Boxing’s Return To Network TV A Success; More To Follow
By Chris Cella
Following boxing’s successful return to CBS television this past Saturday, a Showtime executive has mentioned that they plan on putting more shows on going forward in 2013.
Boxing on a network reemerged in 2004 when NBC hosted world title fight, but it has been since 1997 that boxing was televised on CBS.
Saturday afternoon bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz successfully defended his belt with a unanimous decision victory over Alberto Guevara. Despite a brief delay due to an overtime basketball game, the fight provided fans with action and excitement.
“It was a good match and performance for this broadcast, all-action from the opening to the final bell,” said Stephen Espinoza, head of Showtime Sports to the LA Times. “We’ll look at the ratings and have the discussion about when we can do it again, but I thought the production went extremely well.”
Action packed fights on network television is what the sport needs to get back its broader fan base around the world. Not only will it give fighters a chance to get their name more widely spread, but will make more fights accessible to fans who do not have premium cable channels.
Recently the UFC has begun holding main events of FOX with much success, and if Showtime continues to put on quality fights going forward in 2013, they too will receive the same positive reception.
Espinoza also shared that his network will televise a fight with undefeated WBC light middleweight champion Saul Alvarez in 2013, and that he hoped he would also be able to bring over undisputed world champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. over from HBO. There are current discussions about the two undefeated warriors going to battle at some point in 2013, though nothing has been determined yet.
“It’s hard to tell, but given the advances we’ve made this year, we think it speaks well for our chances,” said Espinoza, who was formerly Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boys’ attorney. “The Mayweather camp is fairly private about its decision-making process. I’m one of the potential suitors waiting for a reply.”
Over the course of the past year Showtime has stayed consistent with delivering fight fans with the matchups they want to see; they’ve hosted some of the biggest and most popular championship fights of 2012, and are adamant about continuing to bring the same into the New Year. On February 9 WBA Super World and WBC light welterweight champion Danny Garcia will be putting his unblemished record and belt on the line against former champion Zab Judah, and IBF welterweight champion Devon Alexander will battle Kell Brook on March 2.
Showtime is also set to televise an April 21 fight card featuring former multi-divisional champion Shane Mosley’s coming out of retirement to fight Showtime analyst and WBA world welterweight champion Paulie Malignggi.
About the bout between Malignaggi and Mosley, Espinoza commented, “I actually think it’s an intriguing matchup. Shane thinks at 147 pounds he’s still got a lot left and given his career, he deserves the opportunity to prove it. It’s an action, 50-50 fight, and those are the kinds we love.”
This Saturday afternoon Main Events will be promoting a fight card on NBC, which will be their first live boxing event since 2004—a rematch between Tomasz Adamek (47-2, 29 KO) and Steve Cunningham (25-4, 12 KO), a 12-round fight for the IBF North American Heavyweight Title. The two warriors first met in 2008, an action-packed fight which Adamek won via split decision to capture the IBF cruiserweight title. Hall-of-Fame ring announcer Michael Buffer will serve as ring announcer for the event. The co-feature of the evening will be a bout between Tor Hamer (19-1, 12 KO) against Vyacheslav “Czar” Glazkov (13-0, 9 KO) in an eight round heavyweight bout.
About being part of the event, Buffer commented, “It’s always great to announce a good fight, but for me, as a fan, it’s even better when it’s an excellent match up like we’re going to see on NBC with Adamek and Cunningham, on December 22nd.”
The live telecast on NBC will begin at 4 p.m. Eastern.
Going forward in 2013 NBC had already announced four dates in which the network will be featuring world class boxing—January 19, February 23, March 9 and June 14—with additional dates possible.
It’s about putting together the matchups that fight fans want to see, and so far the networks have done their part in making it happen. If they continue to deliver, boxing on network television will be a huge success.