Showtime and Premier Boxing Champions go upfront for 2018



On Wednesday afternoon, in New York City, at Cipriani’s, Showtime and Premier Boxing Champions hosted a gala event, with specially invited media members and over two dozen boxers (whom included Errol Spence Jr., Leo Santa Cruz, Deontay Wilder, Mikey Garcia, Jarrett Hurd and Adrien Broner), that announced the Showtime/PBC boxing schedule for the first half of 2018.


Here are the roster fights (some of which were previously revealed) that were unveiled:


February 17, Las Vegas
Danny Garcia vs. Brandon Rios, WBC welterweight title eliminator
David Benavidez vs. Ronald Gavril II, WBC super middleweight title


March 3, Brooklyn
Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz, WBC heavyweight title
Jermall Charlo vs. Hugo Centeno Jr., WBC interim middleweight title


March 10, San Antonio
Sergey Lipinets vs. Mikey Garcia, IBF junior welterweight title
Rances Barthelemy vs. Kiryl Relikh II, vacant WBA junior welterweight title


April 7
Erislandy Lara vs. Jarrett Hurd, IBF/WBA junior middleweight title unification


April 21
Adrien Broner vs. Omar Figueroa Jr., WBC junior welterweight title eliminator
Gervonta Davis vs. TBA


May 19, Brooklyn
Keith Thurman vs. TBA, WBA/WBC welterweight title


May 19, Canada
Adonis Stevenson vs. Badou Jack, WBC light heavyweight title


June 9, Los Angeles
Leo Santa Cruz vs. Abner Mares II, WBA featherweight title
Jermell Charlo vs. TBA, WBC junior middleweight title


June 16, Dallas
Errol Spence Jr. vs. TBA, IBF welterweight title


OK, some thoughts on this whole thing:


– Overall, a good line-up from Showtime. I really like the Adonis Stevenson-Badou Jack match-up, for the WBC 175-pound title. It’s the first real live body who Stevenson (who, for whatever reason, was not at this function) has faced in years. Also, the Hurd-Lara bout is a personal favorite of mine. Hurd is an entertaining fighter, who likes to grind it out on the inside and it will be interesting to see how he handles the movement of the Cuban southpaw.


Two pairings of which I’m really not a fan: First, the Garcia-Rios fight on February 17. Yeah, this is a fight that needs a “Hot Tub Time Machine,” as it was a much better match-up in 2011 than 2018. Also Broner-Figueroa is a pairing of two undisciplined underachievers. However I do admit this might actually turn into a fun fight.


– Showtime began the year last weekend at the Barclays Center, where Spence stopped Lamont Peterson in seven and now it has nine more boxing broadcasts (not including its “ShoBox” series) for the first half of 2018. Meanwhile after this weekend’s telecast from the Forum, featuring Lucas Matthysse and Jorge Linares, HBO only has February 24 and March 3 lined up for boxing.


Right now, if you are a hardcore (or maybe even just a casual) boxing fan and you could only afford just one of these premium cable networks – it’s a pretty easy call on which one you’d chose, right? This isn’t exactly the Pepsi Challenge.


– A few weeks ago, I talked about the three universes of boxing that exist with HBO (with Golden Boy Promotions, as its main content provider), Showtime (who’s aligned with the PBC) and ESPN (which has entered a deal with Top Rank) and one wonders if we’ll ever get match-ups between stars from those competing factions again. For example, are bouts like Mikey Garcia-Jorge Linares a real possibility? Is Spence versus Terence Crawford just a pipe dream?


Well, this Showtime schedule basically has fighters under the PBC banner facing one another, for the most part. So for at least the first half of the year, don’t expect certain “non-conference” bouts to even be entertained. To be fair, Top Rank has also begun the process of scheduling its marquee names for the early part of 2018. This brings me to the next point…


– A few years ago, as the PBC flooded the airwaves with various time-buys, Showtime was basically put on the backburner. Fast-forward to 2018 and, for Al Haymon’s clients, it’s Showtime or no-time, as they seem to be the only network they have remaining for the time being (although FOX is doing a show on February 17, as it features another Hot Tub Time Machine match-up between Devon Alexander and Victor Ortiz).


– OK, looking at the boxing schedule, there is an HBO/Showtime conflict on March 3 and the following week on the 10th, ESPN and Showtime go up against one another. However this was caused by Lipinets’ injury to his right hand that caused his February 10 bout against Garcia to be backed up.


– I found it interesting that, on May 19, you have “Sometime” Thurman (credit to Mr. Spence for that moniker) facing Tom Bob Anderson (TBA, who is quite active these days) and also Stevenson-Jack in Canada. So will this be some sort of split-site broadcast or like February 17 and will there be another network involved, like CBS (which, in the past two years, has broadcast boxing under the “Showtime Championship Boxing” banner)?


– During this event, the various fighters were brought up on stage and the world champions all strutted up there with title belts in tow. Yeah, gone are the days when the PBC would try and act as if these organizations and their belts didn’t exist. For this presentation, the championships were prominently mentioned in the press releases leading up to this function.


Yeah, belts matter, always have and they always will.


– While there was no opponent listed for Spence, all indications are that he will take care of his IBF mandatory challenger Carlos Ocampo. Yeah, this might be a mismatch but I give this a mulligan. Call this Spence’s Dominic Wade or, to go waaaay back, Patrick Charpentier. Hey, as I just said, belts matter and this will be Spence’s second bout of 2018, after performing just once last year.


Also this bout is scheduled to take place in Dallas, making it a homecoming fight. Spence is not just one of the game’s bright young talents but extremely marketable and it’s been maddening to see him shipped out east for his fights, the past few years. Well, if you have to face a rather anonymous foe. you might as well make it an event and start to set down some roots for him in the Lone Star State.


Donald Curry, Paulie Ayala and Juan Diaz would approve.





This presentation was streamed by Showtime on its YouTube channel and Facebook page. If you missed it, here’s what took place:






Here’s this week’s episode of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and myself.





Mario Lopez talk boxing and hot sauces (no, seriously we do) on the latest “The 3 Knockdown Rule.”





It was also announced yesterday that Stephen Espinoza was promoted to President of Showtime Sports and Event Programming…Espinoza’s powerpoint presentation skills were on-point…The Santa Cruz-Mares rematch will be held at the Staples Center…So everyone on the Cavaliers is blaming Kevin “Gets No” Love? Gimme a break…Lakers are showing some signs of progress recently…Mark my words: Whomever drafts Miami’s Braxton “Honey Nut” Berrios is getting themselves the next great slot receiver. Hey Patriots, this is exactly your type of guy!…I can be reached at and I tweet (a lot) at I also share photos of stuff at and can also be found at




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