Eddie Hearn says he’s had 12-20 superstar fighters show interest in new DAZN deal
By Scott Gilfoid: Matchroom Boxing USA promoter Eddie Hearn says he’s had calls from 12 to 20 “superstar” fighters interested in his new $1 billion deal with DAZN. Hearn doesn’t say whether he’s signed any of them, but he’s reportedly signed a 3-deal with former WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Hearn needs sign a lot of top American superstar fighters quick to help fill the 16 dates that he has for his DAZN streaming deal. Hearn needs to get big enough names for the American boxing fans to want to pay to subscribe with his new streaming platform with DAZN. Hearn has his work cut out for him with boxing fans already being asked to pay to see fights on ESPN, Showtime and HBO. The fans are being tapped out for fights that frequently don’t provide great value.
”We’ve had 150 calls. 50 of them are people looking for jobs from the industry,” Hearn said to 3 Knockdown Rule podcast. “It’s really flattering really, because there are a lot of great people in the industry that are saying they want to be a part of this. Of the fighters that have called us up, we’ve probably had a dozen or 20 big names, superstars, I guess you can call them, interested to find out. We had probably 30 calls from fighters that weren’t relative to what we were looking for. There have been a lot of young fighters as well,” Hearn said.
It appears that Hearn is trying to shut down the massive amount of criticism he’s been receiving since he made the deal with DAZN. Fans think Hearn is going to sign a bunch of reject boxers that no one will be interested in paying to see. Hearn’s signing of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. confirms the critic’s negative predictions. Hearn is trying to put a positive spin on what thus far has been a slow start for him. Hearn signing Chavez Jr. already has a lot of boxing fans seeing the British promoter as ‘desperate’ and ‘completely clueless.’ Hearn is going to need to sign much better fighters than Chavez Jr. to get fans to open up their wallets and subscribe to new streaming deal. Another fighter that Hearn is interested in signing is Adrien Broner, who is looking well past it lately in a recent loss to Shawn Porter and a 12 round draw against Jessie Vargas. Broner might be a little too high priced for even Hearn, who has $1 billion from the DAZN deal that he needs to space out for 8 years.
Hearn has a lot of money to work with, but the money will go quickly if he overpays faded fighters like Broner.
It’s unclear whether DAZN has an opt out clause in the contract with Hearn if he fails to bring in the subscribers. If this thing doesn’t make money, then it’s not going to be a good thing for DAZN. Selecting a promoter is new to promoting in the U.S market probably wasn’t the wisest thing for DAZN to do. You would think they would want to select someone from the States that is familiar with who the boxing fans would be willing to pay to see. Hearn choosing to sign Chavez Jr. suggests that he doesn’t understand who the U.S fans are interested in seeing. Chavez Jr. is someone that some fans wanted to see six years ago, but his career has imploded since his loss to Sergio Martinez in 2012.
“It means there’s a new player in town,” Eddie Hearn said about his new promotional deal DAZN. “This is heavy pressure for us. The onus is on me. This is a big job, a big test. A lot of people want to see us fail, especially on the promotional side.”
It’s a lot harder for Hearn to do in the U.S what he’s done in the UK, because there isn’t one network that dominates for boxing like there is in the UK with Sky. Hearn has exclusive deal with Sky over there, and that has enabled him to sign British fighters Anthony Joshua, Tony Bellew, Carl Froch [now retired], Amir Khan, Kell Brook, Ryan Burnett, Josh Kelly, Kal Yafai, Dillian Whyte, Scott Quigg, and Jamie McDonnell. Hearn has signed a lot of the top guys in the UK, thanks to his exclusive deal with Sky. It’s going to be impossible for Hearn to do the same thing in the U.S without throwing huge money at all the top fighters that aren’t under a promotional contract. But if Hearn is going to waste the money by signing shot fighters that are many years past their prime, then he’s not going to get the subscribers he needs to make this deal DAZN work. Hearn says the superstars have been calling him. Why isn’t he calling them? That’s the big question that needs to be asked. If Hearn is going to be successful with this streaming deal, he’s going to have to do the leg work to get the top fighters to with him.
Personally, I think Hearn is over extended with him having to juggle dealing with Matchroom Sport in the UK, and now Matchroom Sport USA. It’s a lot to handle, and I don’t see him hiring a bunch of new people that he can delegate authority to in the way that Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions has done with GB president Eric Gomez. Hearn can’t be everywhere at once. He needs to hire a lot of new staff that can make the phone calls to sign the stars. More importantly, Hearn needs to know which fighters are worth signing, so he doesn’t ink a bunch of has-beens.
”Networks need to align with one promoter,” Hearn said. ”Sometimes fans don’t like it, but all the promoters are in some ways are working against each other. So to be working on the same platform, it just doesn’t work. Showtime has an affiliation with Al Haymon. DAZN is exclusive with us. HBO is doing a bit of everything. ESPN is exclusive with Top Rank. I think that’s the way to go. May the best man win,” Hearn said.
Hearn is clearly bumping his head against reality here. He wishes that the networks would just align themselves to one promoter, namely him, so he can have the same kind of exclusive power deal like he has in the UK with Sky. Things would be so easy for Hearn if all the networks – ESPN, HBO and Showtime – would all use him Matchroom Boxing USA promotion as their exclusive source for their fights. If Hearn could be the only promotional company to provide boxing entertainment to all of those networks, he would be swimming in the dough, just like in the UK with his deal with Sky. That’s probably never going to happen. Hearn doesn’t have enough fighters that the U.S boxing fans want to see, so if any of the networks sign an exclusive deal with him, the ratings are likely going to drop if all he has to show the fans are fighters from the UK, and guys like Amir Khan, Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller, Chavez Jr., and Daniel Jacobs. Hearn doesn’t have enough fighters for a network in the U.S to align with his promotional company. If they did align with him, they probably watch their ratings drop off the side of a cliff almost immediately.
“We need to grow from the ground up,” Hearn said. ”The fighters want to know about the money. We’re going to be overpaying because we’re new like the PBC [Premier Boxing Champions] did. The PBC caused the problems for all promoters and me by driving up the prices for the fighters, and now it’s going to happen all over again. The real winners are the fighters,” Hearn said.
Hearn is already complaining about having to overpay fighters. That’s not a good sign. If he tries to nickel and dime fighters, he’s not going to be able to sign the superstar fighters that he needs for his streaming deal to work. Instead of complaining about having to overpay fighters, Hearn needs to accept it as the price of doing business.