By: Shane Willoughby
Earlier this year Barry Hearn said at the press conference for Dillian Whyte vs Oscar Rivas “these fighters have to get paid and if you don’t like it, don’t watch.” Insinuating if you don’t want to pay for the fight, don’t buy it.
Normally when the Hearn family speak fans don’t pay much attention. Unfortunately for Matchroom, this time the fans took Barry Hearns comments seriously. In fact, that statement was put into practice.
Whyte vs Rivas reportedly sold only 289,000 pay-per-views. Which is probably much less than what was expected. Whyte’s last two PPV’s with Parker and Chisora done over 400,000 buys. How is that Whyte’s star power is increasing but his PPV’s have reduced dramatically.
With all due respect to the body-snatcher the lack of box office buys are because of Rivas’ lack of exposure in the UK. With that said, Whyte vs parker sold 474,000. So just under 200,000 people decided that they were not going pay for this fight.
That is a large amount of people. To put that blame solely on the fact that Rivas isn’t a big name in England is quite unfair. Especially when you consider the fact that Eddie Hearn by his own admission put together a ‘monster card’.
And for those who still believe that this is a decent amount of PPV buys. This is the lowest amount of buys Sky Sports have done since 2017. And when you consider the fact that Bellew and Usyk, who is far from a household name in the UK done over 500,000 sells, 289,000 is poor.
So why has Whyte vs Rivas done such bad numbers? Is it because former “slave trader” Barry Hearn gave fans permission to not buy? Maybe, but a more plausible explanation is, the British fans have turned their backs on Matchroom.
Eddie Hearn has clearly prioritised his new American family and has received heavy criticism for abandoning the brits; leaving them with below-par fight nights.
Whyte vs Rivas was Matchroom and Sky Sports first big fight night this year which was staged in the UK. British fans had to wait until July to finally get a card that they had a chance to pay for. Unfortunately, 200,000 people chose not to pay.
With all this on the table, it does evoke quite a few fascinating thoughts. Earlier this year it was released that Whyte was offered a deal from ESPN. And if Furys deal is anything to go by the sum of money was more than appealing. Why did the Brixton man turn it down?
When you realise that the entire card on 27th July grossed under 6 million, Whyte couldn’t have been paid much, relatively speaking. Especially when you have to subsidise a ‘monster card’. Maybe, Whyte should have signed with ESPN after all.