On Matchroom and trying to take over the world

Eddie Hearn
Action Images/Andrew Couldridge
'We want to establish the Matchroom Boxing brand in the same way as UFC.' Eddie Hearn details the plan for global domination. Matt Christie continues the big interview

IT must be difficult to juggle your time between DAZN in the USA and Sky Sports in the UK. Can you say you are putting as much effort into the UK shows now as you were two years ago?

Yes. When you’re trying to establish a global business you can’t be a one-trick pony. In answer to your question, I don’t believe our UK shows will suffer. But will some of my focus be taken off the UK shows? 100 per cent. But that’s just life. That’s why you build a good team of people. To make sure you delegate and they do the job, and as long as they don’t affect the quality of the show, that’s fine. When you’ve got 100 per cent of the focus on the UK business and then 20 or 30 per cent of your focus goes to the US, of course, that’s just natural. But that’s why we bring in a team. We’ve expanded the team, we’ve probably got 30 employees now in our global boxing business set-up.

Compared to what when you started?

Probably, four. It used to just be me, Johnny Wish [John Wischusen], Frank [Smith] was just a tea boy and that was about it I think. Now there’s digital, head of social media, matchmaker in the UK, matchmaker in the US, matchmaker in Italy. The target and the dream for us is to establish that global business. I’m not interested in just being a UK promoter. We want to establish the Matchroom Boxing brand, [in the same way] as UFC, which is very difficult to do, but as the key global boxing brand that is synonymous with quality, great fights and great events, in every major market.

We want to be able to go into those markets and that’s part of the new deals we’re doing now in new territories. We’ll be up to 54 shows a year and I’d like that to be 70 or 80. I’d like to be doing two or three shows a weekend, worldwide.

But then obviously I can’t attend every one. The harder thing is probably managing the personal life with a family. Because if I didn’t have a family I’d live in a hotel, literally. I’d go from one city to another city, to event to event, living out of a suitcase. I could do that.

You can employ people to do social media, you can employ qualified people in certain fields of your business, but are there really the fighters out there to do 54 shows a year? Is it difficult to find quality fighters to ensure each of those shows are a success considering the magnitude of what you’re trying to achieve?

No. It’s harder to have the relationship with some of the fighters. If you only had eight fighters, you’re going to talk to them a lot more than if you had 80 fighters. But that’s why you bring a team in.
I had a conversation with a fighter the other day who has lost domestic titles and said to me, ‘It’s hard to get hold of you. I’ve spoke to someone in the office but I’d like to have a meeting with you.’ But that’s why that person is in the office. To deal with you. I’m not going to ignore you but obviously my priorities will change. Call it ruthless, but that’s how it is.

When you have eight fighters, maybe when you get a British champion, he’s a major part of your team. Now if we have a British champion, it’s still important to us, but when you’ve got an undisputed world champion, when you’ve got pound-for-pound greats, of course they’re [British champions] going to be further down the pecking order. But they’re going to get more opportunities to box on more shows, bigger shows, shows worldwide, and earn more money than being anywhere else [under a different promoter].

We will naturally get the guys who don’t feel like they’re as important as they used to be but, in all honesty and being completely ruthless, perhaps they’re not. So if we’re trying to put on unification fights in Vegas and then we’ve got a guy who’s just lost for the British title two fights ago, obviously he’s not going to be at the forefront of our vision. It doesn’t mean we’ll turn our back on him, but there are people who have been delegated to guide his career rather than me.

Everyone wants me to turn up to the press conferences, everyone wants me to turn up to the fight nights and the weigh-ins. We’ll get to the stage where we are doing 80 events a year. I can’t be at everything. The Italian events will be on a Friday night. That’s a little bit easier, I can go to them, but then you’ve got to get across time zones, to America, to China and so forth. It’s going to be madness, but that’s the dream.

Is it harder than you thought it would be?

Not really, no.

Eddie Hearn on Matchroom

Is it harder than you thought to attract the fighters you wanted?

We’ve got eight world champions already signed. [Oleksandr] Usyk, [Demetrius] Andrade, [Daniel] Jacobs, [Artur] Beterbiev, [Maurice] Hooker, [Daniel] Roman. We’ve got [Jarrell] Miller. But we still need someone like Mikey Garcia or a Charlo.

People [promoters and broadcasters] are just hanging on for dear life. If you look at what Showtime are doing now when we talked about PPV earlier [read HERE], Showtime don’t have one championship night scheduled at all. But they have three PPVs scheduled: Wilder-Fury in December, Pacquiao-Broner in January, Spence-Garcia in February. So they are having to say to those fighters, ‘we will give you a PPV date’ to keep them.

But it will just take time for those fighters to realise that those PPVs won’t hit the numbers that equate to the numbers we are offering them.

DAZN is a very aggressive business who want everything now, and that’s why the Canelo deal happened. They could have waited there, maybe three months, and they would have got him. That’s not the kind of company they are. They might tell me to talk to fighter. I’ll say I have offered them this. They will then tell me to offer him more. But I’ll say no. We run a business and we know the numbers on how a business should be run but this whole different animal. It’s not something I’m used to, I don’t like throwing away money. I don’t like just giving away another million.

But that must be difficult. You publicised the amount the DAZN deal was worth from the start. It’s almost like putting all your cards on the table.

We had a choice there. A lot of people told me not to say how big the deal was. But I’m a promoter. I can’t go out there and say, ‘We’ve done a deal. It’s big but I can’t really give you the details on how big it is.’ That’s the selling point. It is a billion-dollar deal and that’s the headline.

Of course it’s going to give you other problems but what we’ve seen is ESPN getting hugely aggressive, Showtime getting aggressive, HBO have gone. Everyone is trying to keep up with the spend and it will be a war of attrition. Only the sharpest and those with the deepest pockets will survive. But the whole market is madness. The fighters are overpaid, the money has got completely out of control but that’s the market now in America. I’d love to be an advisor or a manager because you’ve got no risk. You serve your fighter up, you say ‘how much do you want to pay?’ You take your commission and you go on holiday.

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