Eddie Hearn, backed by a brand-new streaming service and$ 1bn, is taking his first steps to suppressing America
On a breezy Saturday evening in Chicago, Eddie Hearn parked his tanks firmly on American boxing’s lawn and proclaimed:” The struggle is on .” Thus the first shots were fired in the sport’s latest- and most interesting- turf war.
Six months ago, Hearn would not have a hope. Not against the muscle of Showtime and Top Rank. But now he comes armed with financing of the equivalent of a Gustav Gun after signing a$ 1bn( PS760m) eight-year deal with the streaming service DAZN( pronounced Da Zone) to stage 16 sees in the US every year and the other 16 from the UK. And global ambitions.
” I am trying to do what no UK promoter has ever done ,” he says.” Everybody wants us to fail, just like they did when we came into the UK five or six years ago, but this slew “ve been given” an opportunity. In six years old’ experience we want to be the No 1 promoter in America .”
Hearn has never been shy about his ambitions but the contest in the Wintrust Arena was a reminder that in America different strokes will be needed for different kinfolks. Anyone who has watched a Matchroom show in the UK knows they have their finely carolled template down to a tee. The brew flows freely. The breath reeks of testosterone and, as the main event nears, the White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army and Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline whip the crowd into frenzy. The knowledge is intended to be as if in a nightclub or party- except that those throwing the perforates are generally wearing gloves.
Understandably, there was not quite the same vibe in Chicago. The venue was two-thirds full, although a gang of merely over 6,000 was respectable enough. But only once, when Tomasz Adamek, the former light-heavyweight and cruiserweight world endorse, entered the ring to loud patriotic calls of” Polska !’ Polska !” did the environment grown supercharged.
It did not last long. During the second round Adamek shed a right fist that appeared to get temporarily lost in the midriff of his 22 -stone antagonist Jarrell” Big Baby” Miller. Miller snorted with mockery. Moved closer. And then short-circuited Adamek’s appreciations with a nasty, uncouth and short uppercut.
But Hearn has abundance of time to find the magic formula and, crucially, spate of coin. As he points out, the people behind DAZN are serious players- including Len Blavatnik, whose net worth of $21 bn obligates him the richest mortal in Britain, and the former ESPN president John Skipper. Quickly and quietly they have established themselves in Canada, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Japan to the extent that this year they are able to stream 150 million hours of plays content from 20,000 boasting events.
The ambition is clear. Joseph Markowski, the elderly vice-chairman of DAZN North America, said:” We want to do for sports what Spotify has done for music and Netflix has done for TV .”
To do that they need to break into American homes- and boxing, together with MMA, is a natural entering point.