Future Of Boxing: $1B Strategy Seeks To Excite Fans, ‘Reignite Boxing’ In The U.S.
Thursday, May 10, 2018 at 10:42PM
NYSportsJournalism.com in Boxing, John Skipper, Matchroom Boxing, Perform Group, sports marketing

By Barry Janoff

May 10, 2018: That did’t take long.

One day after naming former ESPN president John Skipper as its new executive chairman, Perform Group has signed a joint-venture deal with Matchroom Boxing with the intent to “re-ignite the sport of boxing in the U.S. for fans.”

The eight-year pact was put at $1 billion and called “the biggest-ever deal in boxing.”

Global sports media company Perform Group and Matchbox Boxing, both based in the U.K., said they have ”have worked closely together for over ten years.”

Eddie Hearn, managing director for Matchroom Boxing (pictured, middle), and Simon Denyer, CEO for Perform Group (pictured, right), unveiled  the joint venture — to be known as Matchroom Boxing USA — Thursday at a press conference in New York.

The nucleus of the pact will see Matchroom Boxing USA promote 16 fights a year with boxing’s “biggest stars at the best venues across America.”

DAZN, Perform Group’s live and on-demand streaming service, will be the exclusive U.S. broadcast partner for the 16 U.S. fights, in addition to Matchroom’s existing 16 fight nights in the U.K.

Early marketing support is labeling the platform, “The Future of Boxing.”

According to Hearn, “This is a dream scenario for us. We can build a formidable team of fighters and also put our stamp on events from production to talent to in arena experience.”

He said the plan is to make DAZN the “home of boxing, and with 32 big fight nights already confirmed from the U.S. and U.K. we are nicely on our way.”

Although the sport maintains a core audience, boxing’s popularity in the U.S. has not fully impacted  casual and non-boxing fans — and potential marketing partners —  due in part to the rise of UFC and MMA.

This week, Walt Disney Co. and UFC signed a five-year media rights pact, valued at $750M, for exclusive UFC content on ESPN+ as well as programming to air on ESPN networks, social and digital platforms, beginning January 2019, with 12-fight cards to live-stream under the banner, UFC on ESPN+ Fight Night.

Matchbox Boxing believes it has the star power to attract audiences en masse.

Leading Matchroom Boxing’s roster is British heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs), who won the gold medal in the super-heavyweight division at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and currently holds the heavyweight titles for the IBF, WBA, IBO and WBO.

Joshua had one of the top fights of 2017, an 11-round TKO of Wladimir Klitscho in front of 90,000 people in London’s Wembley Stadium. Joshua’s last three fights had a combined live gate of more than 250,000, according to Matchbox Boxing.

Matchroom Boxing made its first foray into the U.S. boxing scene this past September, signing  Brooklyn, NY-born Daniel Jacobs (34-2, 29 KOs) — who lost his WBA middleweight title to Gennady Glolovkin in 2017 — and promoting two fights in New York.

“This is a historic moment for Matchroom and the sport of boxing,” said Hearn.

“Since our expansion to the U.S., we have been looking for a partner that shares our vision and that can give us the volume of dates and rights fees required to build the strongest stable in world boxing and take it to a new level.”

"We can build a formidable team of fighters and also put our stamp on events from production to talent to in arena experience.”

According to Skipper (pictured above, left), “DAZN has already proven itself in Japan, Germany and Canada as the best platform for delivering great live sport to passionate fans. It’s time to bring DAZN to America, and the amazing events we have planned with Matchroom is a great place to start.”

Denyer said that Perform Group “has a rich history of long term strategic partnerships with the best rights holders in world. I’m excited about working with Matchroom; we share the same passion and vision for reigniting boxing in the U.S.

“It’s a better deal for everyone — especially fight fans.”

Matchroom Boxing said it has promoted more than 100 boxing events over the past five years, with 57 World title fights, as part of an exclusive broadcast deal with Sky Sports.

PHOTO: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA

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