NEW YORK--If anything is clear as DAZN-USA approaches its first full year in the boxing market, it’s that the sports streaming platform isn’t afraid to spend any amount of money to secure the biggest available fights.
Emphasis is on “available,” a point that promoter Eddie Hearn—DAZN’s primary boxing content provider—can’t stress enough when it comes to fighters signed to other outlets. It’s for that reason that he won’t choose to make it his responsibility to bring to fruition a suggested welterweight fight between unbeaten titlist and pound-for-pound entrant Terence Crawford and former titlist Kell Brook.
“That’s for Top Rank to pay,” Hearn told BoxingScene.com and other reporters in New York shortly after his latest event at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater of such a fight coming together. “He’s their fighter, he’s on ESPN and he can’t fight anywhere else. But they’re running out of money over there this time of the year.”
The idea of such a battle was first floated late last year, shortly after Kell Brook’s homecoming points win over Michael Zerafa in Sheffield, England. By that point, it was clear that a long-awaited grudge match with heated domestic rival Amir Khan wouldn’t see the light of day, and with Brook’s name having already been mentioned as a more desirable alternative to originally targeted opponent Luis Collazo.
The assignment ultimately went to Khan, who was stopped in six rounds this past April in the main room at MSG when he refused to continue after being hit with a shot to the thigh. The bout topped a poorly performing Pay-Per-View event, with Crawford having not fought since.
Crawford (35-0, 26KOs) will likely resurface on Dec. 14, also at MSG versus undefeated mandatory challenger Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17KOs). The two-time Olympian from Lithuana just doesn’t quite move the needle, only part of the reason why such a bout remains in discussion rather than already finalized. Still, Crawford isn’t left with much choice—returning to PPV clearly isn’t an option on the Top Rank/ESPN side, and not agreeing to fight on Dec. 14 will leave him with one fight in 2019.
“They’re telling everybody they’ve got to wait until next year,” notes Hearn, whose comments come as ESPN announced a slew of bouts covering a four-week stretch from Oct. 18-Nov. 9, but with only three more dates left on the year beyond that. “(Unbeaten, unified 140-pound titlist) Jose Ramirez is another guy who told everybody ‘I was injured but I can box in December, but I was told I got to wait until next year.’ He’s a unified world champion and they can’t give him another date.”
Ramirez and his team accepted a lucrative offer from Hearn to fight then-unbeaten titlist Maurice Hooker this past July in Arlington, Texas. The bout took place on DAZN, with Ramirez and Top Rank collecting a reported $4 million fight package and with the unbeaten Californian walking away with a 6th round knockout and two titles in tow.
Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing outfit has also sent its clients to the ESPN+ side, the most recent examples being Anthony Crolla and Luke Campbell in back-to-back fights with unified lightweight titlist and pound-for-pound entrant Vasiliy Lomachenko. A similar process would await Brook in the event he can land a Crawford fight.
“Terence Crawford boxed in APRIL He’s supposed to be pound-for-pound number one, they ain’t got a date yet,” points out Hearn. “They’re talking about December, that’s being out of the ring (eight) months.
“But that’s not for me to pay Terence Crawford money.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox