Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing have agreed a record-breaking deal with streaming service DAZN to replace Sky Sports as their exclusive broadcast partner in the UK, according to reports.
Newly promoted CEO Eddie Hearn had held an exclusive UK and Ireland deal with Sky Sports since 2012, extending it by six years in 2015 and showcasing 120 fights a year.
However, the five-year deal he has signed with DAZN strengthens his growing relationship with the broadcaster and will see many of Matchroom’s premium fighters added to the schedule.
Mike Coppinger of The Athletic reports the ‘ground-breaking deal is worth well into nine figures guaranteed’ and will come into place from July 1.
Hearn signed a £740 million deal with DAZN for 16 US shows in 2018, so this won't be Hearn's first encounter with the streaming app.
There are two more shows for Sky Sports and Matchroom Boxing, with Joshua Buatsi headlining a card at the AO Arena in Manchester on May 15, with the final Sky Sports show taking place in June.
The partnership does not include either Anthony Joshua or Dillian Whyte, with both heavyweight superstars needing to negotiate deals separately if they wish to appear on DAZN in the UK.
Joshua’s heavyweight title clash with Tyson Fury will be shown on both Sky Sports Box Office and BT Sport Box Office in the UK – the first time ever for a dual broadcast deal.
The first fight will be shown on DAZN worldwide elsewhere as Joshua has a contract of his own with the broadcaster, but it will be on ESPN+ PPV in the US.
Since Joshua is not involved in Matchroom’s new UK deal with DAZN, he could well fight on Sky Sports again even after the proposed double-header against Fury.
Could Sky replace Matchroom with another promotional outfit?
Frank Warren is the other big TV promoter in the UK and it's fair to naturally assume that his stable of talent would be a straight swap for Matchroom. However, Warren is locked into a deal with BT Sport and has no reason to leave the good partnership they have formed over the years.
MTK Global have the world's largest stable of fighters and host their own shows, broadcast live on IFL TV and ESPN+ in America. In normal circumstances, their shows are widespread across the UK, with regular nights at the Brentwood Centre in Essex and York Hall in London. MTK and Sky have worked together already when their successful Golden Contract tournament was televised. However, founded by Irishman Daniel Kinahan, the organisation has come under scrutiny recently with a damaging BBC Panorama documentary accusing Kinahan of having links to organised crime, so it’s unlikely that Sky will be prepared to work with them whilst their reputation is so untenable.
A curve ball entrant would be Sauerland Promotions headed by the charismatic brothers Kalle and Nisse Sauerland from Germany, who have just sold their company to the huge Wasserman organisation, a worldwide sports business in London, in a multi-million-pound deal. Although they currently only have handful of UK boxers, such as Chris Eubank Jr, they have promoted over 50 world champions and an exclusive Sky deal would give them the platform they need to go on a signing spree for UK talent. Their World Boxing Super Series has been a huge success worldwide, especially as these type of competitions have failed many times in the past. Their ability to deliver will stand them in very good stead of landing a deal with Sky Sports, which is something the huge Wasserman engine behind them could negotiate with ease.
There's lots of other UK promoters that operate on the small hall circuit, who would all relish a TV deal with the likes of Sky. The problem with this dream is that the small hall promoters' stables won't be big enough, although they weould be able to expand easily with Sky behind them, but the main stumbling block would be that their fighters are not well known or established enough.
The likes of Steve Goodwin for Goodwin Boxing; Joe Elfidh of Boxing Connected; Dennis Hobson of Hobson Promotions won't be able to fulfill obligations to host a certain amount of fights per year, perhaps with the exception of Goodwin who has a very large stable already, but consisting of only English and Area champions.