Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn’s deal to provide boxing content for DAZN, the all-sports streaming service about to launch in the United States, will kick off with live coverage of unified heavyweight world titleholder Anthony Joshua’s defense against Alexander Povetkin.
Joshua and Povetkin were on hand at a news conference Tuesday in New York, where Hearn announced the fight would appear on DAZN as well as the signing of several fighters, including Jessie Vargas, Demetrius Andrade, Danny Roman and Maurice Hooker, who will fight on the DAZN cards. Hearn also announced the first two cards that will take place in the U.S.
DAZN executives unveiled the monthly cost: $9.99 with a 30-day free trial available and subscriptions that can be canceled at any time. Although DAZN — which is available in countries such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Japan and Canada, will launch in the U.S. on Sept. 10 — the boxing action begins with the heavyweight title fight card on Sept. 22 at Wembley Stadium in London, where British superstar Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) will make his seventh title defense against mandatory challenger Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs), of Russia, in a fight that was made official on Monday.
“The biggest star in world boxing will be launching the DAZN platform,” Hearn said of Joshua.
Joshua’s American broadcast deal with Showtime expired in March and it has been widely speculated since the Hearn-DAZN deal was first announced that he would fight on the service.
“It’s a new era for broadcasting. Everything we do is always refreshing and new, so it was only right we be part of this,” Joshua said before facing off with Povetkin.
Hearn and DAZN announced their deal in May — $1 billion over eight years (though only two years are guaranteed) — under which the service will stream 32 Matchroom cards per year, 16 taking place in the U.S. in addition to the 16 Hearn already promotes each year in the United Kingdom.
But Hearn had to go out and sign fighters to fill the American cards. After many of the top fighters not signed to promoters turned down his overtures — mostly the bigger names associated with adviser/manager Al Haymon, including Deontay Wilder, Errol Spence Jr., Jermall and Jermell Charlo and Adrien Broner — Hearn signed several others down the pecking order.
Among them are former junior welterweight and welterweight world titlist Vargas (28-2-1, 10 KOs), of Las Vegas; former two-time junior middleweight titleholder Andrade (25-0, 16 KOs), of Providence, Rhode Island; junior featherweight world titlist Roman (25-2-1, 9 KOs), of Los Angeles; junior welterweight titlist Hooker (24-0-3, 16 KOs), of Dallas; and light heavyweight world titleholder Artur Beterbiev (12-0, 12 KOs), a Russian who fights out of Montreal.
To attract some talent, Hearn had to enter into co-promotional deals for Roman — a five-fight deal over two years — with his longtime promoter, Thompson Boxing; Hooker, with Roc Nation Sports; and Beterbiev, with Yvon Michel.
Hearn is also in the process of finalizing a two-fight deal to co-promote heavyweight contender Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller (21-0-1, 18 KOs) with his other two promoters, Dmitry Salita and Greg Cohen.
Miller, a possible future opponent for Joshua, was late for the news conference and interrupted when Joshua and Povetkin faced off near the end of the formal program. Joshua, usually calm and mild-mannered, was ticked off when Miller began shouting at him.
“You little b—-, who the f— are you talking to?” Joshua yelled at Miller. “You’re late. No respect. I’ll punch you right in your mouth. Shut the f— up. Running your mouth every minute. Shut the f— up and get off the stage you little b—-.”
The first U.S.-based card will take place on Oct. 6 at the Wintrust Arena at DePaul University in Chicago. It will feature welterweight Vargas in the main event and will also include middleweight Andrade; Miller; Beterbiev in a mandatory defense against England’s Callum Johnson (17-0, 12 KOs); and unified women’s lightweight titleholder Katie Taylor (9-0, 4 KOs), of Ireland, against Cindy Serrano (27-5-3, 10 KOs), of Brooklyn, New York. Taylor first has a defense against Kimberly Connor on July 28 in London.
“I’m looking forward to this great project,” Vargas said. “I’m looking forward to giving you a show, headlining some of the greatest fights of the year, and you will get just that.”
Andrade recently bought out his contract from co-promoters Star Boxing and Banner Promotions and talked about deals with Top Rank and Hearn before signing with Hearn this week.
“This is a proud moment. I’m ready to take over,” said Andrade, who is the mandatory challenger for world titleholder Billy Joe Saunders. “I’m ready to do what I have to do. Eddie is going to push me where I need to be pushed and I am going to push myself.”
The second card will take place Oct. 20 in the Los Angeles area, possibly the StubHub Center in Carson, California, and will include Roman defending his 122-pound world title against England’s Gavin McDonnell (20-1-2, 5 KOs), who has won four fights in a row since losing a decision in a title shot against Rey Vargas in February 2017. Hearn said he also hopes to include another world title fight on the card — Hooker’s mandatory defense against Alex Saucedo (28-0, 18 KOs), but a deal still needs to be made with Saucedo promoter Top Rank or the fight will go to a purse bid.
Hearn also announced the signing of three top amateurs brought to him by manager Keith Connolly: Brooklyn heavyweight Nkosi Solomon, Brooklyn middleweight Nikita Ababiy and Staten Island, New York welterweight Reshat Mati, the 2018 National Golden Gloves champion. All will make their pro debuts on DAZN cards.
DAZN plans to stream all of the bouts live from each card as well as have them available on demand.
“When you get DAZN, you’ll get all the fights,” CEO James Rushton said. “We won’t stash our best matchups for PPV, linear TV or a higher-tier package. And you’re going to get the entire card live, no matter the time zone and without constraints for one affordable price.”
In addition to the deal for Matchroom Boxing events, DAZN recently announced it has acquired American rights to the three tournaments planned for the second season of the World Boxing Super Series that begins this fall.