DAZN chief James Rushton excited over prospect of women boxers headlining shows

Women’s boxing might be a major beneficiary of Matchroom linking up with DAZN as the streaming service’s co-chief executive James Rushton is eyeing major events headlined by the likes of Katie Taylor.

Promoter Eddie Hearn last week announced a “ground-breaking” five-year deal with the platform for the UK and Ireland, which is believed to run into nine figures, as he ended his long-term union with Sky Sports in boxing.

The partnership with Sky has helped to establish a number of Hearn’s fighters as household names, including Taylor, who has topped a fight bill on more than one occasion, although there was scrutiny when the Irish fighter’s contest against Natasha Jonas last month was on the undercard of Derek Chisora’s heavyweight bout versus Joseph Parker.

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However, having seen the numbers female competitors pull in in other territories, Rushton plans to explore alongside Hearn ways to move women’s boxing forward, with undisputed world lightweight champion Taylor at the forefront of the push.

Rushton told the PA news agency: “We’ve been a massive supporter of Katie Taylor throughout her career, she’s boxed on a lot of DAZN USA shows.

“If you look at her rating and other women’s boxers’ ratings they are incredible and in comparison to male boxers. Why is that? Because they’re amazing athletes putting on amazing shows.

“We have in the past and will definitely now with this deal with Eddie talk about how do we put on fights where Katie and other female boxers are the headliners of some of those big nights.

“It’s something we’re very committed to, not because we think it’s the right thing to do – and we do think it’s the right thing to do in terms of being a promoter of equal sport with men and women – but also because it makes sense.

“They do numbers, they’re amazing shows. Absolutely, 100 per cent, we’re very excited about working with Eddie to deliver that.”

Anthony Joshua is the only fighter in Hearn’s stable who will not automatically make the switch from July to DAZN, which is committed to screening at least 16 Matchroom UK shows annually.

The WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion, who has one fight remaining on his Sky Sports contract, will have to negotiate a separate agreement in order to appear on DAZN in the UK and Ireland although he has a contract with the global provider in other countries.

Rushton added: “It’s not a concern, per se, because if you look at the amazing talent they have in the stable in the UK and the US there’s an amazing amount of breadth and depth.

Anthony Joshua is the only fighter in Hearn's stable who will not automatically make the switch from July to DAZN (Nick Potts/PA)
Anthony Joshua is the only fighter in Hearn’s stable who will not automatically make the switch from July to DAZN (Nick Potts/PA)

“Also, there’s an amazing amount of young talent coming through, we’re super excited about the future of Conor Benn for example and the history and the narrative there.

“Would we love Anthony Joshua to fight on DAZN? Well, yes, because he works for DAZN already, we broadcast AJ in all markets outside of the UK and Ireland right now. Will that change in the future? Who knows?

“We’re obviously a massive AJ fan but no we don’t have any concerns that AJ is not part of this deal because the quality of the fighters Matchroom UK and Matchroom US have is super exciting.

“We’re delighted, we love those guys, we’re excited for the boxing fans, we’re excited for the type of investment and type of show that we can put on and we can’t wait for the end of July.”