MIAMI – Eddie Hearn couldn’t help but smile wide when he learned Thursday that Triller blew away the sizable bid Matchroom Boxing made for the right to promote the Teofimo Lopez-George Kambosos Jr. fight.
As much as Hearn wanted to bring that lightweight title fight to DAZN, the streaming service that backed Matchroom’s bid, he considers Triller’s heavy investment in an active, elite boxer a great thing for the financial health of the sport. Triller, a video production and social networking app, won the IBF purse bid by offering a whopping $6,018,000 for the right to promote the lightweight title bout between Lopez and Kambosos, Lopez’s mandatory challenger.
Triller’s bid was more than the next two bids combined.
Matchroom bid $3,506,000. Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., Lopez’s promoter, bid $2,315,000 in an attempt to keep Lopez’s next fight on an ESPN platform.
“We put in the bid that we thought represented value for our platform,” Hearn told BoxingScene.com following the Canelo Alvarez-Avni Yildirim press conference Thursday at the JW Marriott. “So, what Triller did was pay too much money to be disruptive. We’ve done it before. F---, I’ve done it on dozens of fights when we started. Do you know what I mean? But Top Rank thought that fight represented $2.3 million. I thought the fight was worth $3.5 million. Triller didn’t really think. They just went, ‘We’ve gotta get it. And we’re gonna get it.’ Brilliant! Brilliant!”
DAZN disrupted the boxing marketplace when it announced it would launch in the United States in May 2018. It regularly paid above market value for fighters – most notably Canelo Alvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin – and instantly became competition for ESPN, FOX and Showtime in the U.S.
Hearn didn’t go as far as to label Triller the new DAZN, but Matchroom’s managing director couldn’t emphasize enough how much of a positive impact he thinks Triller’s involvement in boxing has made.
“To be honest with you, I don’t really know what they are,” Hearn said. “But I think as long as people are investing in the sport, as long as people are making people and other platforms, broadcasters realize that this sport is hot, great! Because I believe that people now have to look at Triller, people at DAZN, ESPN, the bosses, and go, ‘F---! Who are these guys? Wow! Another lot investing in the sport.’ If everybody disappears, where’s all the competition? And that’s not good for the fighters. Look at Teofimo – he’s Tweeting, ‘Yeah! Triller, baby!’ ”
Triller owner Ryan Kavanaugh told BoxingScene.com on Thursday that Brooklyn’s Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs), the IBF/WBA/WBC franchise/WBO lightweight champion, and Australia’s Kambosos (19-0, 10 KOs) will headline a pay-per-view show sometime in May. Triller made a massively successful debut in boxing November 28, when its pay-per-view show featuring the Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr. exhibition produced more than 1.6 million buys and generated roughly $80 million in pay-per-view revenue.
“It was a good day for boxing,” Hearn said. “We – you, me, us – we spend our life convincing people that boxing’s great. Right? But the truth is boxing is sexy as f---, because broadcasters, platforms, look at boxing and go, ‘We wanna be in boxing.’ So, how is the sport dead when ESPN, when FOX, when Showtime, when DAZN pop up and start spending crazy money? And now another crazy lot, in Triller, are in, spending loads of money because they look and identify boxing as a sport with growth potential.
“So, now you’re in a situation where this new disrupter, which was DAZN two years ago, and is now Triller, has come in with crazy money, spending money on the fight that the value doesn’t represent, but they don’t care. Because like us, we had to make an impact. And how good is it for Teofimo Lopez and George Kambosos? I mean, I’m so happy for George Kambosos. He just changed his life completely.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.