Although another successful year around the globe on DAZN, British fans have been left wondering if they have received value for money from Matchroom on the platform.
Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom has been one of, if not the biggest driving force in British boxing over the last decade, that is a fact! Since the move to DAZN last year however, it does feel their priorities have shifted slightly. More emphasis seems to lie globally, as appose to the UK.
British Saturday night fight cards on DAZN are considerably less frequent than they were when Matchroom’s fights were on Sky Sports. With a monthly subscription and now an additional PPV model for certain fights, it’s understandable why British fans aren’t completely convinced with the move to DAZN.
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Famed for propelling the careers of British stars such as Anthony Joshua, Kell Brook, Callum Smith, Josh Warrington, and Tony Bellew to name a few, big Saturday fight nights were guaranteed under Matchroom on Sky. It was a fantastic place for young British talent to make themselves a household name but has the global market now become a priority?
The change of direction since moving to DAZN has seen the likes of AJ vs Usyk 2, Canelo vs GGG 3, Canelo vs Bivol, Taylor vs Serrano, and Estrada vs Chocolatito 3 all land on the platform under Matchroom in 2022. Matchroom has truly become a global force in boxing.
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The Saturday fight nights in British boxing have been delivered with many more cards from Queensbury on BT and with BOXXER filling the void left on Sky Sports. Both have a wealth of British talent and BOXXER especially seems to be focused on developing young UK fighters such as the likes of Adam Azim (7-0, 6 KOs).
More spotlight has been put on this recently with Lawrence Okolie (18-0, 14 KOs) who has been openly critical of his promotors at Matchroom as well as his management team, 258 Management. The reasons behind it are still unknown but he appears to be BOXXER bound with promotor Ben Shalom admitting in recent interviews he has held talks. Eddie Hearn has stated that Okolie has 1 fight left on his contract, something that Shalom has said he does not believe to be true so there’s still plenty to unfold with that and it could even end up in the courts!
Okolie would not be the first British star to make the promotional jump back to Sky. Natasha Jonas (13-2, 8 KOs) moved in 2021 and has gone on to win 3 world titles this past year. She and her team have also been openly critical of the way they felt they were treated under their previous promotional outfit. Lerrone Richards (16-0, 3 KOs) is another who agreed to a 1-fight deal with BOXXER after leaving Matchroom.
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The flip side is that Matchroom can still clearly draw in young British talent and has done with recent signings, Team GB’s Mark Dickenson and Pat McCormack. Both were in action in 6-round bouts on the Dillian Whyte vs Jermaine Franklin undercard with each of them winning with a points decision.
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When Matchroom do put on a British card, they still draw in the crowds due to putting on strong undercards to support their main event. This was apparent on a weekend when Matchroom, Queensbury, BOXXER, and Wasserman all had shows on in London. Eddie Hearn’s card had clearly drawn up the most interest and it appeared they could have had more fans than the other shows put together!
With all this being said it’s clear to see Matchroom still have a big part to play in the British scene but it would be nice to see them put more focus on it and give the UK fans more prime-time events. BOXXER has stepped in as a platform to earn your stripes whilst getting good exposure and Queensbury have had some very good cards this year so it is a time where we can be hopeful of being spoilt for choice as we go into 2023.
By Lee Browne