Recently after much speculation Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sport took on the ambitious task of breaking America. Hearn speaking to IFL TV this past week, his message couldn’t be clearer. “The plan is to dominate there like we dominate here. Over time! It took me a few years here, but I think we can do it even quicker in America”. Ambitious words from the man who has been largely credited for taking British boxing to dizzy new heights.
Al Haymon’s America though? Surely a step to ambitious for the wannabe market street trader? Initially the Matchroom expansion was originally scheduled for 2018. However, Bob Arum having recently moved his stable of Top Rank fighters from fighting on HBO to ESPN, it has left a gap in the market. Hearn has pounced quickly on this gap, swiftly signing former middleweight World champion Danny Jacobs to a promotional contract to fight on HBO, choosing Jacobs home of New York as his first city to colonise. Undefeated charismatic Brooklyn based heavyweight Jarrell Miller was the next fighter to join the Matchroom team, who will feature alongside Jacobs on the highly anticipated show at the Nassau Coliseum on November 11th, live on HBO.
All sounds very promising, but the promoting of Danny Jacobs won’t be as simple as most of you think. Yeah I know; cancer survivor, good talker, exciting fighter etc. However you have to take into consideration that not many people in New York really know who Danny Jacobs is though! A prime example is when he fought Gennady Golovkin at Madison Square Garden; nearly everybody was there to watch a Kazak rather than the home town fighter. Combined with Jacobs being in my opinion a 50/50 fight with the talented and undefeated Luis Arias, the Danny Jacobs experiment could be over within his first fight with Hearn, or severely damaged at least.
But it’s not all about Danny Jacobs! Jarrell Miller is somebody along with Jacobs Hearn can start generating real ticket sales for within the Big Apple. Hearn will also look to utilise his British fighters in the American market combined with building the profiles of American fighters Hearn will acquire. Conor Benn will be fighting on the November 11th card and Anthony Crolla will commentate for HBO on the night, showing Hearn’s intent to build his British fighters in America with help of HBO. Don’t be surprised if we see a UK vs USA style type of event in the near future. Hearn being usually undeterred to pit his fighters against one another, Anthony Crolla VS Ricky Burns and Tony Bellew VS Nathan Cleverly to name just a couple of examples.
Putting aside the November 11th card, Matchroom’s options for their British stable of fighters look to be plentiful in America. According to Hearn “HBO are dying to get Kal Yafai on their next Super Fly Card” he said in an interview with IFL TV and Luke Campbell, Ricky Burns, Callum Smith, Katy Taylor among others have already been well exposed on Showtime and HBO to the American audience. Oh, I nearly forgot, Anthony Joshua, who is arguably the biggest star in World boxing, has had Showtime airing his last handful of fights. Hearn has made it no secret that he intends to turn Joshua into a global star fighting across the Atlantic and HBO will be integral to this and Hearn’s American dream. HBO having been the driving force behind building some of the World’s greatest ever boxing stars. Matchroom will be counting on them to help deliver a similar status to their fighters in the States.
You wonder what boxing’s most powerful man Al Haymon has got to say about all of this? Danny Jacobs is a Al Haymon advised fighter, putting two and two together, Haymon would have given his blessing for Jacobs to sign with Hearn. Haymon and Hearn already have a good working relationship and you have to remember Al Haymon is not technically a promoter either, the British promoter could prove handy to Al Haymon! Matchroom USA appear to have positioned themselves on the right side of Haymon which you would imagine should only benefit them and more opportunities for Al Haymon fighters to sign with Hearn could arise. Another HBO card is set to be announced this week, confirming no blockades have been set by Haymon and co yet. Danny Jacobs is the first ever Al Haymon fighter to sign a deal with HBO, showing us a Hearn/Haymon union will be beneficial to both parties.
Can Eddie Hearn crack America then? All the chips are already falling into place nicely and following an impressive reign as the UK’s most successful promoter over the past years, you wouldn’t bet against him. The biggest hurdle will be creating the atmosphere at events in America much like he does in the UK. A market that thrives on hype, Eddie Hearn should fit in well to his new surroundings.
By Adam Noble-Forcey