Al Haymon? Bob Arum? Oscar De La Hoya? They’ve Got Nothing On Eddie Hearn
By Sean Crose
You might not know who Eddie Hearn is, but if you’re reading Boxing Insider, you should become familiar with the name. Why? Because he’s the guy who just this past weekend singlehandedly proved that boxing isn’t dead. That might sound like hyperbole, but it isn’t. For Hearn turned Froch-Groves II, a boxing match featuring a couple of English fighters who weren’t even at the top of their respective division, into a highly touted international event.
Sleight of hand? No way. Just a thrilling matchup that was properly hyped. The battle brought a reported 80,000 fans to Wembley Stadium in London. What’s more, it’s reportedly earned a million pay-per-view buys. That’s one million buys – far more than Floyd Mayweather likely did for his last fight…and far, far more than Manny Pacquiao did for his.
Why the huge success? Well, the Englishman Hearn realized something that many American promoters seemed to have forgotten: that exciting bouts trump exciting individuals. Impressive as he was, people wanted to see Mike Tyson fight the likes of Larry Holmes and Michael Spinks in his heyday, rather than opponents everyone knew for sure he would destroy.
“What we are doing here,” Hearn told The Guardian before Saturday’s bout, “is reaching out to the masses and saying ‘This is a moment of British boxing history and you need to be there.’” His strategy obviously proved to be successful – enormously so. Not only was the fight the toast of Great Britain, the excitement leading up to the bout ended up being internationally contagious.
HBO picked up the brawl so viewers in the states could watch it live. What’s more, hashtags pertaining to Froch-Groves II ended up dominating Twitter in America. Hearn was successful in more than just the hype department, however. He also presented the world with two boxers who could deliver the goods. Froch and Groves not only had personal animosity to sell, they also made sure to give the fans their money’s worth during the fight itself.
For it may not have been a great battle, but it was certainly a very good one. The fact that it was punctuated by a brilliant single punch knockout, courtesy of Froch, made it all the more memorable to all who watched. Ask yourself this: when was the last time a major fight in Vegas ended in a knockout? I’m not talking Canelo-Angulo, either. I’m talking a MAJOR fight.
The truth is that you have to go all the way back to December of 2012, when Marquez smoked Pacquiao with that viscous shot, to find a huge pay per view event out of Vegas that delivered – really delivered – in the excitement department. And if you expect the likes of Mayweather and Pacquiao to go anywhere under the full twelve rounds in the near future, you’re probably mistaken.
The point here is that America’s heavy hitters in the fight game have been promoting individuals, not boxing matches. It’s paid off well for them, too – but only to a point. Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza can brag on Twitter that a Vegas fight will ultimately bring down more green than a London fight will. What Espinoza can’t say, however, is that a Hearn-type strategy of presenting terrific bouts wouldn’t greatly strengthen Showtime Boxing’s bottom line.
Yet Showtime seems to be in bed with Al Haymon, a man who at least appears to be the anti-Hearn. It may not be true, but Haymon certainly gives the impression that we wants his fighters to risk as little as possible while earning as much as possible. That type of strategy may make a handful of fighters truly rich – but it probably won’t ever sell out Wembley Stadium.