(Interview by Declan Warrington)

BN: You were perhaps the world’s most sought-after free agent. Why is it Matchroom you chose to sign for?

JE: This was the best decision for me right now. I know Eddie will back me 100 per cent, and I’ll put 100 per cent in, and it’s gonna be good – a power duo. It was a lot [of rival offers].

This is gonna lead to me being undisputed, collecting all the belts, and making myself a marquee guy. A mega superstar – so you [rivals] can’t turn down nothing.

BN: How influential was their relationship with your friend Andy Cruz?

JE: I liked how they was moving Andy. I like the things done for him, and how they treat him. He speaks positively about them.

BN: What about the extent to which they promote geographically, and you previously telling Boxing News of your desire to fight in Philadelphia, your home city?

JE: That’s very important – to know that I’ll fight in Philly. It’s been a while – it’s been about six years. The last time I fought in Philly we sold the place out. It was like standing room only – barely, there was nothing. I can’t wait. It’s something that Philly needs. It’s something Philly’s been missing, and this is going to be the first big Philly fight in a long time. I needed a proper homecoming.

I feel like, eventually, there’s a few big fights [destined for Philadelphia], but I’d rather be the first one. So, that’s all that matters.

BN: It was nine months ago when you impressively fought and stopped Roiman Villa. Why have you since had such a low profile?

JE: Just, figuring out things, that’s all. Just figuring out stuff. [I bought a house in late 2023] outside Philadelphia. I mean, it’s nice to have room for myself – it’s something that I needed. It was nice.

BN: Since you last fought the IBF have installed you as their champion… 

JE: It’s definitely not how I wanted it. You know, I’d rather take it from somebody. There’s nothing I can do. I couldn’t say “No”; I couldn’t say “Yes”. They just elevated me up. Nothing I can do, but I’m gonna defend the belt and do what I need to do. I don’t really care what nobody say [laughs] – I ain’t gonna lie. Like, I don’t care what social media say. It don’t fuckin’ bother me.

BN: Do you consider yourself the champion?

JE: I’ve been a champion since I was born.

BN: The IBF stripped Terence Crawford of their title because you were his mandatory challenger but he said that he was committed to a rematch with Errol Spence. How frustrating is it for you to see that rematch not happening?

JE: I wanted that fight. It definitely was – not frustrating, but it was weird. “I don’t know what’s going on.” Boxing is a weird game, but at the end of the day there’s nothing you really can do. You can’t control it, so I’m not going to [try].

BN: Did it make you conclude Crawford didn’t want to fight you?

JE: You said it yourself [laughs]. That’s what it is.

BN: Can the investment in boxing from Saudi Arabia and its growing influence still lead to the two of you fighting?

JE: If it makes a big fight then it makes sense. I’ve always said it don’t matter where it’s at. As long as I’m fighting – I just love fighting. You can see [the way that investment is changing the sport] – you can say.

Most definitely [I’m Crawford’s toughest potential opponent]. I didn’t know how he was going to do the jump [to super middleweight to potentially fight Saul “Canelo” Alvarez]. I didn’t know how he was gonna jump that many weights. I didn’t feel no type of way. It’s not really [a mismatch] – Canelo started at 154, and Canelo’s not really a big guy.

BN: Is he the best fighter in the world?

JE: I am.

BN: Cody Crawley is next…

JE: I’m just sitting here waiting. I’m sitting here waiting ‘till they give me a “Go”. He’s a good fighter. But I really don’t care – I don’t care who it is. I just wanna fight in the ring – get back in the ring; get back to doing what I do best. I just want that fight to come.

BN: Not unlike with Crawford and Spence, who do you see becoming your long-term rival?

JE: It was Vergil Ortiz. I think he moved up [to light middleweight]. He was trying to stay in the division, so I’d say Vergil and me still. I’ll definitely get to 154 [in future], for sure.