There are not a lot of constants in boxing, it is a sport where things inside and outside the ring are constantly evolving but the one thing the sport will always retain is its power to shock. Today we woke up to the news that boxing’s biggest superstar had signed a five year deal with newly launched (in the US) streaming app DAZN, a deal worth $365m. DAZN may be the new boys in the US market but they are cash rich and look to be throwing everything at cracking the market to becoming one of the world’s biggest online sport’s platforms.
For years Canelo Alvarez has been the face of HBO boxing, the pinnacle of boxing in terms of super fights. A platform steeped in boxing history. A few weeks ago HBO announced it was pulling out of boxing leaving the superstar without a home. Although DAZN are cash rich this deal came as a shock to most as DAZN already have a $1B eight year deal in place with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom and Golden Boy promotions who look after Canelo Alvarez have stated publicly “We are not interested in Co-Promoting Canelo”. As more details have emerged about this deal it has became clear that this deal is between Golden Boy and DAZN, separate from the Matchroom USA deal. This looks like a moment of genius from John Skipper, the Executive Chairman of Performance Group, the owners of DAZN. Skipper looks to have rekindled and relationship with Oscar De La Hoya after both knew each other from their time working together for ESPN, not just bringing in Canelo but also securing a home for Golden Boy and their stable.
So what does this mean for Eddie Hearn and Matchroom USA ?
Well as it stand it is impossible for us to tell for sure. It was reported that on DAZN Apps launch night which featured AJ vs Povetkin fight, that subscription numbers were particularly poor, in the low tens of thousands if some reports are to be believed . This could mean one of two things for Hearn in my opinion. When DAZN announced their $1B deal with Eddie Hearn it was clear from early on that Eddie had targets to hit. Any fighters signed to the new deal was only offered a short term bumper deals, which most declined and any decent names were co-promotion deals. With HBO pulling the plug on boxing this could be a sign that DAZN may have decided to go another way, i mean its not everyday that the biggest star in boxing becomes a free agent. I’m not saying DAZN will ditch Matchroom USA completely, i am saying that DAZN are looking to build a platform on the back of Canelo and not Matchroom, maybe in the next quarter Matchroom USA will find their budget for putting on shows dramatically cut as DAZN have already secured the rights to stream Anthony Joshua fights from the UK along with Canelo’s fights, It doesn’t get much bigger than that.
We could also look at this another way. Eddie Hearn has worked with performance group now for over five years, together they have signed some massive deals outside of the US market so we know that there is a good working relationship between both parties. This may well be DAZN telling Eddie Hearn that they know they had given him a near impossible task to crack the US and this is their way of pushing things along. There can be no doubt that this deal puts matchroom USA in a significantly stronger position as subscribers will buy into DAZN in massive numbers to see Canelo, but these people will still be viewing the platforms other shows putting Hearn in a great position to build his own star.
One thing is for sure, this deal isn’t bad for boxing. The way in which boxing is evolving on the business side of things i think it actually makes sense for a platform NOT to be exclusive to one promoter. Any sort of negotiations between Matchroom and Golden Boy just became a hell of a lot easier.