Matchroom Boxing to come to the States
It was revealed on Saturday night during HBO’s broadcast (which featured Jorge Linares’ narrow split decision victory over Luke Campbell at the Forum in Inglewood, California) that Daniel Jacobs – coming off his strong showing against unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin last March – had entered a multi-fight agreement with the network that will kick off next month.
A not-so-small element of this deal is that Jacobs would be promoted under the Matchroom Boxing banner, which is based in Britain and run by Group Managing Director Eddie Hearn.
“We’ve been looking to get into the U.S. market for awhile now. We probably saw it coming in 2018,” explained Hearn, inside the bowels of the Forum after his client, Campbell, had come up just a bit short in his quest for the WBA lightweight title.”I’ve always had a good relationship with (Senior Vice President of HBO Sports) Peter Nelson. We talk a lot and obviously, once Top Rank went elsewhere, I thought there was an opportunity there to come on board.”
According to Hearn, he initially met with Jacobs and his manager Keith Connolly during the Mikey Garcia-Adrien Broner fight week in late July, in Brooklyn, New York. “I’ve really just been talking since then. I went to Peter Nelson and talked about possibly bringing Danny to the network. He was absolutely over the moon. I mean that was one of his big targets, really.”
This move makes sense for both sides. Jacobs now gets a full-fledged, world-class promoter and, from HBO’s perpsective, he fits in with Golovkin, Saul Alvarez and David Lemieux, down the line.
It’s been reported that Jacobs will face Luis Arias. Hearn told UCNLive.com, “We’re looking at November, possibly November 11th. We’ve met here with MSG (Madison Square Garden). Obviously they (MSG Entertainment) own (the Forum) and they’d love to have Danny in their arenas and theaters. They obviously had the ‘Triple G’ fight. He’s got a very good relationship with Brooklyn Boxing and I’m seeing Brett Yormark, as well. If the Barclays Center is not available, we’ve got the Nassau Coliseum, as well.
“Danny trains in Long Island, as well. So yeah, it’ll be on the East Coast, most likely November 11th.”
Hearn is currently the dominant promoter in Europe and it’s interesting that an American fighter signed with a foreign promoter but Hearn made it clear that he’s not going on a U.S. signing spree.
“No,” he explained, “because, without dates, you’re not really capable of doing a job. Right now, like I said, I’ve got a commitment from HBO for Danny Jacobs and, if I bring in another fighter that they want, I’m sure I’ll get a commitment from them on that. I mean, since tonight, I’ve heard from nearly a dozen American fighters contact me, since I’ve been sitting here, who are known, saying, ‘You didn’t tell me about this.’
“But if I sign them, I’ll be in a position where I wouldn’t be able to keep them active because my selling point to U.S. fighters is: One, you’ll be promoted properly. Number two, you’ll be active. If you take on too many fighters, I wont be able to give them activity and that’s the object.”
The plan is for Jacobs to be featured Stateside with Matchroom boxers from the other side of the pond making appearances.
“It’s good news for us because you’ve got the U.K. boxers, specifically the Olympians, who can come now and get experience and box in the States and give themselves a platform and a name here, as well in the U.K. Obviously, the shows will be shown on SKY Sports – which is our host broadcaster in the U.K. So yeah, it’s big news for everybody but it’s going to take time,” said Hearn, who notes, “People are saying, ‘Ahhh, it’s the invasion.’ Slow down; no, it’s not. I think we’re probably going to look to do between four-to-six shows a year over here, something like that.”
Hearn’s track record of putting on big events is undeniable but America is a different market. While “futbol” (soccer) isn’t nearly as popular as it is in England, over here, you have to compete with the the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and collegiate sports. Also, there is the casino dynamic that doesn’t really exist in Europe.
The Linares-Campbell fight played to a rather small crowd at the Forum. A fight of that nature in England would have probably drawn a gathering of 10,000-plus. This could be a bit of a shock for Hearn, who regularly promotes cards in large stadiums.
“I’m not arrogant. I’m not thinking we’re going to come in and start filling stadiums or, ‘I could come here tonight and filled it up’ – That’s not the case,” admitted Hearn, who added with a laugh, “You’ve got to understand the market. You can’t just walk in and say, ‘Hey everybody; come to my show because it’s me, Eddie Hearn!’ Who’s Eddie Hearn?
“So I think it’s a case of understanding the market, putting on good fights and bringing something different to the shows. We’ve done that in the U.K.; I believe we’ve got the model. We need to make it sexy again. We need to make it a night out. We need to make sure that, when you go out, it’s a vibrant occasion. The fights are good; they’re flowing. HBO probably won’t like me for trying to do some of that stuff but, if they let me to it, I think we can do great together.”
Some of the boxers whom are promoted by Hearn include Kell Brook, Scott Quigg, Kal Yafai, Anthony Crolla, James DeGale, Callum Smith and now, of course, Jacobs. But the straw that stirs the drink is IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, who defends his title against Kubrat Pulev, on October 28, in Cardiff, Wales, on Showtime.
So what is the status of Joshua’s future with Showtime?
Yeah, this could really be a long play by HBO for bigger and better things.
The October 21 edition of “Boxing After Dark” on HBO from Verona, New York, will feature Jezreel Corrales-Albert Machado and Demetrius Andrade-Alantez Fox…The Dmitry Bivol-Trent Broadhurst bout on November 4, in Monaco, will be telecast on HBO. (This card will be promoted by Matchroom Boxing)…Plans are already being formulated for “SuperFly 2”…CBS’ “Kevin Can Wait” tried to fix what wasn’t broken and ruined it…”Ballers” on HBO was really bad this past season…Duke will be a tricky game for Miami on Friday night…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.