Promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport was stunned like everyone else, when HBO confirmed on Thursday their decision to walk away from professional boxing after 45 years of live fight programming.
HBO's long association with the sport began in 1973 when it carried George Foreman's stunning knockout of reigning heavyweight world champion Joe Frazier.
The network pioneered modern pay-per-view coverage of boxing. The fighters who have appeared in more than 1,000 bouts aired by HBO include a who's who of the sport's biggest names.
Most recently HBO produced the highly anticipated rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin for the unified middleweight title, which took place on September 15 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
"Going forward into 2019, we will be pivoting away from programming live boxing on HBO," HBO Sports said in a statement. "As always, we will remain open to looking at events that fit our programming mix. This could include boxing, just not for the foreseeable future."
HBO sports noted in its statement that boxing is now available on a "host of networks and streaming services."
"In some cases, this programming is very good. But from an entertainment point of view, it's not unique," the company said, adding that it wants to focus on "storytelling" suited to unscripted series, documentaries, reality programming, sports journalism and event specials.
The only remaining fight card scheduled to air on HBO is on October 27 at Madison Square Garden, headlined by an International Boxing Federation middleweight title bout between Daniel Jacobs and Sergiy Derevyanchenko.
Hearn's company, who handles Jacobs, is co-promoting the final HBO card.
“It’s a shame to see a brand so synonymous with the sport of boxing leave,” said Hearn to the Los Angeles Times.
“Ultimately, they lost their desire to fight on in a marketplace that is going to be ferocious in the next twelve months. If you don’t have the pockets or the appetite in this climate, then you can’t be a major player and I can understand their decision. They have done an amazing job for the sport.”
A few months ago, Hearn announced an exclusive eight year deal to provide boxing content to streaming service DAZN. Top Rank has an exclusive content deal with ESPN, and Premier Boxing Champions have content deals with Showtime and FOX.