Monday, June 16, 2014
Hearn planning on U.S. invasion
By Dan Rafael
British promoter Eddie Hearn is looking to diversify into other markets, including the United States.
NEW YORK -- On June 8, British promoter Barry Hearn was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York, after decades as one of Europe's most influential promoters. Someday his kid, Eddie Hearn, might join his dad in the HOF.
Eddie Hearn now runs the day-to-day business of Matchroom Sport, the family company and the most significant boxing promoter in the United Kingdom -- and one of the two most important promoters in Europe, along with Germany's Sauerland Event.
Hearn, armed with an exclusive television deal to put on the fights televised by England's subscription network Sky Sports through 2016, has built a stable of top U.K. fighters, including Carl Froch, Scott Quigg, Ricky Burns, James DeGale, Anthony Joshua, Kell Brook, Kevin Mitchell and others.
His crowning achievement so far was promoting Froch's super middleweight title rematch against George Groves on May 31, a fight that drew some 80,000 to London's Wembley Stadium (a British record) and sold more than 900,000 pay-per-views in the U.K., second all time there to Ricky Hatton's fight with Floyd Mayweather (which did about 1.2 million). The Froch-Groves PPV number is gargantuan when you consider how small the population in the U.K. is compared to the United States, where a PPV that sells 900,000 is very, very strong for fighters not named Mayweather.
With so much success at home, Hearn is looking to branch out and bring the Matchroom name to the United States, he told ESPN.com.
"People keep asking me what's next after Wembley? How will you top that? The plan now is to diversify into other markets and territories, and the U.S. is likely to be next," said Hearn, who was at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Saturday night as Brian Rose, a Matchroom Sport fighter, lost a junior middleweight title challenge against Demetrius Andrade.
"In three years, we have established ourselves as the major force in the U.K. We already have a fantastic reputation with international broadcasters and they know exactly what we can do and what we are capable of. There is a big opportunity for us and our fighters in the U.S., and although we certainly won't be taking our eyes off the ball in the U.K., plans are already in place to start promoting shows and signing fighters in the U.S. It's exciting times."
One thing Hearn has excelled at is marketing fighters in their hometowns. British fans are also very passionate about their guys, so that makes Hearn's job a little easier than some promoters have it. But the results are there. Hearn wants to bring that to the U.S.
"I think fighters in the U.S. need to be marketed better. I don't see the same passion, the same support as the U.K., and I believe I can change that," Hearn said. "I think because such a huge proportion of the show revenue comes from the broadcaster [in the U.S.] that it's easy to be lazy and forget about putting bums on seats and driving a fighter's profile. There are pound-for-pound top-10 fighters who could walk down their own street unnoticed, and if you don't create the atmosphere at the shows, then the product will suffer and ultimately the sport will suffer."