Is the Miracle Man HBO’s Future Star?

Danny Jacobs is well-known in the boxing community, not just for his physical presence and boxing skill set, but also for his remarkable story of how he beat cancer to then become a world champion.

A New York native and well liked individual, Jacobs stardom came when he defeated then undefeated New York rival, Peter ‘Kid Chocolate’ Quillin, at the Barclays Center. A dominant first round victory after a brutal display saw him rock Quillin who staggered leaving the referee with no choice but to stop the bout.

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After that display, Jacobs was partially active where he fought Sergio Mora for a second time in a meaningless fight, but then after months of negotiations he landed his biggest opportunity in taking on the most fearsome man in the division, Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin.

A bout many thought was dangerous for Jacobs given his questionable chin, after being floored by Sergio Mora previously. It turned out to be a bout that would earn Jacobs the respect from the boxing community that he knew he deserved and allowed him to challenge for the bigger fights and handsome paydays he ought as  a world champion.

However, the fight against GGG started badly for Jacobs – he was floored in the mid rounds and many believed he would have then been stopped. Jacobs was able to avoid teh stoppage and fight his way back showing heart and passion. The end result saw a round of boo’s from the crowd as many believed Jacobs did enough to at least warrant a draw but Golovkin got the decision.

Despite the loss, he was able to land a big deal with Eddie Hearn. So, what does the deal with HBO and Eddie Hearn entail? Also what is Al Haymon’s involvement, given that he has been managing Jacobs as well?

It’s actually simple. Matchroom Boxing was looking for a fighter with star power to help catapult their US launch. Given their success and dominance within the UK market, there seems to be an opportunity for Eddie Hearn to enter into the US and rattle up the boxing scene here. Hearn and his father, Barry, who launched Matchroom many years ago, promoted fighters such as Prince Naseem Hamed, Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn to name a few and have monopolized the UK market. Their deal with Sky Sports ensures that all their fight cards have prime time TV viewership across UK’s biggest sports platform – hence the reason fighters such as Anthony Joshua are able to join Hearn’s stable seamlessly and make a big impact in the space fairly quickly. In fact, it was with Sky Sports’ help that Matchroom was able to lure Charles Martins to fight Anthony Joshua for $7MM. A no-brainer for both fighters and since then, Joshua’s career has gone onwards and upwards.

It’s deals like this that have fighters not only trusting Hearn, but also seeing his influence with big TV networks with his ability to self promote and market his fighters. Also, Hearn’s ability to do business with other promoters sets him apart from some of the other well-known boxing promoters, and this in turn has also detracted other fighters from getting the big money fights they have craved. For instance, the well-documented issues with Golden Boy and Top Rank, Al Haymon (PBC) and Top Rank and Golden Boy as well. It seems like a vicious cycle and hard to actually do business.

Hearn sees this as an opportunity and great leverage to allow fighters to compete at the highest level and earn great paydays. Hearn has done business with each of these promoters, and promoted good events in the US as a result. He brought James Degale to New York for a title fight earlier this year and worked alongside Al Haymon and Mayweather promotions.

So why Daniel Jacobs? Hearn saw that Jacobs was still a fighter in his prime and one who was not as active as he should be as a fighter nor fighting the biggest fights as he should be. He is also a fighter that would be easier to sign than a current star that is already generating good numbers. Jacobs’ attraction is also at an all time high. Even though he lost his last fight against Gennady Golovkin, many thought that the fight was close, some even having Jacobs winning it. A draw would have been a fair result. Both Hearn and HBO see this as a way to build up Jacobs, an athlete who fought cancer and is a great role model to many, but also somebody who undeniably has great boxing IQ and skills.

At the same time, HBO’s appeal seems to be diminishing. Outside of Canelo and Gennady Golovkin (who probably has at most 3-4 more big fights left in him), HBO has not been able to recruit today’s marquee fighters. Al Haymon has his own network and cable TV arrangements with different providers through Premier Boxing Champions. Top Rank is now working the terrestrial TV scene with a large ESPN deal. This leaves HBO in limbo and in desperate need for better known boxers to help elevate its boxing ratings as well as, increase the number of fight cards they can schedule each month.

Is Danny Jacobs the man to help HBO here, or is there a bigger plan? Eddie Hearn has been working with a lot of of boxing talent, especially as he co-promotes events with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, and it seems from the rumor mill that there are several other fighters ready to join Hearn’s stable. The key here is that even though these fighters will be promoted by Eddie Hearn, they will still be managed by Al Haymon. It seems like smart business on both fronts; Matchroom Boxing enters the US market, puts on great events, and markets great talent while Al Haymon manages his fighters and has them promoted by other entities. This also allows Haymon to work with another big TV network as well outside of his existing PBC relationships. Finally, HBO will be able to work with top and up and coming fighters to grow their boxing roster of talent. Nonetheless, this seems like a great arrangement for all.

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So, the first event under this new arrangement of Matchroom-HBO-Haymon is an intriguing lineup for Jacobs against former Mayweather Promotions fighter, Luis Arias. Many anticipate Jacobs coming out on top given his sheer size and power advantage over Arias. But, this is still a decent fight and one which should attract good viewership. Given the HBO setup now, there seems that either a rematch with GGG or even a fight with Canelo Alvarez is in Jacobs’ future.

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We’re excited to see boxing being positioned this way to let the best fight the best and also ensure there are not promotional conflicts of interest preventing big draw fights from being made.

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