Matchroom & Perform seek to land 'US KO' with $1 billion DAZN partnership

'[We had been] thinking from a fan's perspective about what was going on in terms of the increasing cost of traditional pay TV sports. USA promoters such as Bob Arum's Top Rank, Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy and the mysterious Al Haymon still boast a formidable foray of fighters within their ranks.

It's a sizable investment-the biggest in boxing history, according to the companies-in a sport that's seen declining interest in the US over the past few decades.

Those 16 shows will go along with the 16 cards a year Hearn promotes in the United Kingdom on broadcast partner Sky Sports.

"It's open season on all world class fighters in the U.S", said Hearn. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, the sport's biggest stars of the past 15 years, are both retired, and younger fighters have yet to make an impact beyond avid fight fans.

Perform Group is a major worldwide provider of digital sports properties, including editorial content (such as Goal.com and Sporting News), tactical technology (Opta Sports), and streaming OTT (DAZN, pronounced "Da Zone").

"We were unsafe without a platform, without money, but with this deal, with a platform and the money, oh my God, we're going to be causing nightmares in the promotional game over here", Hearn said.

"It gets to the stage where we are asking 'Why are we looking to do this in the US?' Because it's more money - but is that really important?"

DAZN as a platform has been readily available in countries such as Germany, Austria and Japan.

Head of Sky Sports Boxing, Adam Smith said: 'The new deal is hugely exciting and offers customers an even bigger schedule of boxing.

Thursday's event was organized to tout the financial investment that would help Hearn attract boxers and make a statement.

"America - we have well and truly arrived, let the fun begin".

Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, Tony Bellew, Kell Brook and Anthony Crolla are among the biggest names in Hearn's stable.

Hearn said the reason he wanted to unveil the plans now even though DAZN hasn't yet formally announced its arrival in the USA and the boxing won't begin until September is because "I'm talking to all these fighters".

"This is a historic moment for Matchroom and the sport of boxing", said Hearn "Since our expansion to the U.S., we have been looking for a partner that shares our vision and that can give us the volume of dates and rights fees required to build the strongest stable in world boxing and take it to a new level". Hearn wants to explore promoting cards in all of the major markets if the demand is there.

"This is a brand-new era for boxing in the U.S.", Hearn said during a news conference in the Rainbow Room's loft, adding: "We are going to upset a lot of people, but it's going to be a great journey".

  • Angelo Rivera