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Matchroom learns from DAZN trip to Kansas

It wasn’t a huge card this past Saturday, but it was a learning experience for Matchroom Boxing.

Oleksandr Usyk v Tony Bellew - Cruiserweight World Title Fight Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Promoting boxing isn’t an easy endeavor, not for anyone.

And promoting boxing in America, when you’ve made England your home makes it that much more of a challenge, which Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn has admitted.

He’s told media that he’s still learning on the job. The amiable deal-maker from England tried his hand again Saturday, when he brought fights to Kansas, on a card topped by Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller. Now, Miller was booked against a reasonably credible hitter, but someone totally unknown outside America. Bogdan Dinu hails from Romania, and so no, there weren’t huge pockets of Dinu fans there to wave the flag and root on their guy.

And no, there were not copious charters from Brooklyn to Kansas, masses flying in to root on “Big Baby.” There were masses present to root on home-state pugilist Nico Hernandez, Hearn told us.

“We had 4,098 in there but 2,000 went home after Nico,” Hearn told BLH.

Hernandez went to 6-0, taking the W from fellow flyweight Josue Morales, now 8-8-3, before his fans went homeward bound.

Hearn has explained that he’s better understanding the buying habits of Americans. He told interviewer Kugan Cassius that a high percentage of tix get sold basically day of, so called “walk up sales.” Americans seemingly aren’t by and large as devoted as Brits, and simply are less likely to be aware of a card on the near horizon. So, they get the memo late, don’t pre-plan and it’s more of a spur of the moment instict to go to the scraps. Same thing, he said, in people at a casino. “Oh, look, boxing taking place here. Let’s get a ticket and check it out.”

Hearn’s communications boss Anthony Leaver touched on the Kansas attendance, and also replied to my theory that maybe attracting DAZN subscribers is more important in the long run than how many people show up at the building on fight night.

“Attendance was 4,098 on Saturday which was pretty solid for a first one in Kansas,” Leaver told us. “DAZN subs are of course very important but fight night attendance is crucial, too — we want to give the DAZN viewers at home a great atmosphere, so that when we bring a show to their town they see it as a must-attend event. We’ve always felt that the two go hand in hand. When you are able to say in advance that a fight is sold out or limited tickets are left, it tells viewers that they must tune in!”

My three cents: I think there is merit to the stance that that number wasn’t bad for the first foray into Kansas. You could picture that number growing as Hernandez continues to elevate himself in the division, and the number could escalate more if some more home-grown talent is added to the mix. Also, someone who draws good buzz on TV doesn’t always necessarily have the same pull in getting fans to an arena. So, sometimes the promoter is sacrificing gate for TV magnetism. OK, it’s not rocket science but neither is it child’s play and easy to pull off. There’s a reason that someone who has done this since 1966 (Bob Arum) is still top dog among those sledding the terrain in the fight game.

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