Boxing’s first $1bn rights deal and what it means for UK pubs

By Stuart Stone contact

- Last updated on GMT

Historic deal: Matchroom Sport's deal with The Perform Group will see more fights broadcast in the UK.
Historic deal: Matchroom Sport's deal with The Perform Group will see more fights broadcast in the UK.
Last week, Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport - which promotes British stars such as Anthony Joshua, Amir Khan and Kell Brook - signed a landmark promotional boxing deal with digital sports content and media company Perform Group.

The eight-year deal will see Matchroom Boxing’s stateside branch stage 16 fight nights per year across the US with Perform Group’s DAZN platform – described as the “Nexflix of sports”.

As part of the deal, Sky Sports has been awarded the rights to the 16 Matchroom fight nights, on top of its existing schedule of UK bouts.

The lucrative partnership strengthens Hearn’s hand in enticing some of the world’s best fighters operating in the United States to his cross-Atlantic promotional stable and broadcasting their contests to a UK audience.

Not only is the number of fight nights on the rise but the quality of fighter on display will likely increase.

‘Even bigger schedule’

Even before factoring in Matchroom’s deal, the numbers behind boxing in British pubs are staggering.

Licensees now average an extra £900 of revenue when showing pay-per-view boxing, with more than one million people flocking to British pubs for Anthony Joshua’s 11th​-round win over Wladimir Klitschko – with 280 additional pints sold per venue that showed the bout, according to MatchPint.

The new deal looks set to further cement boxing’s place at the heart of a sports pub’s offering.

Tracy Harrison, director of marketing at Sky Business, commented: “The new deal offers Sky Sports customers an even bigger schedule of boxing and even more opportunities to pack their pubs and make more money. 

“Bringing more big name fights from America, the deal follows a hugely successful year of boxing on Sky Sports which has seen Anthony Joshua become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, Tony Bellew defeat David Haye for a second time, and the return of Amir Khan.”

 ‘Mouth-watering fights’

Paul Eastwood of two-time winner of the Great British Pub Award’s sport pub of the year, the Famous 3 Kings in Fulham, west London, has seen boxing become a huge earner for his site.

“Boxing has become absolutely massive over the last few years and will continue to grow with some possible mouth-watering fights out there.

“I think if you had asked many publicans five or six years ago if some of their biggest taking nights would be boxing, they would have laughed at you.

“For us any of the recent Joshua fights, Fury v Klitschko and Haye v Bellew, Mayweather v Pacquiao and even Mayweather v McGregor have been absolutely huge, giving us some of our biggest hour-by-hour sales and year-on-year uplift as a pub.

“For me, boxing really kicked in from the Froch v Groves fights a few years ago, which really caught the imagination.

“I think the reason boxing is so big at the moment is that there are so many big personalities and big bouts across all weights of boxing. The amount of British fighters - especially in the heavyweight division - at the top of their game and in multiple weights is also higher than it has ever been, with some fantastic all-British bouts.  

"With fighters such as Joshua, Haye, Bellew, Whyte, Chisora, Fury, Brook, Frampton, Khan, Groves, Eubank Jnr, Billy Joe Saunders, and Nicola Adams in the women's boxing, it is something of a golden age for British fighters.

“There are still lots of fights out there the public would love to see - Joshua v Wilder, Khan v Brook, the upcoming Fury fight - so I think there is still a long way to go with boxing for the pub trade.

“With Joshua in his prime and a massive draw with whoever he fights, I think we can carry on riding the boxing money train for a while longer yet.”

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