Matchroom USA are looking are bringing back live action in early August, with Florida the most likely location for their behind-closed-doors shows.
While rivals Top Rank are set to bring back live fights in Las Vegas next weekend, Matchroom – who are organising a series of fight nights in the UK in July and August – are planning a later relaunch following the coronavirus lockdown, as part of a likely announcement by DAZN of a schedule of fights for the rest of the year.
“Florida seems to be the favourite in terms of where we are looking to go, because there is a blueprint there with the UFC,” Eddie Hearn said to BoxingScene.com.
“We are talking to about four different locations now. Top Rank are going early June. Our guys in America have been training, but not sparring. They are not going to be ready until the end of July or the start of August anyway. It seems the longer we wait the easier it is going to be. But we don’t want to wait too long because we want to bring live boxing back.
“You have Zoom meetings every day with all sorts of people – commissions, broadcasters, doctors. Every week it is going to get easier, so why give yourself a mountain to climb when the boxers will not be ready. They know they will be in big fights.”
DAZN, Hearn’s US broadcasters, are rumoured to have lost up to 30 percent of their subscriber base during the lockdown so Hearn said it was important to put on fights that would attract subscribers back, rather than just fights for the sake of providing content.
“I don’t want to come back with Fighter X against a guy no one is interested in,” Hearn said. “The day of the easy payday should be gone now, we want our guys to be in compelling fights.
“Any business that relies on live sport is going to have had a tough ride. We are working with DAZN on a schedule for the rest of the year and we are all working together to plan for the return of boxing. We’re cracking on and need to come back with a compelling schedule.”
DAZN’s schedule for the rest of the year is likely to include fights involving Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, Anthony Joshua and Gennady Golovkin.
“DAZN need key moments,” Hearn said. “They have not been in operation for two years, but they have driven big numbers.
“We had a great finish to last year and that gave us some great momentum, unfortunately that momentum has taken a knock because if what has happened. So now we have to regroup and comeback, make sure all those who have left return and the continuing customers continue to enjoy great fights. Everyone is confident.
“People are talking about fight purses getting out of hand. Yes, but we were coming into a market to establish a brand. We have done that now. With the current environment, everyone is going to be cutting back, every broadcaster, every promoter, every customer, every fans. So now is the time to deliver more value for money than ever.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for Boxing Scene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.