Eddie Hearn, backed by a brand-new streaming service and$ 1bn, is taking his first steps to conquering America
On a sunny Saturday evening in Chicago, Eddie Hearn parked his cisterns firmly on American boxing’s lawn and testified:” The struggle is on .” Thus the first shots were fired in the sport’s recent- and most exciting- gras war.
Six months ago, Hearn would not have a hope. Not against the muscle of Showtime and Top Rank. But now he comes forearmed with financing of the equivalent of a Gustav Gun after signing a$ 1bn( PS760m) eight-year address the streaming service DAZN( pronounced Da Zone) to stage 16 reveals in the US every year and the other 16 from the UK. And world ambitions.
” I am trying to do what no UK promoter has ever done ,” he says.” Everybody wants us to neglect, just like they did when we came into the UK five or six years ago, but this deal “ve been given” a chance. In six years’ era we want to be the No 1 promoter in America .”
Hearn has never been balk about his ambitions but the occurrence in the Wintrust Arena was a reminder that in America different strokes will be needed for different tribes. Anyone who has watched a Matchroom show in the UK knows they have their finely carolled template down to a tee. The beer flows freely. The breath reek 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 ordeal is intended to be as if in a nightclub or defendant- except that those hurling the perforates are usually wearing gloves.
Understandably, there was not quite the same vibe in Chicago. The venue was two-thirds full, although a crowd of precisely over 6,000 was respectable enough. But only once, when Tomasz Adamek, the former light-heavyweight and cruiserweight world-wide champion, entered the ring to loud patriotic hollers of” Polska !’ Polska !” did the flavour become supercharged.
It did not last long. During the second round Adamek hurled a right fist that appeared to get temporarily lost in the midriff of his 22 -stone opponent Jarrell” Big Baby” Miller. Miller snorted with derision. Been moving. 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, abundance of fund. As he points out, the person or persons behind DAZN are serious actors- including Len Blavatnik, whose net worth of $21 bn forms him the richest humanity in Britain, and the former ESPN president John Skipper. Quickly and calmly 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 sports content from 20,000 boasting events.
The ambition is clear. Joseph Markowski, the elderly vice-president 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 dwellings- and boxing, along with MMA, is a natural entry point.