By Ivan G. Goldman
As the ugly dispute between CBS and Time Warner Cable headed into its seventh day Friday, an interesting ShoBox card scheduled tonight was set to be the first boxing casualty. ShoBox is carried by Showtime, which is owned by CBS and therefore blacked out to Time Warner subscribers in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, and elsewhere.
About 3.5 million Time-Warner customers will be unable to see the program on Time Warner cable systems. Not all Time Warner cities are affected.
ShoBox, coming tonight out of Indio, Calif., is bringing fans a match-up between Deontay Wilder and former contender and beltholder Sergei Liakhovich. Untested Wilder, 28-0 (28 KOs), may be the best American heavyweight prospect out there. Or maybe not. Bear in mind that Iron Mike Tyson, for example, was the undisputed champion at age 21. If Wilder’s as good as his handlers claim, why didn’t they move his career faster? On the other hand, he is now “advised” by the powerful Al Haymon. Wilder’s connections may make up for any missing talent.
Liakhovich, 37, has been stopped in his last two contests, making his star burn not terribly bright. He’s no giant hurdle, but he is a step up for Wilder, of Tuscalossa, Ala., whose biggest name opponent to date has been big-talking Brit Audley Harrison. Wilder, taking him on in England, stopped him in the first round. In 2008, Wilder won the only Olympic boxing medal for the U.S., taking a bronze. One of the new breed of giant heavyweights, he stands about 6 foot 7.
Liakhovich, 25-5 (16 KOs), fights out of Scottsdale, Ariz. and hails from Belarus. He briefly held the WBO title seven years ago. If he loses, as expected, look for Golden Boy to proclaim he was the toughest heavyweight test since Joe Louis. And look for Haymon to say nothing to the media. He almost never does.
Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya told The Ring magazine, which is also owned by his company, that Wilder, 27, reminds him “of a heavyweight Thomas Hearns.” In May, Wilder was charged with domestic battery stemming from an incident in a Las Vegas hotel. According to his attorney, the victim later accepted his apology. The case has yet to work its way through the courts.
Financial analysts who follow the TV industry say we should keep a close eye on the New York Jets schedule. Time Warner may not care much about boxing fans, but it really doesn’t want to keep Jets fans from their team, and the first pre-season Jets game is tonight against Detroit on New York’s CBS2. The game won’t be on the Time Warner cable feed. The first season game is Sept. 8 against the Buccaneers. That’s only one week before Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez go at it in what should be the biggest-money pay-per-view event in boxing history.
Also threatened is the Aug. 24 Showtime card from Carson, Calif. headlined by Abner Mares versus Jhonny Gonzalez for Mares’ WBC featherweight title. Also on the card is Victor Terrazas versus Leo Santa Cruz, for Terrazas’ WBC junior featherweight title.
This dispute between the two corporate giants is so nasty that after Time Warner yanked CBS, the broadcaster blocked online access to its shows for Time Warner Cable subscribers in affected cities.
Meanwhile, about 40 miles down the road from the ShoBox card, ESPN2 presents a decent-looking card from Cabazon, Calif. the same night, with lightweights Rustam Nugaev and Jose Hernandez in a ten-rounder that’s crucial to both of their careers. The co-featured bout is Jose Pedraza against Gabriel Tolmajyan in a ten-round junior lightweight matchup.
Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag, by New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman, was released in June 2013 by Potomac Books. It can be purchased here.