This week’s big news is the announcement that Matchroom will not be renewing their agreement with Sky Sports from June.
The multi-million-pound deal, first agreed in 2012, saw Matchroom provide exclusive content to Sky Sports covering 120 fights per year. During this time, Eddie Hearn’s outfit put on some of the biggest UK shows in decades and have been instrumental in the global rise of heavyweight superstar, Anthony Joshua.
The next phase sees Matchroom Boxing working exclusively with DAZN. Described as the Netflix of sport, they have been working with Matchroom extensively in the US since 2018. Hearn’s established stable such as Conor Benn, Lawrence Okolie and Katie Taylor will fight on DAZN. However, it is thought current heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and heavyweight Dillian Whyte, the biggest PPV draws, will not be included in the deal.
Quite what Sky will now do to replace this content is causing the armchair fan to speculate widely.
Frank Warren, Matchroom’s closest domestic competitor, is in a long-term deal with BT Sport so that probably excludes them.
Other UK promoters without a TV deal are MTK Global, who manage a huge stable of fighters and also promote globally Tyson Fury and Billy Joe Saunders.
However, founded by Irishman Daniel Kinahan, the organisation has had to deflect rumours of links with organised crime on a BBC Panorama documentary, so it’s unlikely that Sky will be prepared to take the negative flak of working with them.
A curve ball entrant would be the charismatics Kalle Saurland and brother Nisse who have just sold their company to the huge Wasserman organisation, a worldwide sports business, in a multi-million-pound deal. Although they currently only have handful of UK boxers, 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.
Affectionately labelled “small-hall promoters” like my own Neilson Boxing could very well play a part in the new Sky Sports landscape. With the TV budgets they have, we could work together and put on some fantastic content to fill the void left by Matchroom, I better make sure they have my number.