The Madness Of Mick Hennessy

Posted: January 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

By George Ogier

Seventy Three seconds. The period of time that elapsed before the space shuttle Challenger exploded after launch. Season 12, Episode 1 of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is titled 73 Seconds. The same time frame can also be used to measure exactly how long it takes to terrify boxing promoter, Mick Hennessy.

Hennessy is the man behind British heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury’s bumpy rise to domestic fame. He will have been an interested observer of events in Liverpool on Saturday. David Price took a mere one minute and thirteen seconds to destroy John McDermott in an eliminator to see who will challenge for Fury’s crown. The result of that fight immediately had the boxing world buzzing with talk of a Tyson Fury v. David Price showdown. Unfortunately for Fury and Hennessy though, the general consensus seems to be that a fight between the two men heavily favours Price. If the fight does happen and David Price were to triumph over Tyson Fury, where would that leave Mick Hennessy?

Little over a year ago Hennessy Sports had a portfolio containing some of British boxing’s brightest talents. Hennessy had guided super middleweight star, Carl Froch into the inaugural Super Six World Boxing Classic. Indeed, Hennessy had an important role in getting the competition off the ground. Darren Barker had boxing fans and commentators alike purring over his undoubted ability as he claimed the European middleweight title. Barker wasn’t the only European Champion on Hennessy’s books either. The tough Mancunian, John Murray also won the European crown under Mick’s promotional banner. Even recently dethroned British welterweight champion Lee Purdy was once a Hennessy Sports fighter. Each of these boxers decided to move on and leave Hennessy Sports. There would to be a constant and common thread among Froch, Barker and Murray though. It seems as though they jumped ship in order to get bigger fights.

One of the biggest criticisms levelled at Mick Hennessy was his handling of Carl Froch’s career. For a time Froch had one of the longest unbeaten stretches in British boxing. He was a world champion and had been in some fantastic fights. The biggest problem was that few people outside boxing knew about Froch, he had no discernible public profile. This became a huge issue when Hennessy  failed to strike a TV deal for Carl’s fight with Jermain Taylor. Froch can’t be blamed for wanting to finish his career with big money fights on a reputable TV channel. This must have formed a large part of his reasoning when jumping ship to join Eddie Hearn at Matchroom Sports.

It was a similar story for Darren Barker and John Murray. Both men were successful at European level but were plagued by long stretches of inactivity for various reasons. Since moving on to their new promoters, Barker to Matchroom and Murray to Frank Warren Promotions, both men have fought for world titles. There would appear to be a pattern forming in that fighters under Mick Hennessy’s guidance don’t have a particularly strong profile beyond domestic boxing.

Despite losing three of the biggest names in British boxing to rival promoters is it all bad news for Hennessy Sports? The simple answer would probably be no, but scratch under the surface a little and what does Mick really have to offer these days. Sheffield featherweight prospect Kid Galahad is  a Hennessy fighter and coming along nicely. Mick also pulled off a huge coup in signing Chris Eubank Jr to a long promotional deal. Much had been made of Eubank Jr’s switch to the professional ranks. For him to sign with Hennessy Sports could be fantastic for both parties. This is down to a combination of the boxer’s family name, Eubank Jr’s reported boxing ability and Hennessy’s deal to show live boxing on Channel 5.

Mick Hennessy’s agreement with Channel 5 is possibly the jewel in the Hennessy Sports crown. It means that Mick is the only major promoter in the UK with fights on terrestrial television. At a time when boxing fans are starting to grow restless about the amount of money they pay to watch boxing on TV it showed great commercial sense.

The arrangement with Channel 5 is centred on the career of Hennessy’s most well-known fighter, Tyson Fury. This could be the crux of any future problems for Hennessy Sport. Kid Galahad and Chris Eubank Jr are unproven prospects but Tyson Fury is the British champion. Unfortunately Mick sometimes gives the impression that he’s clinging to Fury like a drowning man with a lifebelt.

Tyson Fury could be described as enigma. With his traveller background and fighting family name he was always going to stand out from the crowd. Fury has become a figure of fun for some despite remaining unbeaten and becoming the British title holder. A lot of the jokes made at Fury’s expense are as a result perceived weaknesses in his boxing skills. However, many of the jokes come from the fact that Mick Hennessy has made some ridiculously outlandish remarks in reference to his number one boxer.

Hyperbole is not a new thing amongst boxing promoters. It is the job of such people to make their fighter sound like an amalgamation of Muhammad Ali, The Incredible Hulk and Billy Whizz. When these statements stray into the frankly implausible though it can cause more damage than good. In the past Mick Hennessy has described Tyson Fury as both “the most exciting boxer in the world” and “the most talked about boxer in the world”. The first claim borders on daft but the second one is outright rubbish. Tyson Fury may be reasonably well-known but to claim that he is the most talked about boxer in the world just insults the intelligence of the fans.

Hennessy is no less delusional when it comes to the subject of Fury’s future. A year ago Mick claimed, with a straight face, given time Fury, “won’t just make up the numbers with the Klitschkos, he’ll beat the pair of them”. All of this talk just serves to make Hennessy look like he’s losing his marbles. The icing on this almost sad cake was Hennessy’s adrenaline-fuelled outburst after Fury had made heavy work of beating unheralded Canadian journeyman Neven Pajkic. We were told that we had just witnessed a Hagler versus Hearns battle for the heavyweight division! What we had in fact seen was two out of shape men swinging punches like it was closing time outside the local pub.

I am sure Mick Hennessy is probably a thoroughly decent man who is trying to earn a living form one of the hardest games around. Regrettably though he is currently exuding the air of a man whose empire is collapsing around his ears. Were Tyson Fury to take on David Price and lose his British title you would have to wonder if Hennessy has the stomach to go through it all one more time.

  1. Glyn Leach says:

    At some point the fighters have to accept some responsibility for their failure to catch on with the public. Carl Froch and Darren Barker were hardly hidden under a bushel when with Hennessy, they headlined shows on BBC and ITV and Sky.

    Froch-Pascal drew a phenomenal viewing figure on ITV and was Fight of the Year quality, yet still Carl didn’t catch on; Darren was often used as an on-camera ringside pundit by ITV for Hennessy shows, but still he didn’t catch on with the public. They had the exposure but the public just didn’t take to them as personalities. Hennessy can’t be blamed for that. The horse was led to water, it just didn’t drink. This despite the obvious quality as fighters of Froch, Barker and Junior Witter, another who became a world champion under Hennessy.

    As far as I can see there is no evidence yet that Carl or Darren have become more marketable since joining Eddie Hearn, under whom they have both lost world title fights in America on Sky. Hearn indisputably is the most media aware of all the British promoters, but we have not had opportunity to see how many bums they put on seats in Britain (although Matchroom are said to have lost big money on the one Barker fight they have promoted in the UK). Hearn has provided them with excellent exposure, but on a vastly more limited TV platform than Hennessy provided (a good SS boxing figure is around 200,000 whereas an average terrestrial figure is closer to two million), but as yet there is no way of telling whether or not that exposure translates to popularity.

  2. Ben says:

    Good article, but can a 16-0 fighter (in the case of Pajkic) really be described as a ‘journeyman’?

  3. Jetset78 says:

    Very good read. Whilst Pajkic may not be considered a journeyman (yet) he was certainly unproven and had never fought outside of Canada. He also knocked down Fury, clearly looking to improve on his 16 wins with 5 KO record.

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