Eddie Hearn refused to sign Tyson Fury in 2017 due to uncertainty over how quickly he would return to title contention.
The Matchroom Boxing boss famously met with the current world heavyweight champion in Monaco at a time when he weighed 26-stone and had been out of the ring for over a year.
Fury was struggling with his mental health at the time, and was still yet to fully kickstart his comeback, which saw him fight for Deontay Wilder’s belt after just two tune-up fights.
And Hearn says that he would have made a more concrete offer to sign Fury had he known that there would be a title fight within the year of his return.
“It’s hard because AJ is a close friend of mine,” Hearn explained. “I always wanted them two to fight have AJ be our guy and I could just imagine beating him.
“With Tyson, I flew him out to Monaco and he was about 26-stone,” Hearn said on the Boxing Social podcast. “He was sweating, and I just thought to myself ‘you ain’t ever fighting again’.
“So the plan was to have two easy fights, by that we meant the likes of Sefer Seferi which he did, but then have a step-up and fight like Manuel Charr.
“I was just thinking… If I had known that he would fight Sefer Seferi, someone else and then Deontay Wilder I would have been all over it.”
And while the Matchroom Boxing boss doesn’t regret turning down the chance to work with Fury, he says he would have loved to have been involved in his famous trilogy with Wilder.
Fury battled Wilder to a draw in their 2018 bout before changing his training team to knock the American out in their next two fights in Las Vegas.
“I don’t have regret,” Hearn insisted. “But would I have love to have been involved in Fury-Wilder? Of course, that’s my bread and butter!
“That’s what I live for, but at the same time I know we had Dillian Whyte and Derek Chisora and those kinds of people but it would have been a really awkward situation to try and have both Fury and AJ.
“You can’t say you wouldn’t respect a fighter and a character like Tyson Fury because he’s become a big star.”
Hearn and Fury have at times been at loggerheads, particularly after the deal for a potential undisputed title fight between he and Joshua fell through last summer.
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But the promoter has to accept that Fury’s return to form is worthy of a deep respect, given where he has returned from in the second part of his career.
“I have a huge amount of respect for Tyson Fury,” Hearn continued. “People sometimes get it mixed because he’ll say this and I’ll say that, but this is a guy that did what most couldn’t do.
“He got himself from a physical position where he was finished, done, to get back to not just being fighting fit, but he went and won the world heavyweight championship.
“I never really say anything bad about Tyson Fury, sometimes I’ve thought he was the best heavyweight in the world and he’s gone on to prove that right now, on paper, he’s the number one heavyweight in the world.
“I don’t mind saying it, I respect people that go on and achieve success and greatness.
“He is on another team, I guess you could call it that, but he proved me wrong.