Eddie Hearn apparently isn’t feeling much schadenfreude from the pending death knell of a competitor.
The Matchroom Boxing head somberly greeted the news on Tuesday that Showtime will no longer broadcast boxing—a programming staple on the pay cable network for nearly four decades—after the end of the year.
The decision was made by Paramount Global, the parent company of Showtime (and BoxingScene.com). The entire Showtime Sports department will be eliminated as a result.
Five years ago, HBO, a longtime home for top boxing and pay cable network like Showtime, exited the sport under similar corporate conditions.
When asked about the development, Hearn, whose company has an output deal with the streaming platform DAZN, made it clear he believes that the sport as a whole will be “worse off” without Showtime offering its platform to fighters. Hearn, of course, has long criticized Showtime and its content partner Premier Boxing Champion over the years, and has been involved in well-publicized feuds with Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza, who will reportedly be among the layoffs.
“Look, a lot of people don’t get on with people in boxing, but you’ve also got to look at the bigger picture,” Hearn told FightHype.com. “It’s not great news for boxing. It’s just a sign of the future and a sign of the way content is being distributed and delivered to fight fans and that’s via streaming. We saw that a couple of years ago, we made our own move to build those partnerships and those relationships, but boxing will be worse off without Showtime as it was worse off without HBO. So, there’s a lot of people championing Stephen Espinoza losing his job and boxing not being part of [Showtime]. I know we never really got on that well, but he’s done a good job.
“I predicted this two, three years ago and said it’s coming, but one of the reasons why it has lasted so long is because people are stubborn. When I said it a couple of years ago, I knew those discussions were taking place for them to leave boxing, but Stephen did a great job and wouldn’t give in and he fought for boxing. He fought for competition as well, but he also believed in the product. One of the reasons why it went on a year or two more than anticipated is because they put on great shows.
“Ironically, the news comes in one of their best years in terms of bigger fights but it’s just the future of the traditional broadcaster that doesn't lend itself, in my opinion, to the audience anymore.”
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.