Premium Issue News

Media Review: Is DAZN in trouble?

Canelo Alvarez DAZN
The financial implications of the pandemic appears to have hit US streaming big-spenders and Dave Allen drops a welcome reality bomb, writes George Gigney in his weekly media round-up

Websites
IS DAZN in trouble? That’s the question many have asked of the streaming platform as it was revealed by the Financial Times (FT) that its billionaire owner, Len Blavatnik, is trying to raise funds for the business. With little to no live sport taking place amid the coronavirus lockdown, DAZN has taken a serious financial hit – FT points out that many of its monthly subscribers have paused their payments, and DAZN has previously sought to defer payments it owes to sports leagues while there’s no live competition taking place.

Two years ago the company was valued at $3bn while research group Enders Analysis estimate that DAZN’s financial commitments with live sports rights total $3.7bn. If that’s accurate, it’s a serious problem.

What’s worse is that – according to the FT – there has been little interest so far from those who have been approached to buy an equity stake in the business, or an outright sale of the entire thing.

Obviously the execs at DAZN couldn’t have predicted the current pandemic, nor the devastating impact it would have on businesses across the globe, but their aggressive acquisition of broadcasting rights in numerous sports may now come back to haunt them. Boxing is one of the sports they made enormous financial commitments to, including their record-breaking deal with Canelo Alvarez.

Canelo Alvarez light-heavyweight

It’s too early to say if these difficulties are terminal for DAZN, but the hope is that they won’t be. Besides the tragedy of so many people losing their jobs, if DAZN were to collapse the boxing landscape would become even messier – plus, whatever you think of DAZN’s work in boxing so far, the platform has helped the sport move into the digital world more quickly.

After Eddie Hearn revealed his plans to stage shows in a purpose built arena in Essex last week, rival promoter Frank Warren has spoken to talkSPORT about his own intentions to return to action in the near future.

“We’re quite far advanced and we could probably run a show – subject to the boxers being fit and well – next week,” he said.

Subject to getting the green light from the British Boxing Board of Control, Warren’s shows will be behind closed doors for the foreseeable future and each will feature just five fights, as per the Board’s current stipulations.

Warren also claimed that they’ll run a “minimum of one show a week,” explaining that he has a lot of fighters to get active again. This of course mirrors Hearn’s plan to stage one show per week from July through to August. While Warren – who holds a broadcast deal with BT Sport – didn’t discuss which shows would be televised, it seems we’re heading for regular scheduling clashes during the summer – a certain saying about London buses springs to mind.

That being said, given the current drought of live boxing, two shows in one night could be music to a lot of fan’s ears.

Anthony Joshua and David Haye are both in support of a potential Mike Tyson comeback, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. Joshua told British GQ that he’d “love” to see the 53-year-old back in the ring, while Haye told talkSPORT that he sees no reason for Tyson to not return to action after 15 years.

As not only successful fighters but also bonafide celebrities, Joshua’s and Haye’s words carry weight with many, so it’s slightly alarming that they’d be so supportive of Tyson getting hit in the head again.

On the other side of the argument, Dave Allen said to talkSPORT: “I’d beat a 53-year-old Mike Tyson. And that is the saddest thing any boxing fan wants to hear. For that reason alone, he should never box again.”

Allen is usually honest to a fault, and it’s hard to argue with him here; all you need to do is watch Tyson’s last professional fight – a sad retirement loss to Kevin McBride in 2005 – to know his fighting days are long, long gone. That’s even ignoring the fact that Tyson’s punch resistance will only have worsened since then, his body will no longer be used to the torture of a fight.

However, unsurprisingly, Tyson wouldn’t be looked over by the world’s sanctioning bodies should he return. WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman told StatsPerform: “An exhibition is one thing. If he comes back he has to be licensed and go through a thorough process. I’m not going to kill the dream. If the dream is to say, ‘I will be ranked,’ I’m saying yes, we will rank him.”

Yeesh.

Thankfully, Sulaiman diluted that nonsense slightly in a separate interview with ESPN Deportes, in which he revealed the WBC will reduce sanctioning fees during the current global crisis and will also consider mandatory situations on a case by case basis.

The WBC have been pretty woeful in enforcing mandatory obligations on their champions in the past, so that last part doesn’t hold much water, but reducing their sanctioning fees is a welcomed move.

YouTube

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, Sky Sports released an emotional interview with Johnny Nelson to reflect on his career and, more specifically, his time with the late Brendan Ingle, who trained Ingle to world title honours.

Two years on from Ingle’s passing, it’s still a tough topic for Nelson – there are tears – but the interview is by no means sombre and it’s genuinely moving.

Nelson also looks back on pivotal moments in his career, at times highlighting the crippling fear he carried into the ring. It’s well worth a watch and an apt reminder that fighters can be just as vulnerable as the rest of us – by no means a bad thing.

Boxing news – Newsletter

Current Issue