PBC + NBC = a win for fight fans
Boxing fans got a belated-yet-welcome Christmas gift when it was recently announced that several outstanding match-ups would be coming to the free TV in 2015.
Boxing was once a staple of broadcast television but the bigger fights became premium cable and pay-per-view events over time. However, media-shy power broker Al Haymon emerged to announce the deal that will see some of the top fighters from his stable on possibly countless TV screens in 2015.
Reports indicate that Haymon Boxing will pay at least $20 million annually to purchase time on NBC and NBC Sports Network, which will be used to feature Haymon fighters.
Legendary sportscaster Al Michaels will host the NBC prime time bouts and former world champion and Hall-of-Famer Sugar Ray Leonard will join him at ringside as an analyst.
The new series “Premier Boxing Champions” will see its premiere on March 7 featuring WBA interim welterweight champion Keith Thurman vs. Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero. The telecast will also feature Adrien “The Problem” Broner tangling with John Molina in the chief support bout. The MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada will host the show, live on NBC.
The series will then follow up with another strong card on April 11 that sees RING/WBC/WBA junior welterweight champion Danny “Swift” Garcia against IBF titlist Lamont Peterson in (unfortunately) a 143-pound catchweight bout.
Overall, there will be 20 “PBC on NBC” telecasts in 2015. Yes, that is 20 great nights and afternoons of boxing featuring some of the games best – for free. The schedule will see five Saturday prime time shows on NBC, six Saturday afternoon shows on NBC, and nine Saturday prime time shows on NBCSN.
Haymon, perhaps the game’s most powerful mover, has a huge stable of world champions and contenders. He has faced criticism in the past for controlling and dominating pay-per-view dates that, at times, feature less-than-stellar (read: easy) bouts for his fighters. He has also been accused of refusing to match his fighters with other promoters’ fighters, leaving some good match-ups to die on the vine, much to the chagrin of fight fans.
However, others (most notably, his fighters) have trumpeted Haymon as the ideal definition of a manager, a broker who secures good paying gigs with the least risk while offering them a strong sense of security.
Isn’t that the role of a good manager?
While not satiating the wants of fight fans every time out, Haymon’s loyalty is to his clients and their long-term success. Boxing fortunes can change in an instant and his job is to maximize profit while minimizing risk in the small window that is a professional boxing career.
And, let’s be fair; while fight fans want to see the marquee match-ups every time they tune in, Haymon is hardly the first promoter to keep fights in-house by resisting co-promotions.
There has been a move by Top Rank Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions, long estranged from each other, to work together in delivering some key bouts that bode well for both the industry and fight fans.
Whatever anyone thinks of Haymon, it is hard to deny that he has formulated a plan that will see great fighters getting maximum exposure and at no cost to boxing fans. And the exposure can only help their profile down the road when they elevate into pay-per-view events.
But mostly, the fans win here.
Great fights on free TV!
Let’s take a look at the debut telecast.
* March 7: Keith Thurman, 24-0 (21) vs. Robert Guerrero, 32-2-1 (18), MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada (WBA interim world welterweight title)
Thurman: Tough call in a good fight. If it’s good match-ups you wanted from Haymon, you got them. Thurman picked up the interim welterweight trinket in 2013, beating Diego Chaves in a good outing. Followed it up with stoppages of Jesus Soto Karass and Julio Diaz in impressive wins but against fighters with a lotta miles on them. Beat Leonard Bundu in a decision win in December in a fight many predicted wouldn’t hear the final bell. Not Thurman’s best outing but a win is a win. Talented, confident fighter that some – including himself – insist will dominate the game once he breaks out in marquee fights. Maybe this is the start of that run…
Guerrero: Former IBF junior lightweight, IBF featherweight, WBO/WBA (both interim) lightweight, WBC interim welterweight champion. Holds wins over Joel Casamayor, Michael Katsidis and Andre Berto. Went the distance with seemingly untouchable Floyd Mayweather. Gritty, tough guy. Hard to see Thurman stopping him so I see this guy taking it to the scorecards.
Prediction: Tough call, gonna ride the fence on this one. It’s a pick ‘em fight.
Adrien Broner, 29-1 (22) vs. John Molina, 27-5 (22)
Molina: Save for a first round KO loss to Antonio DeMarco a couple of years back, has been competitive in all his fights. Upset then-undefeated Mickey Bey in 2013 but is coming in off two losses. Stopped by Lucas Matthysse in a war last April and then lost to former world champion Humberto Soto in September. Tough, fun action fighter but I think he’ll have difficulties with “The Problem” if he can’t get him into a dogfight.
Broner: Former WBO junior lightweight, WBC lightweight and WBA welterweight champion. Floyd Light squeaked by Paulie Malignaggi in June of 2013 and then got humbled six months later when Marcos Maidana slapped him around for 12 rounds. Slick boxer who has speed and decent power. An entertaining character who is a walking quote machine. Coming in off two decision wins in 2014. Adrien needs an impressive performance to back up his constant claims of how he is “the future of boxing.” Vulnerable in a slugfest but should be crafty enough to beat Molina.
Prediction: Broner UD 12 Molina