English boxing promoter Eddie Hearn elaborated on his bold splash into the U.S. market Thursday, telling the Los Angeles Times he’ll bring the second card of his new $1-billion venture to Los Angeles in October.
“There’ll be a strong Mexican presence,” Hearn told The Times at his formal announcement of the deal with the Perform Group that will show fight cards on the on-demand streaming service Dazn.
“We’ll have 12 big fight nights a year and four monsters. Those monsters should be a standard pay-per-view night, free to our subscribers.”
The debut card presented by Hearn’s Matchroom USA is likely to be staged in New York in September, and though Hearn said he’s not sure if his unbeaten, three-belt heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua will be part of the project, he did say Joshua could fight mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin in September if talks with unbeaten World Boxing Council champion Deontay Wilder don’t lead to a deal before then.
Hearn said his plan for the new streaming venture, which counts Spotify founder Simon Denyer and former ESPN head John Skipper as executive chairman, has $110 million per year to spend on the eight-year deal.
“I don’t know if we’ll get Wilder. If I was Wilder, I’d want to know what’s out there for me and it makes it easier to make,” Hearn said.
“It’s a dream come true. We already work with [the Perform Group] with the sports we produce and we’ve seen them acquire the boxing content we do in Japan, Canada and Germany, and seeing the money they’re spending … this is backed by one of the richest men in the world, who owns Spotify.
“This is a sporting platform, not just boxing, and while they’ve looked at the NFL, NBA and MLB, and seen it’s about 18 months before they can bid on that, what can we bid on now to drive subscribers? Boxing.
“We’ll be signing a lot of fighters … listen to what we have to say and listen to the money, and see what’s in it for you. Any world-class fighter without a promotional contract … .”
“We control … $6 million on one night and $15 million another. If it’s quality programming, it doesn’t matter to me how it comes. If a promoter comes to me and says, ‘I can’t get this guy on Showtime or HBO, can you put him on in L.A. in October?’ No problem. You might see that happen. No one can pay what we’re paying in rights fees.”
He said in addition to the routine fight venues in New York, Los Angeles an Las Vegas, he’s intrigued by taking boxing to Chicago, Minnesota, Miami and other destinations.
As for Joshua-Wilder, Hearn said, “The deal they’ve offered is for a U.S. fight. Joshua feels he’s built something brilliant in the U.K. He doesn’t need to go to the U.S. yet … we can do the second one in the U.S. These are all the conversations we’re having.”
Veteran promoter Bob Arum heard of Hearn’s deal and cautioned not to get overly excited.
“Every big fight we make is for seven figures … but it’s another avenue for fights, and it’s great for boxing,” Arum said. “The more people who can see it, the better. Good shows with good license fees? Great. If he’s coming in doing great fights, great.”