MATCHROOM have big plans for the upcoming year. “We’re nowhere near where we want to be. We’re only just really getting started,” promoter Eddie Hearn promised. “[Boxing] was absolutely crucified for years and years and years and it’s taken time to reinvent. But we are reinventing it, we’re filling stadiums. This O2 show [on January 31] is a great example. I couldn’t believe it went on sale and did 3,000 tickets in the first day… [Anthony] Joshua’s a massive part of that because now people are getting on the bandwagon. People are wanting to come to live events again, people are enjoying the experience. It’s so important for a punter to go to a show and actually enjoy a night out. I can’t stress that enough. Not just the fight. The music, the people, the seats, the arenas, everything combined.
“We’re not just looking at putting bums on seats for that event, we’re looking at growing the sport so in three, five years time, young kids are coming through, the talent’s coming through, boxing gyms are packed, kids are going to the sport. Boxing’s cool again because that’s what boxing’s become over the last 18 months. Boxing’s become cool again to go to as an event and I think that’s down to us, to be quite honest. We’re the reason that boxing has become cool again. We’re making big fights, we’re pushing the boundaries, the promotions are different. Honest opinion, I think that is what’s happened. Go to our shows, you look at our crowds, people are younger, people are dressing up, there’s more women. We did it with darts and we’re doing it with boxing and the numbers are translating… It’s January, it’s a bad time to sell. We’ll have 10,000 there [at the O2], that’s a big success.
“We’re doing so much in terms of the simple stuff, that anyone can do, the music, getting people in the ring, the MC. Then there’s the other stuff, the social media side, Instagram, competitions, Twitter competitions, we’re going to get more involved in and bring that live feel. We did it at Froch-Groves [at Wembley], there’s was an Instagram thing on the big screens. Things like that, we’ve just got to think outside the box a little bit. The problem is there’s so much to do.”
Filling Wembley Stadium with 80,000 fans for the rematch between Carl Froch and George Groves was one of Hearn’s highlights of 2014. “Wembley was amazing and actually when I look back I still can’t believe that happened. I don’t actually remember a lot about it. It’s weird. In boxing things are changing so quickly, it’s non-stop. You’re on one project one day and the next day, you’re on another project, so you don’t really get a chance to sit back and say that was wonderful. I think we should because Wembley was something very, very special. Kell Brook winning the world title in California was brilliant. Anthony Joshua has had a great year, even Callum Smith as well. Someone like Callum, probably many didn’t expect to come out and do what he’s done but I think the key for us had been the success of taking shows to new towns, new cities, filling arenas and growing stars. Josh Warrington has been a real success story. So many. I think that when you look going into next year, it’s non-stop. Not just from us. I don’t think many would deny, not wanting to sound big-headed, that we’re number one at the moment but that can change, if you get complacent. But it’s not just us doing good things. Frank Warren is giving it a go. Mick Hennessy’s giving it a go, he’s got some terrestrial tv coverage, even Dennis Hobson trying to do a few bits and pieces. It’s a great time for British boxing.
“I think a lot of our success has been based around Leeds with Josh Warrington, Hull with Luke Campbell, even Scotland was a big success for us with Burns for a while. London now is reemerging. Liverpool will always been Liverpool, Manchester’s tough but it’s always there. It’s tough because the big cities, London’s the same, they want big fights because there’s so much going on.
“Every market’s different. The plan for 2015 is to move not just to cities in the UK but also to countries, we want to do more stuff in America, Germany with the Sauerland brothers, working very closely with them. We want to expand. We won’t take our eye off the ball in the UK but we’re nowhere near as big as I want us to be yet and that expansion really involves moving and looking at other territories as well.
“We’ve got a great stable now. Imagine in two or three years, when the likes of Joshua, Campbell, Callum Smith, Martin Ward, Charlie Edwards, Kal Yafai are all in their prime, we’ll have a great stable.”