Here Boxing’s Obsolete
Today is a full day of boxing on Showtime Sports and its various platforms. It starts with their Facebook and YouTube pages providing a live stream of the IBF featherweight title fight between beltholder Lee Selby and Josh Warrington from the U.K. (5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT) and then later (at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT), they have an attractive, split-site doubleheader that has Gary Russell Jr. defending his WBC featherweight crown against Joseph Diaz Jr. and WBC light heavyweight titlist Adonis Stevenson facing former super middleweight beltholder Badou Jack.
It continues a very strong 2018 for Showtime and its boxing franchise, which has consistently provided its subscribers with strong content on a regular basis.
Last week ESPN televised the star-making performance of Vasiliy Lomachenko, who turned back the valiant effort of the respected Jorge Linares to capture the WBA lightweight crown in thrilling fashion, at the Madison Square Garden.
It continues a recent run of strong main events featured by Top Rank, which entered a deal with the “Worldwide Leader,” last year, and they have a busy summer ahead of them.
As for HBO – which, at one point, was the undisputed champion of televising boxing in the States – had back-to-back shows to begin May. First it had to have its arm twisted, for whatever reason, to broadcast unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin’s bout against late replacement Vanes Martirosyan (which procured its highest rating in a few years) and then, last week, it had an entertaining doubleheader from Verona, New York, that featured the breakout of new WBO junior middleweight titlist Jaime Munguia and the latest victory from WBC 122-pound beltholder Rey Vargas.
And from there…well, it has exactly one fight on its upcoming boxing calendar – the August 4 bout from Atlantic City, where WBO light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev takes on Eleider Alvarez. Word is that it might add another card beforehand and September 8 is also being earmarked for “SuperFly 3.”
So what happened to the “Network of Champions”? At one point, boxing was a top priority but, for the time being, what is its overall commitment to the sport now? The question is, if you are someone who subscribes solely for boxing and nothing else – is “Jim Lampley’s Fight Game” once a month enough to keep you onboard?
While Showtime and ESPN are using multiple platforms to give fans various fight cards from across the globe, HBO’s app for boxing fans is HBO-no-Go, as it does not stream live fights and, oftentimes, takes a few days to get them uploaded. Someone needs to gently remind them that this is 2018, not 2008. They have fallen noticeably behind, in terms of the presentation of boxing, both in quantity and quality, but also in the utilization of social media platforms and overall shoulder programming.
As of now, its boxing franchise is Blockbuster Video in a Netflix world.
Peter Nelson, the head of HBO Sports, can wax poetically about storytelling but there are many fans who would like to know when they are getting back to providing boxing. At the end of the day and night, it’s about the fights. Perhaps this is related to the pending Time Warner-AT&T merger and maybe the HBO Sports department is hamstrung with a shoestring budget. Regardless, currently, HBO seems to be about a few cards wrapped around “Canelo” pay-per-views.
Forget about producing more episodes of “Legendary Nights”; how ’bout a few more “Boxing After Dark”s?
Here’s a look at 2018 for the three aforementioned networks, as it relates to their boxing programming:
1 – January 20: Errol Spence Jr.-Lamont Peterson, Robert Easter Jr.-Javier Fortuna
2 – February 17: Danny Garcia-Brandon Rios, David Benavidez-Ronald Gavril, Yordenis Ugas-Ray Robinson
3 – March 3: Deontay Wilder-Luis Ortiz, Andre Dirrell-Jose Uzcategui II
4 – March 10: Mikey Garcia-Sergey Lipinets
5 – March 31: Anthony Joshua-Joseph Parker
6 – April 7: Jarrett Hurd-Erislandy Lara, Julian Williams-Nathaniel Gallimore, Caleb Truax-James DeGale II
7 – April 21: Adrien Broner-Jessie Vargas, Gervonta Davis-Jesus Cuellar, Jermall Charlo-Hugo Centeno
UPCOMING ON SHOWTIME (after this weekend)
June 9: Leo Santa Cruz-Abner Mares II, Jermell Charlo-Austin Trout
June 16: Errol Spence Jr.-Carlos Ocampo
(July 28 is being bandied as the date for a lightweight unification tilt between WBC beltholder Mikey Garcia and IBF titlist Robert Easter Jr. but nothing is finalized.)
(Note this only includes the Top Rank cards in the States and not any of the international fights or shows produced by Golden Boy Promotions.)
1 – February 3: Gilberto Ramirez-Habib Ahmed, Jerwin Ancajas-Israel Gonzalez
2 – February 16: Ray Beltran-Paulus Moses, Egidijus Kavaliauskas-David Avanesyan
3 – March 10: Oscar Valdez-Scott Quigg, Andy Vences-Erick DeLeon
4 – March 17: Jose Ramrez-Amir Imam, Oleksandr Gvozdyk-Mehdi Amar, Michael Conlan-David Berna
5 – April 28: Jessie Magdaleno-Isaac Dogboe, Bryant Jennings-Joey Dawejko
6 – May 12: Vasiliy Lomachenko-Jorge Linares, Carlos Adames-Alejandro Barrera
May 26 (ESPN+): Jerwin Ancajas-Jonas Sultan, Khalid Yafai-David Carmona
June 9 (ESPN+): Jeff Horn-Terence Crawford
June 30: Gilberto Ramirez-Roamer Alexis Angulo, Alex Saucedo-Lenny Zappavigna
July 7: Jose Ramirez-Danny O’Connor
July 14: Regis Prograis- Juan Jose Velasco, Teofimo Lopez-William Silva
July 28: Christopher Diaz-Masayuki Ito
August 18: – TBA
August 25: Lomachenko-TBA
1 – January 27: Lucas Matthysse-Tewa Kiram, Jorge Linares-Mercito Gesta
2 – February 24: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai-Juan Francisco Estrada, Donnie Nietes-Juan Carlos Reveco, McWilliams Arroya-Carlos Cuadras
3 – March 3: Sergey Kovalev-Igor Mikhalkin, Dmitry Bivol-Sullivan Barrera
4 – April 28: Danny Jacobs-Maciej Sulecki, Jarrell Miller-Johann Duhaupas
5 – May 5: Gennady Golovkin-Vanes Martirosyan
August 4: Sergey Kovalev-Eleider Alvarez
September 8: “SuperFly 3”
OK, so what do we watch on HBO in the meantime?
Well, “Andre the Giant” was good. Who knows? Maybe give “Being Serena” a shot. (Nah.) But “Real Sports” is still a high quality production. Other than that, I guess I’ll have to wait for “Hard Knocks.”
Yeah, Top Rank and ESPN are going to have a very active summer.
Bob Arum explained, “Because of ESPN’s programming, we tend to be busier in the summer because there’s no football. Once we get into September and the fall, until the beginning of the year, ESPN is so heavily invested in college football that it really precludes or limits the number of fights we can do in that period.
Friday nights are an option for this time of year.
“That’s certainly a possibility. ESPN is very cooperative and they have very smart people and they figure this out and they will tell us when they want us to go on a Friday night and it’s fine with us. Friday night’s a good night,” said the veteran promoter.
Speaking of ESPN, you’ll hear from Joe Tessitore on this latest episode of “The 3 Knockdown Rule,” with Mario Lopez and me. We also review Lomachenko-Linares and preview the upcoming Showtime card.
The title of the article you’re reading is courtesy of @FringeContender on Twitter…Regarding the Kovalev card on August 4, tickets have gone on sale and they range from $50 to $200 and are available online at TicketMaster.com and HardRockHotelAtlanticCity.com…Romero Duno is coming along nicely as a fighter…So yeah, thinking VERY hard about going to the Regis Prograis show in N’awlins in mid-July…Not that I mind the Cleveland Browns and Baker Mayfield but wouldn’t the San Francisco ‘Niners have been a better choice for Hard Knocks?…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.