By Rich Mancuso
Say goodbye to Jim, Max, Roy, and Harold. HBO, once the premiere network for boxing, has thrown their last punch and it was a matter of time. The network over the past few years saw a roster of fighters go to the other competition with Showtime, ESPN, and the new streaming DAZN Network. Promoters are utilizing the increasing number of vehicles used to stream fights including ESPN with Top Rank and Eddie Hearn with DAZN as a paid platform.
In other words, this was a fight to survive as HBO and their boxing division tried to stay afloat and placed their revenue into alternative programming. It was just a matter of time and the boxing industry expected the inevitable news that became official Thursday afternoon.
So it appears the rematch with Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, televised on HBO Pay-Per-View, that generated a reported 1.1 buys, was a good and final punch. Though HBO Boxing will continue their scheduled commitments and close shop after October 27th.
That night, a championship doubleheader from New York at the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden, includes a middleweight title fight between Danny Jacobs and Sergey Derevyanchenko for the vacant middleweight title.
HBO could have one more telecast in the works and their year end year special as part of the farewell. A sad day at the network division in New York and gone for now, but a revamp down the road and possibly joining the others as another streaming network to showcase the fights has not been discussed.
“Forty-five years of great memories and boxing,” said a source close to the network. “You hear the rumors and now it has hit that the final punches will be thrown and thank all the legendary fighters and great promoters for the memories.”
But this had to occur and not for reasons that the sport is on a continued decline. To the contrary it is the fighters that make a network work. HBO lost the big names over the past few years to other networks. The Hall of Fame champions saw their last punch.
Reaction from the boxing world is a mixed bag with the closure of HBO and boxing. They were the first and original until the competition gave them a good and lasting fight. Though Peter Nelson, the executive vice president of HBO Sports said, “Our audience research informs us that boxing is no longer a determining factor for subscribing to HBO.”
And that does not hold for the other networks. Simply put, HBO was out of the boxing business as they did not have the names. You can’t draw the audience without Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto. And with the Klitschko brothers reign as heavyweight champions at a conclusion, it was difficult for HBO to be a mix in that division.
For Eddie Hearn, Bob Arum, the PBC alliance with Showtime, they have the fighters and of course the digital platforms that HBO failed to pursue. The sport and exposure has gone in another direction and financial backing is a major role that HBO failed to obtain with their boxing division.
They were left with Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin,Jamie Munguia, Dmitry Bivol, Sergey Kovalev, Daniel Jacobs, Roman Gonzalez, and Rey Vargas. Not the household names that are drawn to the other networks and minimal money to be a part of the competition.
Errol Spence Jr., Danny Garcia, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter? Names and faces of the sport also associated with the PBC and Showtime. Top Rank with their seven- year and lucrative deal with ESPN has shown the ability to develop that new face.
They have achieved that with Jose Ramirez. The 140-pound champion is a rising star and recently defended the title with a possible fight of the year against Antonio Orozco. That fight was tabbed as one of the highest rated on the ESPN televised platforms.
HBO also failed to mention the decline in cable subscriptions at a rapid rate. The consumer is more geared to other means of obtaining premium networks and the cable industry is aware of that concern.
And by all means, the demise of HBO does not mean that boxing is a dead sport. This is just a sign of the times in a digital era.
“As a person who fought on HBO 32 times and worked with the network to televise hundreds of fights under the @goldenboyboxing banner, I know firsthand the debt of gratitude the sport of boxing owes everyone at the company,” Oscar De La Hoya said on his Twitter account.
De La Hoya, promoter of Canelo Alvarez is a part of that HBO history. Combined the two fights with Alvarez and Golovkin did not surpass the 4,6000,00 buys that Mayweather and Pacquiao brought in during their mega fight in May of 2015 that was televised in conjunction with HBO and Showtime Pay-Per-View.
We grew up with HBO Championship Boxing. Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant,Roy Jones Jr. Max Kellerman and the “Fight Judge” Harold Lederman, in between George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, Andre Ward, and a cast of others. And of course a parade of champions.
A slow death it was, The history for now and memories will go a long way in the sport.
By: Ken Hissner
Ali in 1960 was the Golden Gloves National heavyweight champion and the AAU National light heavyweight runner-up. The last person to defeat him in the amateurs is a name few have ever heard of but this writer knew the name Staff Sgt. Percy Price.
Price served two tours in Viet-Nam. He entered the Marine’s in 1955 and retired in 1976. Price was from Salem, NJ, but retired and moved to Jacksonville, FL.
Price was a 3-time All Marine champion, two Interservice championships and one CISM championship. At the Olympic trials he defeated Hal Epsy to represent the USA in the 1960 Olympics at Rome in the heavyweight division. He won his first match knocking out Ronald Taylor of Australia in two rounds. In the quarter final he lost to Josef Nemic of CZ 4-1. Nemic appeared in three Olympics in 1956, 1960 winning a Bronze Medal and 1964.
In 1956 he was knocked out by USA’s Pete Rademacher in two rounds. The latter went on to win the Gold Medal in the Olympics and fought Floyd Patterson in his debut for the heavyweight title having the champion on the floor in the second round before being knocked down six times and for the last time in the sixth round.
Ali represented the USA in the light heavyweight division. Ali always had a problem with southpaws. He lost to Amos Johnson in the 1959 Pan Am Trials. He went onto get to the finals after defeating Yvon Becaus, of Belgium, RSC 2, Gennadi Schatkov, of USSR 5-0, Tony Madigan, of Australia, 5-0 and in the final Poland’s southpaw Zbigniew Pietrzykowski, 5-0.
If Ali would have represented the USA in the heavyweight division and he would have got to the semi-final he would have met another southpaw from Italy Franco de Piccoli who defeated the man Price lost to Nemec 4-1. Then he defeated Daan Bekker of South Africa for the Gold Medal.
As a professional de Piccoli won his first twenty-five fights, twenty by knockout before losing to American Wayne Bethea and then Jamaica’s Joe Bygraves by knockout in back to back losses. He would go onto win his next twelve fights before losing his last two bouts by knockout to American Everett Copeland, 3-7-3 and Peter Weiland, 8-2 in his final fight.
In closing out his career he was 37-4 (29) at age 28. Some of the boxers he defeated were Billy Daniels, 19-6-1, who gave Ali fits as a pro. Also, Americans Herb Siler, 20-9, who Ali defeated earlier, Floyd Joyner, 23-9-3, Howard King, 42-26-8, Tony Hughes, 26-2, Buddy Turman, 35-9-1 and German Uli Ritter, 21-9-6, breaking a bone in his left hand.
Ali’s amateur record was mentioned with six different totals like 100-5, 118-5, 127-5, 134-7, 137-7 and 99-8. He was a six-time Kentucky Golden Gloves champion.
More Boxing History
By: Bryant Romero
Does the Great Manny Pacquiao have one last great fight in him? Promoter Bob Arum posed that question to fans on his twitter account and the boxing world will find out this Saturday in an unusual site for a Manny Pacquiao fight. Kuala Lumpur at the Axiata Arena in Malaysia is the site for Pacquiao’s next fight when he takes on dangerous puncher and current World Champion Lucas Martin Mathysse (39-4, 36 KOs) in what should be a thrilling fight between two fighters who’s best days may be behind them. Pacquaio (59-7-2, 38 KOs) is seeking his 60th victory in what has been a legendary but now declining career where he’s no longer the superstar he once was, but is out to prove that he was the true winner in his controversial loss last July to Jeff Horn and perhaps there is still a couple of great nights left in his incredible career.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Twitter Account
Not only is the site of the fight different compared to many other Pacquiao fight weeks, but the Filipino icon is the lead promoter of the event. Bob Arum and Top Rank are simply just distributing the fight in the United States and it will be shown on the ESPN + app, which has indicated that perhaps Pacquiao and Arum seem to be at odds with each other. Pacquaio continues to tell the boxing press that he’s no longer affiliated with Top Rank and is currently a free agent. Arum of course has downplayed the situation and maintains that his company still has a working relationship with Manny.
This bout of course was not without controversy as in the weeks leading up into the event there were concerns that the event would be cancelled altogether as Pacquiao and his team missed numerous deadlines for payments. It wasn’t until early this month that Matthysse and his team were assured the money will put in place for his purse for the fight and now the fight is a go with Manny only slight favorite to defeat La Maquina.
Many believe Pacquiao defeated Jeff Horn last summer, but just 4 months shy from his 40th birthday, a long layoff, and facing a big puncher. It could be anyone’s guess on what Pacquaio truly has left for the 69th bout of his career.
Pacquiao fired his longtime trainer Freddie Roach and perhaps it was the right move now that Roach is no longer one of top trainers in the game. Buboy Fernandez his long time friend is now is head trainer and Buboy feels we will see a hungrier more dangerous Pacquiao, which could spell trouble for Matthysse.
Obviously, the Filipino legend is nowhere near the fighter he was 8 years ago, but Manny is still a capable fighter with loads of experience, speed, footwork, and tremendous skills. Expect an impressive performance from Manny as he will notch his 60th victory and perhaps even end his knockout drought in a fun fight with Matthysse in Malaysia.
By: Ken Hissner
How many boxers have “retired” only to unretired again? Will Roy Jones, Jr. be one of them? He boxes Thursday in his hometown of Pensacola, FL, against Scott Sigmon, 30-11-1 (16), from Lynchburg, VA.
Jones has been middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight champion. This fight he will fight at cruiserweight. He is also a promoter of fights with Square One Promotions.
Jones won his first 34 fights before knocking down Montell Griffin and hitting him while down losing on DQ. In his next fight he knocked out Griffin on the first round.
Like too many boxers he gave Bernard Hopkins a rematch and got beat. Hopkins gave him a good fight in their first match. Hopkins is also older than Roy by about a year.
Jones started boxing after a controversial loss in the 2008 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. He won his first 4 fights, 1 by KO and 3 by 5-0 decisions. He lost in the final to a South Korean 3-2. The decision was so bad he still won the Val Barker Award for the most outstanding boxer at the Olympics.
He turned professional the following year in his hometown of Pensacola where he plans to box and retire Thursday. Let’s hope he is a man of his word. His overall record until this match is 65-9 (47) and stopped 5 times. This will be his 75th fight and let’s hope his last. As a ringside commentator he is fine. Stay there Roy!
Jones has given many a good fighter their first loss such as James Toney 44-0-2, Glenn Thomas 24-0, Bryant Brannon 16-0, Montell Griffin 27-0, Eric Harding 19-0-1, Julio Cesar Gonzalez, 27-0, Glen Kelly 28-0-1, Anthony Hanshaw, 21-0-1, Pawel Glazewski 17-0 and Vyron Phillips 6-0 as an amateur making his debut.
Jones first title win was for the WBC Continental Americas Super Middleweight title in 1992 stopping Percy Harris, 15-3, at the Taj Mahal, in Atlantic City, NJ. In 1993 he won the vacant IBF Middleweight title defeating Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, 22-1, at RFK Stadium, in Washington, DC. He defended it 7 times. In 1996 he won the interim light heavyweight title defeating Mike “The Body Snatcher” McCallum, 49-3-1, at the Ice Palace, in Tampa, FL. After losing to Griffin he came back in his next fight winning the WBC World Light Heavyweight title from Griffin, then 27-0, at the Foxwoods Resorts, in Mashantucket, CT.
In the next fight Jones knocked out former IBF & WBA Light Heavyweight champion Virgil Hill, 43-2, at the Coast Coliseum, in Biloxi, MS, in 1998. He defended it at that weight 11 times. Prior to the 11th time he won the WBA Heavyweight title defeating John Ruiz, 38-4-1, at the Thomas & Mack Center, in Las Vegas, NV, in 2003.
After Jones 12th defense over Antonio Tarver, 21-2, the roof fell in for him in back to back fights being knocked out by Glen Johnson, 40-9-2 and in a rematch with Tarver along with a decision to Tarver.
Jones would go onto win 3 fights in a row before Joe Calzaghe, 45-0, made his second straight US fight defeating Jones. It would be Calzaghe’s final fight of his career due to bad hands.
Two wins later would become 3 straight defeats starting with Danny Green in 1 round. Then losing a rematch with Hopkins and making a trip to Russia being knocked out by Denis Lebedev.
Jones would return to the US and in 2011win the UBO Inter Continental Cruiserweight title defeating Max Alexander, 14-5-2, at the Civic Center in Atlanta, GA.
In 2013 Jones would win the vacant World Boxing Union Cruiserweight title (German Version) in Russia, which is the same title he is fighting Sigmon for Thursday. He defended it 3 times after defeating Zine Eddine Benmakhlouf, 17-3-1. Jones would fight 4 times in Russia going 2-2 and becoming a dual citizen there.
In 2015 on his final bout in Russia he was knocked out by former WBO Cruiserweight champion Enzo Maccarinelli, 40-7, whose traine was Calzaghe’s father. He would go onto win his next 3 fights and that brings us to Sigmon. This writer attended his last fight in Wilmington, DE, defeating the King of Bare Knuckle Boxing Bobby Gunn before a packed Chase Center for the vacant World Boxing Foundation World Cruiserweight title in 2017.
But like too many boxers “never say never” if this will be the last farewell fight for Roy Jones, Jr.
Interview with Joe Smith Jr. “I never thought an opportunity to fight Bernard Hopkins would ever come up”
By: Matthew N. Becher
Earlier this year, Joe Smith Jr. shocked the boxing world when he went on the road to Chicago, Illinois and knocked out Andrzej Fonfara in one round. Smith was a relatively unknown who rarely fought outside of the New York area and in an instant he had placed his name onto the Light Heavyweight division map. On December 17th, Live on HBO, from the Famous Forum in Inglewood, California, Smith will take on a living legend, and become the final opponent for the one and only Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins. Smith was nice enough to take some time away from training camp to speak with Boxing Insider.
Boxing Insider: You were working as a Union construction worker and moonlighting as a boxer. How did that work as far as schedule wise?
Joe Smith Jr.: I’d get up, go to work in the morning, usually worked till about 3 or 3:30. And depending on how dirty I was that day, I’d either go home and take a shower or I’d just go straight to the gym. Depending on the day, if we go sparring, we have to travel to the city. Other days we go for 2 hours.
Boxing Insider: And are you a “Full Time” boxer now?
Joe Smith Jr.: Ya, once I got called up to fight Bernard Hopkins, my trainer told me that we got the fight. I was actually at work and had to tell my boss that I needed some time off.
Boxing Insider: So then this just happened, even after the Fonfara fight?
Joe Smith Jr.: Yes, I went right back to work after that. I may have to go back to work for a little bit after this fight. I haven’t made that big payday yet.
Boxing Insider: Up until the Fonfara fight, you were mostly a New York fighter. What did traveling to Chicago to face a big name fighter teach you that may help ahead of your California fight with Hopkins?
Joe Smith Jr.: I love to travel, I like going place to place to fight. Of course I love to fight in my hometown of New York. But traveling and getting the different experiences, I enjoy that.
Boxing Insider: In December, you will be traveling to fight Hopkins, who is a living legend. What does it mean to you, to be fighting someone of his stature?
Joe Smith Jr.: It’s great. I never thought an opportunity to fight Bernard Hopkins would ever come up. Once I got that news, I was very happy.
Boxing Insider: What are your thoughts on fighting a man, whose first fight was before you were even born?
Joe Smith Jr.: I can’t believe this guy is still around. It’s great. I give him a lot of respect for that. But he’s jumping in there with me now, he’s trying to stop me from moving forward and doing big things in my career. So I gotta stop him and get him out of there.
Boxing Insider: What should fans expect, especially a lot of new ones that will be introduced to Joe Smith Jr.?
Joe Smith Jr.: They are gonna see a different fighter. They are gonna see a powerful and more all-around fighter. I’m going to show off my boxing skill, with my speed and my power. It’s gonna be a great show.