Exciting times! https://t.co/xyLWSVx746
— Katie Taylor (@KatieTaylor) May 10, 2018
Matchroom Boxing have recently announced a record breaking deal with Perform Group – ‘the digital leader in global sports media’ and the outfit behind the DAZN (pronounced Da Zone) sports streaming service.
The whopping $1,000,000,000 (that’s one BILLION dollars) deal gives Eddie Hearn 16 fight nights a year in America over the next eight years and will help him progress from being the biggest promoter in the UK to the leader of a global boxing brand offering massive purses and, hopefully, putting on massive shows.
It’s monumental for his stable and could change the promotional landscape in America as Hearn brings competition to the likes of Golden Boy, Top Rank, and Al Haymon.
At first glance, Matchroom’s record breaking deal wouldn’t appear to have major ramifications on this island but, on further thought, it could open massive doors for a number of pro punchers from Ireland.
Hearn is looking to create a Matchroom stable in the U.S. of about 30 top fighters ranging from world champions to elite amateur prospects. Aside from this then, and quite unlike his model in the UK, the promoter will need dozens and dozens more fighters to fill the 16 cards, both in the home and away corners.
The likes of Andy Lee, Matthew Macklin, Michael Conlan, and John Duddy in particular have shown how much of a draw Irish fighters can be on the East Coast in recent years.
There is no doubt Irish representation will help with regard to New York, Boston, and Chicago to a lesser extent, and there is no doubt Hearn will be aware of that. It’s also quite possible the promoter will be looking to make the Irish and UK-style party atmosphere as one of his unique selling points – so the more Irish you pack into a venue the better.
The likes of Conlan and Jason Quigley, Irish fighters with a presence Stateside, are somewhat out of reach considering they are signed to Top Rank and Golden Boy respectively, while Ireland’s youngest pro Aaron McKenna is also aligned to Oscar De La Hoya – although Matchroom’s mega money deal could benefit them in a way should their own promotional companies look to bump up purses to compete.
In a more direct sense, there are a number of Irish fighters that could benefit massively from the groundbreaking deal beyond current Matchroom fighters and world champions Ryan Burnett and Katie Taylor – both of whom can expect to get a lot more American exposure.
Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan
The Cork middleweight seems to be doing fine Stateside without needing Matchroom at present. It’s a case of one down and two to go for ‘Spike’ in a three fight Golden Boy deal. The final fight in that short-term deal was said to be against the winner of any potential Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez rematch – although a bout with the Mexican next has also been mooted.
If O’Sullivan doesn’t manage to end the year with a middleweight title, the talk is he would drop down to light middleweight and target titles here – a weight which promises to be a major component for Matchroom.
Hearn is already aware of the superbly moustached middle having already tried to use him as an opponent for Jacobs. Having fought on ESPN and HBO, not to mention the fact he was quite publicly touted as a potential May 5th foe for Golovkin, means the Paschal Collins-trained fighter has one of the highest Stateside profiles of any active Irish boxer at present.
O’Sullivan is part of Ken Casey’s Murphys Boxing promotional outfit and the Boston-based group could be a major winner from the DAZN deal.
Over the years, Murphys have worked with everyone from Al Haymon to Oscar De La Hoya and it seems more than possible that a link will be developed with Hearn which would benefit a number of Irish fighters – Niall Kennedy and TJ Doheny most prominently.
Wexford heavyweight Kennedy is perhaps the perfect fighter for a U.S. audience – a humble big man from the down the country, a member of an An Garda Síochána with an impressive skill set, and apparently a distant relative of the most famous Irish-American of all time, John F Kennedy.
The resurgence of the heavyweight division globally leaves room for stars to be built and worthy names are needed as ‘keep busy opponents’ or as tests for fringe world level operators. Indeed, Hearn has definitely shown interest in building possible foes for Anthony Joshua having signed Dillian Whyte, Big Baby Miller, and Luis Ortiz at various times. The Matchroom boss has also worked with Dave Allen, Dereck Chisora, and even used David Price on his shows in recent years.
Kennedy would fancy himself against most of those operators and should certainly interest a promoter trying to build in the States. Hearn is aware of the New England champ and had lined him up as an opponent for former title challenger Artur Szpilka last month but the Pole pulled out.
Before the Summer is out, Doheny could have the world at his feet. The Portlaoise native is mandatory for IBF super bantamweight world champion Ryosuke Iwasa and will challenge the Japanese fighter for his title in the Land of the Rising Sun before the sun sets on the Summer.
Considering he already has the two Irish world champions a third might appeal, especially as he could provide a domestic rival to Ryan Burnett should the Belfast bantam ever move up in weight. Hearn is also aware of the world-level super bantamweight as, just seven fights into the southpaw’s career, he offered Doheny the chance to fight Scott Quigg.
Matchroom USA are not just looking to sign up established world-level fighters and will be aiming to develop champions from the start of their pro career to the end. There are a number of Irish amateurs who are said to be considering pro moves including Sean McComb and Steven Donnelly and the chance to relocate and be built Stateside would be one which would be hard to ignore.
Other potential amateurs that could make a splash in America include explosive middleweights Caoimhin Agyarko Hynes and Brett McGinty as well as European bronze medalist Dean Walsh at welterweight.
Dennis Hogan [27(7)-1(0)-1]
The light middleweight division is one which looks like it will feature prominently in this new deal. Hearn promotes former welterweight champ Kell Brook, and has already stated his desire to sign champions Jermell Charlo and Jarrett Hurd. The division’s other champion, and Hogan’s current target, Jaime Munguia is also not aligned to a major U.S. promoter.
The Kildare workhorse is known to Hearn who allegedly wanted him as a comeback opponent for Brook and it would not be surprising for Hogan and his team to receive a few more calls over the coming months.
Darragh Foley [15(8)-2(0)]
Ranked #6 with the WBA, the Blanchardstown light welterweight is certainly TV friendly with big power and a big personality. While he is hoping for a slot in the World Boxing Super Series, this is somewhat unlikely.
However, with the division cleared out through both weight changes and the tournament, light welterweight is something of a blank slate outside the WBSS and Hearn and Matchroom may try to build a contender out of what’s left. This would potentially open a door for the Sydney-based Foley who intends to branch out from Australia in his next bout.
Gary Cully [4(2)-0]
The Naas lightweight is the top Irish prospect without a promoter. Cully is massively popular locally and had sold crazy amounts of tickets for a Dublin fight date which later fell through. Following this, his management company announced that they would no longer look to box their fighters on shows in Dublin, resigning Cully to Belfast undercards for the time being
Cully had impressed Hearn on the early undercard of Burnett v Zhakiyanov and perhaps a switch across the Atlantic and a chance to build a fanbase and a career there could be the perfect next step for a fighter too good to be hidden away.
Davey Oliver Joyce [7(6)-0]
The Mullingar super feather is flying up through the ranks and, at 31, is looking for big fights soon. An Olympian but perhaps ill-fitting to the big Belfast cards, a rebranding in America under the Matchroom banner could work wonders for his career.
Coming off the back of a career-best win over Jordan Ellison and perhaps ready now for a step-up to statement fights, Joyce would fit a growing trend in America – that of the international former elite amateur taking early-career big fights.
John Joe Nevin [10(4)-0]
Another Mullingar super featherweight, Nevin is finally building momentum after a stop-start few years. Splitting his time between Philadelphia with Bozy Ennis and London with Jim McDonnell, Nevin recently scored a dominant eight-round points win over Commonwealth Games medalist Alex Torres Rynn.
The 28-year-old Olympic silver medalist has another eight-rounder next month and then could be ready to go in serious fights stateside and fits a similar mould as Joyce.
Connor Coyle [7(2)-0]
The Derry middleweight is progressingly nicely in Florida – which Hearn plans to be a key area for his U.S. operations.
Currently preparing for his maiden title shot, the Commonwealth bronze medalist is another fighter that will soon be ‘ready to go’ and, 28 this month, he will be wanting to kick on majorly in the next 18 months.
Ray Moylette [9(3)-0]
The Assassin Boxing lightweight is one of the premier Irish prospects and has a good Boston fanbase, with family and friends in the area and having fought numerous times on Murphys cards
While an implausible fight with new Matchroom welter Daniyar Yeleussinov – who Moylette defeated in the finals of the World Youths a decade ago – has been suggested, the new deal could herald in an opportunity for a genuine Matchroom relationship for the Mayo man who will look to claim a regional U.S. belt this Summer.
Noel Murphy [10(2)-1(0)]
New York-based Cork light welter Noel Murphy [10(2)-1(0)] is another that would do well on an East Coast undercard. While his promotional relationship with Hearn rival Lou DiBella could be an issue, he would certainly fill seats on New York bills.
The 23-year-old is currently getting over a close WBCUSA title defeat to the experienced Mikkel LesPierre but is young enough to be rebuilt and is highly-rated around the gyms in the Big Apple.
Larry Fryers [6(2)-1(1)]
The Monaghan light welter featured on the last Matchroom USA show where he sold over 300 tickets. ‘Lethal Larry’ lost that night, looking out of sorts versus Russian Nikolay Buzolin.
Fryers took the defeat on the chin and will no doubt want a rematch at some stage. A proven commodity, he could well be asked back for a future New York card.
Jay Byrne [7(2)-4(1)]
Hearn loves a bit of Jay Byrne. He may not be knocking on the Dubliner’s door in a bid to sign him up, but loves what he brings as an opponent in terms of toughness, heart, and professionalism.
Especially in the early stages of his DAZN deal, when local knowledge and contacts are still forming, Byrne may get a call when Hearn need a guaranteed tough test for a rising prospect.