Eddie Hearn says his Matchroom company will make a decision on a new UK broadcast deal within the next two weeks, amid rumors that they will leave Sky at the end of their contract this summer.
Hearn has been Sky’s exclusive promoter for the past seven years and their support has turned Matchroom from a fringe force in the UK to a global power. But that deal expires this summer and rumors are rife that he will agree a deal with DAZN, with whom Matchroom has deals in North America and globally.
He says that four broadcasters have made offers for a UK deal with Matchroom, including Sky, and said a final decision has not been made.
“We’re in discussions and we may well extend that deal,” Hearn said. “Of course, we know DAZN are extremely aggressive in that space at the moment but you’re only really as powerful as your TV deal in this game.
“The reason we’ve been able to get to where we got is because of the backing of Sky and we don’t take that for granted.
“They’re been a huge part of our success and that’s why these conversations are very difficult at the moment.”
Sky still have one fight left on their deal with Anthony Joshua, so there is no chance of them being excluded from screening the Joshua-Tyson Fury fight, as long as that fight comes next, although Hearn said there would not be a problem fulfilling that agreement if they did walk away from Sky.
“We’re very close now to making a decision,” Hearn said. “We've had four offers come in for a new UK TV deal and of course one of those is from our existing partner and we will have a meeting with them next week when I get back just to see where we are at.
“It’s an extremely difficult decision for us but it’s flattering. But we’ve worked hard to get here. We really have built an incredible global business and that’s part of the decision-making process; the global landscape.”
The have been suggestions that if Matchroom leave Sky, their place could be taken by Wasserman, which recently agreed a deal to buy out Sauerland Event.
Hearn said he did not believe that would happen, although he said Wasserman would need a significant broadcast deal to be competitive.
“Anyone can come out and say they are going to take over boxing but without a significant TV deal you have absolutely no chance,” Hearn said. “You can also understand that if I was to make a broadcast move, it would be for a reason. We've got no reason to leave Sky outside of something that would change our life, our vision for the sport and our fighters' lives as well.
“I think it’s great that someone else is making a play in boxing but I don’t think it affects anything that we’re doing or anything in the UK space. People ask me about Triller and things like that – it’s basically that anyone who wants to stick money into this game is good news. In order to be a major force you need a major TV deal with a huge budget.
“I have seen a lot of people saying that (Wasserman are heading to Sky) but we haven't made any decisions yet on what we're going to do. Sky aren’t just going to replace us with a B-option, well not even a B-option, whatever option that is. They’re going to lose a huge powerhouse of subscription driver.”
Matchroom will be staging their first show in Uzbekistan this weekend as their global expansion continues. The Joseph Parker-Derek Chisora fight on May 1 will also be heading to Manchester, the first time they have promoted in the North of England since the start of the pandemic.
But he has his sights set of growing Matchroom’s power even more, saying he wants to make them boxing’s equivalent to the UFC.
“We’ve turned out business around in America,” he said. “We have Canelo Alvarez out there as well, we have a show in Uzbekistan, we were in Gibraltar last week, we are in Miami the week after next, then Barcelona, then Manchester for the pay-per-view on Sky, then we're in Dallas, then back in the UK for a show on May 15, then we're in Milan. It’s just unbelievable.
“We are the global force, we are probably the only global force. There’s no one else touching what we are doing or even making a charge globally. We are set to become the UFC of boxing and it's only a matter of time.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. 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.