Eddie Hearn on Friday predicted a tough time for boxing, with fighters leaving the sport unless competitive cards and compelling promotional match-ups are made in the coming months, yet insisted his Matchroom business was aiming to become a global powerhouse and “the UFC of boxing”.
The UFC mixed martial arts business was sold for $4 billion (£3.2 billion) three years ago. As boxing made its comeback in the UK on Friday night, with the first live fight card since March 7, Hearn said that ambition would be key to the sport surviving while forced to stage fights behind closed doors.
“If you’ve run a poor business and your team is not dynamic and if your people haven’t bounced back with the same passion after three months, you may not bounce back. If all of a sudden promotional companies don’t bounce back or broadcasters don’t have content, boxing will soon be forgotten,” he said. “We’re trying to grow the business into a global powerhouse in boxing. I want to be the UFC of boxing.”
Hearn’s concern is for the smaller shows. “There will always be a demand for the mega fights. But that’s not our bread and butter. Our bread and butter is the 40 shows globally we do every year and building up to those bigger fights. We build stars and storylines.
“I feel there’s going to be a lot of casualties out of this, like the small-hall shows. They’re the beating heart of the sport and it’s hard enough doing small-hall shows with no TV rights when they’ve sold out. Try running that card with no crowd. They can’t and they won’t attempt to.
“So, what’s going to happen is fighters are going to leave the sport. Fewer fighters will see opportunities to go pro. We can’t go there. We’ve got to bounce back. I really hope the small-hall fights find a way to survive and thrive. But seeing that this year is unlikely.”