Promoter Eddie Hearn says the purse demands of both Regis Prograis and Devin Haney left no other option for him and his business partners but to put that alluring 140-pound title on pay-per-view, in effect putting the onus on consumers.
Earlier this week, Hearn's Matchroom Boxing officially announced that Haney (30-0, 15 KOs), the former undisputed lightweight champion, will be moving up to 140 to challenge WBC beltholder Prograis (29-1, 24 KOs) on Sat. 9 at Chase Center in San Francisco on DAZN, the streaming platform.
Haney, who lives and trains in Las Vegas, is a Bay Area native and will be fighting in his hometown for the first time as a professional. Prograis, of New Orleans, will be making the second defense of his WBC title.
While fans praised the match-up, many, at least on social media, objected to the fact that the fight would require viewers to dig deeper into their pockets. In addition to paying a monthly subscription to DAZN, fans will have to fork over a one-time fee to watch the fight. The pay-per-view cost has not yet been announced.
Hearn responded to concerns that fans were getting stiffed by explaining that the purses required by Haney and Prograis left DAZN no other alternative. Haney is coming off his first pay-per-view appearance (on ESPN) earlier this summer, when he defeated Vasiliy Lomachenko in a lightweight undisputed championship.
“It might be a sign of the times,” Hearn told Boxing Social. “The market and the purses that these guys are getting for the mega fights. You know, Devin Haney just boxed on pay-per-view against Lomachenko. He won that fight. He wants a lot of money. Regis wants a lot of money. It’s the way to make the fight happen.”
Fans’ frustrations are reasonable, even justified.
DAZN entered the American market in 2018 with the explicit intention to provide high-quality, pay-per-view level fights without actually putting them on the pay-per-view platform. The company, indeed, went so far as to run commercials that proclaimed the “death” of the pay-per-view model.
But the company had to backtrack on those bullish claims. They put on their first pay-per-view in the US last year, when Canelo Alvarez challenged Dmitry Bivol for Bivol’s WBA 175-pound title.
Hearn once insisted that DAZN would only resort to the pay-per-view option to stage “mega” fights, but it is not clear what constitutes a mega fight and if Haney-Prograis even fits that description. Neither fighter, for example, has proven himself to be a draw.
Nevertheless, Hearn has high financial hopes for Haney-Prograis.
“It’s our first pay-per-view in America that we’ve done outside of Canelo Alvarez,” Hearn continued. “So, we’ll see how it goes. I think it will do very well. The build-up will be very intense. The promo was off the charts and it’s going to be a big fight.
“I get people’s criticism. At the same time, it’s only pay-per-view in America, not in the UK, for UK subscribers. But it’s a big, big fight. The price will be announced soon for subscribers and I think they’re going to get great value for money.”
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.