Rocky Marciano, in dark trunks, has had thirty-six professional fights, thirty-one by knockout. For much of the 20th century, boxing was king. Names like Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Tyson, built upon the legacy of the likes of Braddock, Graziano, Louis and a legion of others, who electrified a sport that while still popular worldwide, has suffered a steady decline in this country. But now two Brits, father and son, Barry and Eddie Hearn, have come to America with dreams of breathing new life into the sweet science. Yeah. This is the sort of the big move for us really. We cracked the UK and now we’re trying to crack America as well, particularly with the boxing. Not easy with boxing. Very difficult. A lot of dead bodies on that road. Probably the hardest thing you could try and crack here. Ultimately, this is a huge card. Three world… Forty-year-old Eddie Hearn, is one half of Matchroom Sport, a global promotional empire born in the early eighties by his now 71-year-old father Barry The main man. Bar none. whose wily charm and brass-knuckle deals turned blue-collar sports into a pot of gold. The latest, a record one-billion contract to promote fights for DAZN Tick off all the sports that Matchroom is involved with in some way, shape or form. We have around 700 event days a year. Snooker. Obviously boxing. We do fishing programs. Come to daddy. We do bowling programs. We own the PGA Euro Pro Golf Tour. We do ping pong world championships. We of course own the world of darts. Magnificent! Nigel van Gerwen! Ah yes, darts. In the dozen sports they dominate, darts undoubtedly sums up the bulls-eye to their success. What did you do with darts that had never been done before? I looked on darts as WWE, but real. made sure the camera positions meant that a lot of people got seen on TV for one second. Oh astonishing! So when they went back to their normal lives, they told their friends. They spread the gospel because word of mouth is still better than any form of advertising, any form of media buys. Add in the party, add in the involvement of the fans where they become as much of the show as the players themselves. The ratings improve, so sponsors say, “Can we have some more?” So we sell out shows now one year ahead of the show being staged. Sold. Darts. Darts. Sold. 80,000 tickets sold in one day for next year’s World Darts Championships. 18,000? 80,000. 8 – 0 thousand. 8 – 0? 8 – 0 thousand tickets sold in one day and the reason being is people don’t want to miss a great show. Boxing fans in the states are just now getting a taste of what the Hearns have been selling for years. As Eddie grew up, Barry, a workaholic former accountant, groomed his son in his own image, a chip off the old block. I was always looking for the angle cause I grew up wanting to be rich. As simple as that. I didn’t want to be poor. And at the top of the hill was these big houses. “Oh shit! You know, I want one of them.” I didn’t know I was going to be able to go back and buy the entire town. If you’re not the smartest kid on the block, work harder than the smartest kid on the block. So what I’ve installed in Eddie is we don’t give up. We want to win every single argument out there. We will judge ourselves by budgets and profit and loss accounts, TV ratings, customer satisfaction. Put those all ingredients in, it’s just common sense, isn’t it? So tell me about the fight when Eddie was sixteen. You wanted to teach him a few lessons. He was a bit too cocky. Uh, and he was trouble. He was trouble. And I just wondered “Have I created something that I spent my early years fighting against?” So I needed to find out, not just love and kiss and happy birthday. I need to find out what type of person he really was. But I thought, “What’s he gonna do? What are we gonna do? Just move around?” Is he really gonna hit me? Yeah. Like, cause you wouldn’t do that to your son. Any normal person would you, you know, really? And the bell went I remember the buzzer and he sort of come out and he hasn’t got the greatest temper, it’s much more chilled now. And he’s coming in and I’m sort of backed up like this and he’s just you know, raining these shots down on me. I’m thinking, “Jesus. He’s for real!” So I just had to sort of take it back him up, and there’s one left up to the body and he took a knee, and I thought, “Hold on.” I felt quite bad, you know? And then he got up and he went for me again. And then there was two more and then it was…it was over. You know, I don’t think either of us are really Harvard school geniuses. An unprecedented crowd… Eddie, you’ve been incredibly successful in the UK. You had 90,000 in Wembley. 80,000 in Wales. So what have the other promoters been missing in the US that you found in the UK? What we’re finding out is that one boxing’s not particularly cool. I remember the first time we started playing music in between rounds. And he sort of turned, “What is this? What is this?” And I look around and everyone’s up, dancing, partying, you know? And of course they don’t develop the personalities… Look at this. Philly stand up! …and the brands of the fighters enough. All sports are about personalities. You need to identify the heroes, the villains, the good guys, the bad guys. We are in a soap opera world, a reality TV world, and that’s the audience we’ve got to aim for. I always say to my team, “Watch and follow the UFC in terms of what they do, how they position the sport, how the brand is in a sport,” and that’s exactly what we’re trying to do globally for Matchroom. Sweeping right! Eddie Hearn has been willing to take his fighters, such as Anthony Joshua… Oh, Joshua goes down! …and put them in competitive fights that are challenging to these guys. But what has the result been? The result has been compelling action in the ring. Matchroom is not only changing the game for fans, they’re looking to break the shackles that have long left boxers at the mercy of their promoters. I was criticized the other day for comparing boxing with the slave trade. And the reason why they criticized me is because they didn’t understand or have the experience to understand what is the history of boxing. The balance of power shifted and one of the reasons it shifted is because we’ve let it shift. Because I believe in terms of longevity of relationships, you need to give the fighter control and power. They’re the one going in there fighting. That’s my mindset. I’m, I’m working for you. Floyd Mayweather said once, “I’m not signing no f’n slave contract,” which is why I used that phrase. Because in the past, and I’m only going back 20-30 years, the fighters didn’t have any control The control was with the promoters. They generally abused that control. Mike Tyson lost $400 million. Joe Louis ended up as a greeter at a casino, one of the greatest heavyweights. This is unacceptable to me because all sportsmen with ability are my heroes. So the way it works now at the top end, the fighter owns the show. To date, the star of the Hearns’ show has been heavyweight Anthony Joshua, who’s already earned $60 million, plus an estimated $30 million more for his upcoming rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr. in Saudi Arabia. I’m fighting in front of so many people. When I’m getting punched, no one can feel it for me. So I have to explain to you how it felt and we have to work on making it better or avoiding that punch. So it’s important for that athlete to be heard. That’s my mentality when I work with a fighter. You’re the boss. And that’s very, very different. But they love that and they love to be involved in the decision making. Not so much that they tell me how to design a poster, or where the fight should be held, or when it should go on sale, or what the ticket prices should be, but keep them involved. And this showed that when I go in there, I’ve got to earn my buck. Ruiz mixes it up. Good uppercut and a hook puts Ruiz down! This isn’t like scripted. And we’ve got that relationship with Anthony Joshua as well. But you know the mindset now of the boxer, I mean I’m sort of renowned for being emotionally involved with fighters. Keep your chin down! If I’m emotionally invested in a fighter, I’ll do a much better job for them. In our forty years in the boxing business, we have never had one fighter take action against us for any misdemeanor. That’s forty years of integrity. The hardcore fans know exactly who we are. Yeah, Eddie Hearn’s the biggest promoter in boxing right now
for that brand. Definitely. You can’t know boxing in the UK without knowing Eddie Hearn, Barry Hearn. Because he’s just got that sort of, you know, he’s got an eye for talent and he knows how to put on a good show. The casual fans are the ones that don’t know about Matchroom. They don’t know about DAZN. That’s the big piece of the market and they’re the people we have to reach out to. It’s a long journey and it’s going to cost billions of dollars to do, but if it works, and I suggest it will in the same way that Amazon and Netflix will work with this new age consumer, they will create a global business the size of which, beyond even my rather creative imagination. Joshua with a ripping right hand.