Showtime rolls out for the fall
After a bit of a hiatus, Showtime gets going again this weekend from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, with a tripleheader focusing in on the 154-pound division. While Erislandy Lara-Terrell Gausha is the main event, Jarrett Hurd-Austin Trout and Jermell Charlo-Erickson Lubin have actually piqued the interest of boxing fans.
Overall, it’s a good card on Saturday. On October 28, Showtime televises Anthony Joshua’s defense of his IBF/WBA heavyweight crown against Kubrat Pulev from Cardiff, Wales. Then, on November 4, they return to the Barclays Center as WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder takes on Bermane Stiverne, with Shawn Porter facing Adrian Granados in support.
“I think we’ve had a really strong schedule all year long, which delivered both quantity and some of the best quality this sport has seen recently from a network,” said Stephen Espinoza, the Executive Vice President and General Manager of Showtime Sports, last Friday, “starting back in January, with Badou Jack and James DeGale, and then ultimately concluding with the November 4th show with Deontay and Shawn Porter on the same card.”
Espinoza has a point. In-between, they have featured the rematch bretween Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton, Adrien Broner-Granados, Jorge Linares-Anthony Crolla II, Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko, Errol Spence Jr.-Kell Brook and Broner-Mikey Garcia.
“I think it’s been a successful schedule of high quality and some really, really great match-ups,” stated Espinoza.
This upcoming card is one that will pair off some of the elite talent at 154.
“I love it,” said Espinoza. “We’ve been doing the super welterweights together on one card for two or three shows and not just because, when we started, we had the Charlos (Jermell and Jermall) all together. Now they’re in different weight classes. But it’s in one evening, getting to see five or six of the top fighters in the division under any consensus ranking.
“It’s really a good night of entertainment for boxing fans to see all of the top guys in one division on one night.”
Barring Lara losing his legs and getting old, most pundits expect him to decision Gausha but the other two match-ups on this evening hold great intrigue. Is Lubin battle-tested to take the WBC title from the surging Charlo and does Trout have the legs to swim upstream and trip up the skilled IBF beltholder Hurd?
So with their schedule set for October and November, is there anything in the books for December?
Espinoza told UCNLive.com, “It depends. There is a possibility of a show. Looking at venues, December is a little bit tough with a lot of venues taken with college basketball, NBA and NHL, so it gets pretty tough. You only get about a half-a-month, two or three weekends, to work with. So there’s a lot of factors there. If we don’t do something in December, we’ll start up in mid-January.”
There is a lot of chatter that an Errol Spence Jr.-Lamont Peterson match-up could take place on December 16 in Long Island, New York.
So with networks like NBC and ESPN, among others, no longer in the Premier Boxing Champions business, that means more boxers will be available for Showtime. So the question is, can Showtime accomodate their vast stable?
Espinoza gave a rather interesting response.
“There’s always going to be more good fights available than we could buy, so it is a constant struggle,” he said, “especially for boxing fans. We want all the good fights but budgets are not unlimited.”
Then he stated, “What your question is really getting at, in some ways, is Danny Jacobs.” Espinoza was referring to the middleweight contender who recently signed with Matchroom Boxing and signed a multi-fight contract with rival HBO.
“I have a lot of affection for Danny, as a fighter and as a person,” he continued. “We’ve had very candid conversations. We do NOT want to stand in his way of his biggest fights. And the biggest fights for him at 160 are clearly across the street at the other network. So, in terms of that situation, it made sense. We’re not going to stand in the way and be an obstacle of him getting big fights.
“Now, with respect to the divisions we’re focused on: 126 to 140 to 147, 154, heavyweights, we’ve got a depth of talent that we can continue to round-robin and satisfy fighters needs to fight often enough and deliver compelling fights. We’re not going to be able to deliver everything – I wish I had that budget. I wish I had an unlimited budget but there are tough choices you have to make every year.”
So what was the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor experience like, from Espinoza’s vantage point?
“The best way I can explain was that it was like an eight-week adrenaline rush because a pay-per-view is always a little bit of a fire drill. It’s like pulling off the Super Bowl on an individual case-by-case basis, starting from scratch every time in a short window,” he explained. “And this one, in particular, we had a shorter window than normal and we had sort of unprecedented issues to overcome.
“So what it meant was, starting from the first day of the press tour through the night of the fight, it was absolutely just an adrenaline rush. It’s like you’re back in college and cramming and getting things done by the skin of your teeth in a period of seven or eight weeks straight. It was exhilirating and stressful at the same time but ultimately it was all worth it when it turned out to be a pretty satisfactory experience for everyone involved.”
Are we now starting to believe in Chris Eubank Jr. now?…I thought Anthony Crolla clearly out-worked Ricky Burns and won that fight; no questions asked…Yeah, like everybody else, I’m not a fan of Miguel Cotto-Sadam Ali. The real question is: What changed Mikey Garcia’s mind on facing Cotto?…There’s also a card on Saturday afternoon, on FOX, from the StubHub Center that features Santa Cruz and Abner Mares in a pair of stay-busy bouts…Yes, I’ll be in South Florida/Miami throughout much of this upcoming week. On Saturday, I will be going to the Miami-Georgia Tech game…And yeah, I’m still in shock that Darrell Langham made that play…The Raiders are a mess with or without Derek Carr…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.