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Eddie Hearn: ‘To want to be in the boxing business at this level is a borderline illness’

Eddie Hearn
Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing
Eddie Hearn on what Canelo Alvarez means for Matchroom's global plans, and how he's 'addicted' to boxing

PROMOTER Eddie Hearn rarely has a quiet day. But the last few weeks have been as tumultuous as they come. He took over from his father Barry as chairman of the Matchroom Sport group, came close to making the Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury megafight, only to see that fall apart. He did stage Canelo Alvarez vs Billy Joe Saunders in Texas, during a pandemic, with a US boxing attendance record. He agreed a landmark deal with DAZN in the UK, a major break for Matchroom as they leave long time broadcast partner Sky and he has just announced a new deal in partnership with Canelo and DAZN for a series of shows in Mexico.

“It’s been a great month but people always want blood,” he tells Boxing News. “I’m talking about fans, I’m talking about broadcasters, I’m talking about sponsors.

“It’s part and parcel but you never really get the time to reflect … because it’s on to the next one.”

“My biggest weakness is never really living in the moment or accepting achievement. I play a trick on myself a little bit. I don’t want to big myself up, selfishly because it will make me complacent. So I kind of undersell myself to myself, this is quite deep and weird but this what I do,” Hearn continued. “People wrote us off in America. No one let us in. Then we signed Canelo. We done that, I’m still like; now we’ve got to do the undisputed [fight], now we’ve got to move to another market, now we’ve got to do this.

“That’s just the drive of saying yes you’re never happy but you also want more. Want more. It’s not even financial. It’s just you want to break more boundaries. You want more success. You want to do better.”

The move into Mexico is part of Matchroom’s plan for global expansion. “No one’s promoting globally. We’re the only promotional company that are promoting events globally in different markets,” Hearn said. “DAZN are looking to break into the Mexican market but also the content there will be of huge interest our American subscribers as well and it’s additional shows for our UK subscribers. They get that content as well. DAZN UK customers are going to get 16 UK shows, probably 10 US shows, four Italian, four Spanish, six Mexican a year. Then there’ll be Australia, then there’ll be Canada. You’ll build a global schedule where there will be a show every week from a different major city around the world. That’s the thing we’ve always dreamed, having that almost internal circuit like the UFC. That’s how that’s going to be built.”

Eddie Hearn
Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

Canelo himself is key to that growth. “That partnership has really helped Matchroom grow because he’s the biggest star by a mile in America. He’s got such a huge fan base. It’s funny when people say who’s the easiest fighter you deal with in boxing, number one is Anthony Joshua and joint number one Canelo Alvarez, unbelievable,” the promoter said. “Me, Canelo and Eddy Reynoso, taking big time boxing back to Mexico with DAZN. It’s a multi-year deal, four fights in the next six months, non-stop fights and action and that’s coming after the UK announcement.

“Our first show will be at the end of June in Guadalajara and it’s like the whole thing is built off the search for the new Canelo. But the talent is there.”

For Canelo himself the target is a bout with Caleb Plant for the undisputed super-middleweight crown in September. Given Alvarez’s importance to DAZN and now to Matchroom it would be understandable if they were desperate to secure that fight for their platform. But Hearn insists any promotional allegiance won’t be a problem when it comes to securing a deal with Plant.

“We’ll do everything we can to get it on DAZN but it doesn’t have to be on DAZN. That’s the beauty of being a free agent,” the promoter said. “When you’re that size [like Canelo] you don’t necessarily have to sign a long term broadcast deal because things change.

“All Canelo wants to do is fight Caleb Plant. Now if that fight can’t happen on DAZN, he can do it on Fox, he can do it on ESPN. If he wanted to fight [Edgar] Berlanga he could do it with Top Rank. His last three fights have been on DAZN because they’ve been two DAZN fighters in Billy Joe Saunders and Callum Smith and [Avni] Yildirim, who was just a mandatory.

“He’s asked me to promote his next fight, secure the deal, we have no problem with [going elsewhere]. It doesn’t even have to be a Matchroom show. Our job is to promote Canelo Alvarez and look after his best interests. Of course we’d love to be the host promoter but whatever it takes to deliver him this opportunity.”

Now Hearn is chair of Matchroom, he has their other sports under his remit. “I can’t remember the last time I woke up in the morning and didn’t have bad news on my phone. ‘He’s out.’ ‘He’s failed a Covid test.’ ‘He’s reneged on a deal. ‘He’s injured.’ ‘He’s failed a drug test.’ ‘The venue’s shut down.’ Every single day. After a while you say to yourself how long do I want to do it for?” Eddie explained. “To want to be in the business at that level is a borderline illness… They’re addicted to boxing, to the business, to trying to win. They’re competitors”

But boxing is hard to leave behind. “Frank [Smith] now is taking more responsibility within the boxing business because I’m now chairman of the group,” the promoter continued. “Frank’s an amazing operator. Levels above me, in terms of operating. He can’t sell like me. But he’s been doing this since he was 15 and he’s done everything, from health and safety to international TV contracts, fighter contracts, to governing bodies. Everything.”

“It’s quite funny seeing him have to deal with trainers, managers. And I’m laughing at him because he looks like he’s aged five years in the last month. But he has to start taking it on. Because I can’t do it forever and I will be moving and migrating more into other sports. But the reality is I love boxing,” he adds. “We’re all addicted.

“To boxing, we love it.”

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