The boxing world is still dealing with the fallout from the BBC’s expose titled Boxing and the Mob, which aired on its flagship documentary series Panorama two weeks ago. The documentary, through interviews with boxing insiders, alleged that Daniel Kinahan—the alleged leader of the Kinahan Organised Crime Group—is a central figure at MTK Global.
MTK began life as Macklin’s Gym Marbella (MGM) and was founded by Kinahan and former boxer Matthew Macklin. Since its creation MTK has swelled its boxing client roster to include Tyson Fury, Carl Frampton, Michael Conlan and Billy Joe Saunders. MTK’s MMA division represents the UFC’s Darren Till as well as Talia Santos, Mounir Lazzez, Mike Grundy, Dusko Todorovic, Su Mudaerji and dozens more fighters.
Since the BBC’s documentary aired, one of the producers involved in the project has had to go into hiding after being informed of a credible threat against his life. In response to this, Kinahan released a rare public statement claiming he would never threaten a journalist and that he completely refutes all the claims made against him by the BBC.
Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn recently shared his reaction to the documentary and its fallout.
“Anything that portrays a negative spin on the sport is bad news for me, is bad news for the sport, any sport,” said Hearn per The Irish Sun.
“The show we saw the other night didn’t tell the hardcore boxing audience anything different because that story has been told,” continued Hearn. “But what it did do was open that story up to a much wider audience, which is not good for boxing because that’s the wider audience that I’m trying to convince to bring into boxing.
“You work and you work and you work and you work and you’re nearly there and then it’s like ‘boxing’s dead, look at these people involved in boxing’ — and that’s what we’re constantly fighting against.”
Hearn worked with Kinahan, a man accused of running a drug and gun trafficking empire worth $1 billion, in order to negotiate a fight between his client Anthony Joshua and MTK’s Tyson Fury.
Hearn said he was directed to work with Kinahan, despite MTK’s long held claims that Kinahan was not involved with the company. The official line from MTK has been that Kinahan ceased working with them since at least 2016. That’s the year that gunman attacked one of their weigh-ins at Dublin’s Regency Hotel. Reportedly that attack was designed to kill Kinahan. Kinahan moved to Dubai shortly after the incident.
When asked by BBC 5 Live Sport about whether he could have done the Joshua-Fury deal, which is set to be the biggest fight in British boxing history, without Kinahan, Hearn said; “No.”
Eddie Hearn here telling @5liveSport Boxing that Fury v Joshua fight could not have been made without Daniel Kinahan’s influence:
“No, because that’s Fury’s advisor” he tells Mike Costello.
“We were told to deal with [him] to make that fight”
At 28.30” https://t.co/tMPU0t57ch pic.twitter.com/89SmCzCZGt
— Dan Roan (@danroan) February 12, 2021
“No, because that’s Fury’s advisor,” claimed Hearn. “That’s his team and obviously promoters deal with promoters and fighters have their team of managers and lawyers and advisors and we were told to deal with Daniel Kinahan to make that fight, initially. Then there was a backlash and those reins were passed over to Bob Arum.
“He’s been an important part of Team Fury for a long time and when you are dealing with making a big fight you have to deal with that team that that fighter has put together and the person that the responsibility has been given to. That was the representative that Tyson Fury had. Of course, he’s represents other fighters as well. And it’s a case by case basis to deal with a team that a fighter has assembled to get a fight done.”
The backlash against Kinahan began last year when Fury released a video on twitter announcing that the deal to fight Joshua was done. In that video Fury repeatedly thanked Kinahan.
Ireland’s government responded to this by pressuring boxing broadcasters to boycott the fight. Ireland’s then Head-of-State Leo Varadkar also said that his government had contacted their counterparts in the United Arab Emirates to discuss Kinahan.
After this MTK, whose story that Kinahan had not been involved with them or their fighters was blown to pieces by Fury’s announcement, declared that Kinahan would be stepping away from boxing.
Fury, and his US promoter Bob Arum, also announced they would no longer deal with Kinahan.
However, in his recent statement Kinahan maintained that he will continue working in boxing and working with fighters.
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