The building wasn’t over-flowing with rabid boxing fans Saturday night Nov. 11 at the Nassau Coliseum, the second boxing event held at the refurbished joint run by the Barclays Center gang.
The announced attendance was 6,921, there to see a main event topped by Danny Jacobs against Luis Arias, with the chief support bout of Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller against Mariusz Wach, and a bout featuring local hero Cletus “The Hebrew Hammer” against Roberto Ortiz.
The July 2017 boxing opener had an announced butts in seats tally of 7,492, and was topped by a Robert Guerrero versus Omar Figueroa tango. That was a PBC event, and Lou DiBella’s DiBella Entertainment held the promoter license. Saturday, Eddie Hearn, a Brit fixture making in his initial incursion into US territory, did the lead promotion with an assist from Salita Promotions.
I asked Hearn early Sunday morning, as the post-fight press conference edged toward the 2:30 AM mark, if he was happy with the crowd in Uniondale.
“Yeah, it was alright,” Hearn said. “Six nine two something like that. I mean, we had some comps, and that’s a big problem with your culture here. A lot of people get free tickets. The sport's not big enough to sustain regular activity in the States… In this state, if you look at the activity, you had Charlo October 14th, you had Deontay Wilder last week, Danny Jacobs tonight, you’ve got Kovalev in two weeks, Cotto the week after, you’ve got Lomachenko versus Rigo the week after that. I mean it’s a lot of shows. If that was in London, you’d be bombing. I was reasonably pleased. I think you’re doing well, really.”
He also saw that the Long Island crowd wasn’t hyped like a Brooklyn crowd. “That’s why I was quite pleased with the numbers. I felt like we were up against it tonight and everyone was praying for it to be like two thousand. I saw the one in Newark (WBSS), the cruiserweight tournament, that got a couple of thousand.” Really, did he really think that low a number was possible? He shrugged. “It’s hard! Long Island is not Manhattan, it’s not Brooklyn. You know what it’s like at Barclays Center. You can be outside the Barclays Center and it’s a vibrant place. There’s foot traffic. Whereas here, it’s kind of in the middle..it’s an unbelievable facility. But without Brooklyn Boxing driving the show like they did, we would have struggled here tonight.”
Next time, Eddie Hearn, the UK bossman in that sphere, yeah, he’d make some tweaks.
“I like to do things a little differently…The broadcasters as well have to trust me to do my quirky stuff,” he said Sunday morning, after his first American foray, at the Nassau Coliseum, on a frigid night on Long Island, noting maybe he should have pitched that earlier. “Tonight was really about learning, understanding, watching. It wasn’t a case of implementing things tonight, because we don’t know really what we’re doing it here. Tonight and this week has really been like our first ever boxing show again. Whereas, you turn up in Britain and it’s like boom boom, absolutely sold out everywhere, everyone’s bought a ticket, everyone’s screaming, shouting, atmosphere, it’s easy. It’s harder work here. It’s harder work because you haven't developed the stars.”
He said that it isn’t brain surgery. When you have an event that has some buzz, a craving from the punters to watch it, then they turn up. “I feel like fans (in the US) aren’t necessarily going to watch individuals, rather than just going to a show…You’ve got to want to like Jarrell Miller, ‘oh, he’s a good guy, I’m going to go and support him, rather than just, ‘Oh, I’m to go to a show, I don’t really know who’s on there, I just know it’s a boxing show. If you ask a fan at a British show, they’ll be able to name you every single fighter on the card, and probably tell you about every single fighter on the card.”
Does race matter here? “Race is irrelevant, but country and background might not be,” Hearn said. He said Gennady Golovkin was built here, and him being so active was a large factor in his fanbase growing.
Hearn said it should be easy for a Deontay Wilder to be more buzz-y. Maybe more aid is needed from the networks and the mainstream media, Hearn stated, but “you only get help from the mainstream media when the sport is big enough…You can’t moan at the media, like promoters, oh we don’t get support from the media…then promote better shows! Make the sport bigger!”
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