North American CEO, DAZN Part Ways After 13-Year Run

March 20, 2024
2 months

DAZN North America CEO Joe Markowski is heading on to a new job after a decade with the company. Markowski’s most notable work at DAZN was attempting to get the organization involved with boxing. While there were grand ambitions for what DAZN could accomplish, they displayed billboards saying ”Pay-per-view is dead” on a few of their early fights; Markowski’s ambitions were undone by the business itself. Many boxers couldn’t break from the traditional models due to long-time contracts with more established organizations and promoters.

Markowski only served in his current role for less than two years. Previously, Markowski served as the Executive Vice President of the global platform and Executive Vice President of North America. This is an interesting time for boxing right now.

With Showtime exiting the sport, there is a window open for streaming services like Amazon and DAZN to add contracts and fighters to pick up some of the slack. Online boxing news shows that Markowski hasn’t announced what he will do next. DAZN released a statement on Monday to announce the news.

”Joe has played a significant role in the development of DAZN in his 13 years with the company, helping to lay solid foundations for the global boxing proposition and expanding DAZN’s presence in Japan and the US,” DAZN wrote in a statement. ”DAZN is grateful for Joe’s commitment, industry expertise, and strategic insight over the years, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

What is DAZN?

DAZN is a British sports streaming platform. DAZN has grown since 2016 and has been able to branch out worldwide. DAZN has a reach in over 200 countries. One of the companies’ first major rights deals came with the J.League. 

The top Japanese soccer league has remained on DAZN throughout the run of the streaming platform. The J.League extended its deal with DAZN to 2033. DAZN would end up starting to get involved in the combat sports space in 2018. When DAZN launched in the United States in 2018, DAZN had signed a deal with Matchroom Boxing to broadcast fights. DAZN also signed a five-year deal with Bellator, a leading MMA promotion at the time.

The latest boxing news online shows that DAZN also leaned into hosting some of the boxing exhibitions that have become commonplace as of late. Jake Paul had several fights that were broadcast under the DAZN banner.

Initial Splash With Boxing

Markowski didn’t enter DAZN’s push to be a home for boxing without having ducks in a row. What Markowski was successful with was bringing on household names. Most notably, DAZN was able to get the rights to stream fights featuring Canelo Alvarez. Others who were associated with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions and Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing followed soon after for a subscription fee.

DAZN’s deal with Canelo was staggering at the time. Not just for the amount of money it promised the veteran fighter but also for the amount of money paid out in the deal. Canelo signed a five-year, 11-fight deal that paid out a minimum of $365 million. The most notable fight during Markowski’s period of attempting to transition boxing to a subscription service was a surprising upset. 

Anthony Joshua Comes to America

Initially, Anthony Joshua’s debut in the United States was supposed to come against American contender Jarrell Miller. Thanks to Miller’s deal with DAZN, he was assured that he would make $4.875 million to welcome the British fighter to the United States. But things got in the way of making that a reality.

A failed drug test threw the whole plan for a loop. Instead, Joshua would fight Andy Ruiz Jr. Ruiz was a solid, veteran fighter who was perceived to be just a step below championship level. But the latest boxing news of Joshua showed that Ruiz was ready for what Joshua had to offer.

While Joshua scored the first knockdown of the fight — and the first time Ruiz was knocked down in his career — during the third round, he wasn’t discouraged. Ruiz rallied and was able to score a seventh-round KO victory. It was the first loss of Joshua’s career.

Ruiz scored four knockdowns against the champion.

Alvarez Loses Challenge for Lightweight Champion

Another notable fight under the DAZN banner happened when Canelo fought Dmitroy Bivol in May 2022. Canelo was attempting to grab the WBA (Super) light heavyweight title. But for the first time since a loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2013, Canelo wasn’t able to find a way to counter his opponent.

Bivol ended up scoring a unanimous decision victory, according to recent boxing news. 

DAZN Succumbed to Common Issues with Boxing

Since the early 1900s, boxing has slipped further and further from the mainstream when it comes to professional sports. While boxing still has a vibrant, passionate fanbase, there have been many arguments about how to restore the sport to its former glory. DAZN hasn’t been immune to avoiding the problems that come with the sport.

DAZN’s entry into boxing was financially backed by Len Blavatnik. But even having an investor with deep pockets wasn’t enough to give DAZN the pull to get many of the most important people along for the ride. Fighters were still tied to other companies like Top Rank and Premier Boxing Champions.

As with many companies, spending was not always under firm control. Many people accused DAZN of wasting too much money on things that weren’t necessary. One of the greatest disappointments for boxing fans was that it didn’t help expedite getting more top fighters together.

One of the longest running complaints about boxing, particularly in the heavyweight division, is that the top fighters don’t fight each other. With people more worried about protecting their records instead of taking on the other top fighters in the world, people looked at DAZN like any other entity that is involved in boxing.

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By Dean McHugh.