sending them abroad to receive potentially career shortening beatings in exchange of sums of money that aren't exactly life changing.
However, as every inveterate gambler likes to think, each loss only brings you closer to that next big win and boy, did Hearn win big last Saturday night, when perennial #1 contender, Kell Brook, overcame Shawn Porter to upset the odds and lay claim to a portion of the welterweight crown. That Brook travelled to America and won a decision has only added more weight to the magnitude of becoming world champion, with many pre-fight analysts reasoning that Brook's odds of winning on the scorecards were reduced by being the away fighter.
In succeeding on American soil, Brook achieved the dual objective of becoming a world champion and raising his stateside profile, catapulting the Sheffield man into the upper echelons of the welterweight division. Had Brook lost the split decision, he is young enough at 28 years old to come again and would have done enough to have shown that he was capable of mixing it up at world level; as it is, Hearn now has another world champion to promote.
Like Pascal before him, Hearn is not without his critics but with nights like last Saturday that will live long in the memory, Eddie's wager is at least proof of the existence of the boxing gods. MK