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Can Matchroom build American empire on low weights and females

Image: Can Matchroom build American empire on low weights and females

By Gav Duthie: In September of 2017, Eddie Hearn announced the first signing of his new venture Matchroom USA with the ‘Miracle Man’ Daniel Jacobs.

Hearn criticized the pricing structure of PPV boxing in the USA and had several top boxers Stateside on his wish list. The PBC, Top Rank, and Mayweather promotions had been put on notice. But nearly 4 years on has Hearn made much of an impact in the US.

Has DAZN and their subscription offer provided value for money and do they have the content. This article attempts to discuss the influence Hearn, DAZN and Matchroom have had in the US market and how it may look in the future.

4 years and how much to show for it

Hearn talked about wanting to sign the Charlo brothers, Adrien Broner, Gervonta Davis, and several other prominent U.S fighters. He did sign as aforementioned Daniel Jacobs who was quality with a great story but not quite elite and they didn’t really manage to create much fireworks.

He also signed Devin Haney but also lost him before he became elite last month winning the undisputed lightweight championship.

It has to be said that Matchroom has good working relationships with arguably the two biggest stars in boxing financially in Canelo Alvarez and Anthony Joshua who have global appeal but there is little depth to Matchroom USA.

U.S pricing structure

PPV fights in America generally go for between 80-100 dollars per fight. It doesn’t need to be a top fight for this price. It has been this way since the 90s and nobody dared change it.

The feeling was ‘what if we put it lower and the amount of buys stay the same’. Boxing is nowhere near as popular as it was in the 90s. In the UK most fights are free and the biggest would be £25 at the most.

The structure in America seems crazy for a blue-collar sport in a world which has seen recessions, loss of work and a huge surge in living costs its hard to justify.

Recently there have been PPV at lower prices but DAZN charging $9.99 per month was groundbreaking in that market. Recently however even DAZN has stated that certain fights will be pay-per-view involving the likes of Canelo and Joshua.

DAZN product

DAZN were clever enough not to have just Matchroom exclusively in the U.S it’s fine in the UK as they have a huge stable. They simply wouldn’t have a big enough product in America though.

So they also signed Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions to bolster the boxing product. Golden Boy has several fighters with their main names being Ryan Garcia, Jaime Munguia, Vergil Ortiz, and Gilberto Ramirez but none of those are current world champions as Golden Boy and DAZN are struggling to get them the opportunities against PBC and Top Rank fighters.

The Wall

Leonard Ellerbe CEO of ‘Mayweather Promotions’ has said Eddie Hearn has messed up in America and blown through a billion dollars. This writer can’t substantiate these figures but there is a feeling that the impact made has been less significant than expected given the resources.

Matchroom has struggled to work with Ellerbe, Arum of Top Rank, and Al Haymon of PBC and they all seem united at least in not letting their fighters cross over to DAZN or doing cross-promotions.

Eddie doesn’t help himself on social media and on boxing Youtube channels and he seems to have little to no working relationship with any of these CEO’s.

The fight

Eddie Hearn is still a great promoter and he doesn’t give up easy. He comes from a lineage of top promoting inheriting his Dad’s company Barry Hearn who promoted the likes of Herbie Hide and Chris Eubank. Matchroom promotion covers many sports.

Matchroom and DAZN have managed to grab a niche market in the U.S with female fighters and lower weight fighters.

Having Canelo and Joshua is great but it only covers 3 or 4 fight dates a year. The American public needs to feel value for money to hand over a figure each month even if it is substantially cheaper.

Matchroom fight stable (Female and lower weight males)

  • Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez
  • Julio Cesar Martinez
  • Murodjon Akhmadaliev
  • Juan Francisco Estrada
  • Alycia Baumgardner
  • Hyun Mi Choi
  • Ebanie Bridges
  • Franchon Crews-Dezurn
  • Skye Nicholson
  • Katie Taylor
  • Chantelle Cameron
  • Jessica McCaskill

If you ask even hardcore boxing fans to name historic lower weight class fighters they would name only a handful like Nonito Donaire or Ricardo Lopez.

Today though there is significant interest in fighters 122lbs and down. Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez and Naoya Inoue are arguably P4P fighters, Jesse Rodriguez is a future star, Donaire is still around and all the opponents are known because of the star appeal of the main ones.

Eddie has Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez, Juan Francisco Estrada and Julio Cesar Martinez. He has worked with Chocolatito a few times in fights against Kal Yafai, Estradas, and Martinez.

With the emergence of Bam Rodriguez as well this could be a lucrative market. The best thing as well is that both Julio Cesar Martinez and Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez recently took fights at short notice in different weight classes to save events.

This is something that wouldn’t happen in higher weight classes but these guys make less money and see it as opportunities. As a result of this Eddie can put on fantastic events with these guys along with the next one looking like Chocolatito v Bam Rodriguez.

Regarding the women’s division Matchroom are without doubt the biggest promoters of the sport. The Katie Taylor v Amanda Serrano event was epic and historic.

It actually transcended boxing that it could sell out MSG and inspire girls all over the world to follow their dreams. Hearn has arguably 3 of the top 10 P4P female fighters in Katie Taylor, Jessica McCaskill, and Alycia Baumgardner who all have the potential to fight each other.

Hearn has also mentioned the Serrano rematch, Cyborg, and Hollie Holm which would all be big events. Katie is 35 so her career is finite but the sport definitely has a bright future.

DAZN Australia

  • Skye Nicholson
  • Demsey Mckean
  • Ebanie Bridges
  • Brock Jarvis
  • Liam Paro

It should also be noted that Matchroom and DAZN boxing do not have all their eggs in one basket signing the above fighters in Australia to make inroads in that market. The subscriptions are of course going well in the UK as well with Joshua and the likes of Conor Benn. America might be tougher but both companies will keep coming.

The Future

DAZN are a powerhouse, not just in boxing and not just in America but it’s a tough market to crack and mistakes have been made.

Female boxing and low-weight class boxing aren’t enough to gain significant market share and lasting subscriptions but it could keep them in the game long enough to make another run at getting bigger fights.

Having AJ, Canelo and a new star in Bivol will also help. The verdict is that it has been difficult but DAZN and Matchroom USA are here for the long haul and I think they will succeed.

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