by Shaun Brown
Eddie Hearn has an agreement in place with six fighters as part of his $1 billion dollar deal with Perform Group's sports streaming service DAZN.
The eight year deal, which was announced earlier this month, has saw Hearn attack the U.S boxing market - with all eyes on any fighter who does not have a promotional deal at the moment.
Hearn, like a football manager with the biggest transfer kitty in the top tier, is on the verge of agreeing deals with another 12 fighters ahead of his squad announcement in June. From there the American project begins in earnest with DAZN, with three shows to kick things off.
"Likely one will be New York and one will be L.A," he told Boxing Scene.
"So we're looking at New York or L.A in September, New York or L.A - whichever one we don't go to - in October and then Vegas in November. Our deal is 12 big shows and four really big shows [each year]. The first monster will be in Vegas in November.
"You're going to see us signing somewhere between three and five big names, and then you're going to see us sign a lot of other big names -- but maybe chief support guys. Then you're going to see us signing half a dozen youngsters, probably amateurs that are going to be turning over. You're going to see us sign some real good prospects who might be 8-10-12-15 and 0, and bringing those on. You're going to see us working with guys who are in last chance saloons, but they don't care who they fight, and they'll just go to war with anyone. It'll be a real mix. You're going to see us using some of our British stars, some of our young stars from the U.K that we'll be dropping in."
One name who looks like not signing up with Hearn's American dream is four-weight world champion Adrien Broner. The 28-year-old from Ohio with the deal offered by Hearn: $6.75 million for three fights over one year. Broner referred to the offer, with a hashtag, as a slave deal.
"Broner putting that stuff out really spurred on probably another 30 or 40 calls from guys who said 'Well I'll take that deal'," Hearn told 'Scene.
"I don't wont to get into a position where we can't provide these guys with what we say we can, and one of our big selling points is we're given you activity. So, if you're a Charlo or a Broner, from what you saw with the offer, you fight three times a year. If you don't want to you don't have to, but one of the benefits of being with us is how often you can box. We only want 4-5 guys like that, because they're going to be boxing three times a year and we've got 16 shows."
Hearn arrived on the U.K promotional scene armed with Audley Harrison nearly eight years ago. A failed gamble, against then WBA heavyweight champion David Haye, didn't stop the likes of Darren Barker, Kell Brook and Carl Froch joining forces with the man known as 'Barry Hearn's son' at the time.
Everything has snowballed since and turned into an avalanche of success, thanks to helping guide the likes of Barker and many, many more to world title glory. Throw in multiple stadium shows, fronted by Anthony Joshua, with seismic crowds and his toes dipped in the American market with Daniel Jacobs, and things couldn't be going any better for the 38-year-old. However, there were obstacles in the beginning. The type of barriers which he is seeing now as the dip looks like turning into a big splash Stateside.
"At the moment you get the haters," he said.
"I saw some comments from Richard Schaefer 'Who's going to want to sign with Eddie Hearn, this new platform with a guy who doesn't understand the U.S boxing market?'. Do me a favour. What are you doing at the moment? Absolutely nothing. Who are you going to want to sign with? All the sort of restriction and barriers that I faced in the U.K, I'm just seeing them all again. So promoters saying 'He doesn't know what he's doing, it's not the U.K...' We're getting loads of people trying to block us at the moment which is good fun, in a sick way, because it's part of the challenge, and we expected it.
"We're not looking for conflict, or looking to poach fighters... that's just a million miles away from where we want to be. It seems like virtually everyone who doesn't have a promotional contract, wants to know at least the number from us. Some probably aren't going to sign, but just out of curiosity want to know the deal. It's going to take one big name to make the jump and they're gonna follow like dominoes."
Hearn does have one big name in mind, not for fighting, but for broadcast duties. Hearn, Matchroom and DAZN are going in with a blank canvas and will be discussing everything from the lighting, the staging, the ring walks to who they might want on commentary duties or even as part of a build-up show beforehand.
"One guy I'd love to use is Sugar Ray Leonard. He's one of my heroes. 'No problem. Let's speak to Sugar Ray Leonard' (Perform and DAZN would say).
"It's going to be a mind-blowing set-up in that respect, of not only when we announce the stable and the fights, but the talent behind the shows and the uniqueness of the broadcast. We're going to come on air at 6pm and we might even do a build-up show from 4pm to 6pm talking boxing. Because we've got complete free reign and free platform to do whatever we want. It's a lot of work but fortunately Perform and DAZN are full of hugely intellectual people, and creative people, and everyone's really getting their teeth stuck in."
Shaun Brown covers British boxing for Boxing Scene. Contact him on Twitter @sbrown2pt0