FOR London caretaker Jim McDonnell Sunday night's fight with Azumah

Nelson at the Royal Albert Hall represents: ''Thirty-six minutes in my

life that can change everything.''

For Barry Hearn it represents the next stage in his bid to become

boxing's ''Mr Big,'' the Lord of the Ring.

Nelson's fourth defence of his WBC super-feather-weight crown is

McDonnell's second and last chance to reach the summit. The first was a

year ago yesterday and he lost on points to WBA holder Brian Mitchell.

It is Hearn's first world-title promotion but he is promising many

more. The next is on November 29 when Michael Watson challenges the WBA

middle-weight champion, Mike McCallum.

The man who made his name and a fortune through snooker has already

found that boxing is a different world -- pulling off the Bruno v Bugner

coup in 1987 taught him that -- but he is determined to dominate it in

just the same way.

He revealed that he is close to concluding what he hopes will be a #2m

two-year sponsorship deal with a replacement window company. They have

already spent that amount in snooker and followed Hearn into boxing by

backing McDonnell's showdown with Barry McGuigan in Manchester in May.

It enabled Hearn to entice Ireland's former world feather-weight

champion into the ring with a #250,000 offer. McDonnell earned #50,000,

the biggest cheque of his career, but the big reward for him was the

fourth-round win which set up this weekend's money-spinning clash with

one of the all-time greats.

Nelson is handled by Don King, boxing's most controversial character,

and Hearn learned this from his protracted dealings. ''It's simple --

you just pay him what he wants.''

Eight hundred of the 5500 tickets, costing up to #200, have still to

be sold and even if, as is likely, they go on the night Hearn says:

''It's such a dear fight that I won't be making much money. But I'll

still be making some.''

He is most eagerly awaiting Sunday as a fight fan rather than as a

profit-making exercise. However, he added: ''I'm hoping for a sell-out,

but for once I don't give a monkey. I would have paid $250,000 to see

Jim get his chance and the only thing that matters is him winning.''

The sponsorship backing is the key to Hearn's plan to stage as many

major shows as he can. ''It's all about having clout behind you,'' added

Hearn. ''It's all very well having the mouth and the wallet, but it's

putting everything together that matters.''

McDonnell, previously under Terry Lawless's wing, joined Hearn's new

Matchroom team after the Mitchell defeat. Before long he was training in

a new #250,000 gym in Romford and now there are 40 other boxers in the


Whatever other promoters may feel and some are anti-Hearn after

comments he made about them everything is going according to plan.

McDonnell's career hangs on the outcome against Nelson, but Hearn

appears to be a certain winner.