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IT does not seem likely that the Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor extravaganza will trigger a wave of UFC versus boxing crossover fights. But one that does makes sense is Irish Olympic gold medallist Katie Taylor boxing Holly Holm, the conqueror of Ronda Rousey.
“That’s a fight I’m in interested in. Holly Holm is a very good boxer. So Holly Holm would beat most boxers on the female circuit now. It doesn’t feel like a freak show, it’s actually a really good fight. That’s definitely something we’re interested in. We wouldn’t be interested in Holly Holm against Katie Taylor in a cage and the problem is that Holly Holm makes a lot of money. So do you take her out of UFC, put her in a fight then what do you do? Do you put that on pay-per-view? But the first plan for Katie Taylor is to fight on the Joshua card and win a world title on October 28. Then we want to take her to the States to defend it and then try and unify next year,” promoter Eddie Hearn said.
Hearn is not considering branching out of boxing into other combat sports. “If you’re a salesman, which I am, you have to believe in a product to sell it. I’ve never been an MMA fan,” he said. “I’m passionate about boxing and I’m not that passionate about MMA. I don’t think I’d be as good a promoter in MMA as I am in boxing.
“It’s something we’ve looked at in the past. We were quite close to doing something about a year ago but then boxing’s just exploded so we have to really keep our eye on the ball. Plus we’ve got our American business starting up. If we start diversifying, taking our eye off the ball in boxing, we might not be the dominant force.”
He is looking at expanding into the USA, not only when Anthony Joshua fights in the States in 2018. “It looks like we’re going to be promoting a show over there this year with a view to doing probably four or five next year. Obviously we’ll be taking AJ there, it was going to be this year but it’ll now be next year at some point. Whether that’s the February/March fight, whether that’s the [Deontay] Wilder fight we don’t know. But we’re in talks with a number of broadcasters about not just AJ but Matchroom Boxing USA to make sure we can make that transition. It’s very, very complicated. It’s not just a case of pitching up and doing a show. You can do that. It’s about having an organisation there and actually a proper outfit like we’ve got here. It’s required a lot of work but we’re quite close to doing something,” Hearn revealed.
“It’ll be American fighters that we’ll be signing but we’ll also incorporate our UK [boxers] as well. Katie Taylor’s an obvious fit for a New York show. And so many other different fighters who can fight over there as well. We want to take [Joshua] Buatsi, [Lawrence] Okolie, [Joe] Cordina, all the young kids coming through, [Josh] Kelly. So it’ll be our US fighters that we’re signing, we’ll be working with other US promoters as well to put them on the show and sprinkling in the Matchroom UK talent as well and obviously broadcasting it on Sky Sports.”
The UK is an increasingly competitive market. The next few weeks for instance will be packed with action. Hearn continued, “September 16 you’ve got Billy Joe Saunders at the Copperbox, you’ve got Callum Smith in Liverpool. On the 23rd you’ve got Hughie Fury, on the 30th you’ve got our Liverpool show. On [October 7] you’ve got Crolla-Burns, which actually is flying, then you’ve got October 21 you’ve got Leeds with [Josh] Warrington, Belfast with [Ryan] Burnett, then on the 28th you’ve got [Anthony] Joshua. Oh and on the 14th you’ve got [George Groves in London with the World Boxing Super Series.] What Joshua does is he’ll take 75,000 tickets out of the market, which makes it very difficult for the other shows and then we do the next Bellew fight in December and that goes on sale and that takes 20,000 tickets out the market in a day. It’s really difficult at the moment and there’s going to be a lot of promoters getting burned doing shows this year.
“If they’re good they’ll sell but there are so many offerings and it’s not just about tickets, it’s about pay-per-view offerings as well. There are going to be so many pay-per-view offerings that there is a massive saturation in British boxing right now. But that happens in any market when people see success. People think there’s loads of money in Britain, ‘Wow, let’s go for it.’ Now you’ve got this massive carnage of shows which is impossible to follow and impossible for all of them to be a success, including some of ours, it doesn’t mean every Matchroom show is going to be a success. But we have the product where up against theirs ours will sell.”
He added, “It doesn’t mean we’re going to take our eye off the ball in the UK. It doesn’t we’re just going to sail off and all live off over there. This will be our main focus but we will be setting up an operation and an office in the States as well. But this has probably been three years in the making, the American move and it’s only been slowed down because of our success in the UK.”