By: Sean Crose
Showtime and the PBC rolled out their boxing schedule from now until late spring in glossy fashion Wednesday at Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center, with a line up that runs nine broadcasts deep and offers some high level matches. After pointing out that younger viewers are tuning to boxing rather than other sports, Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza, who has just been promoted to President, Sports and Event Programming for the network, did a bit of boasting. “We see that boxing delivers a strong, young, multicultural audience,” Espinoza claimed as he stood before a board full of data. “We can retire the myth,” he added, “that boxing has an older audience.”
It was then time to introduce the fighters in question and the fights they would be engaging in. Jimmy Lennon Junior announced the fights while radio star Charlemagne the God spoke to the fighters. The broadcasts will air as follows:
On February 17th , Danny Garcia (33-1) will face Brandon Rios (34-3-1) in a Las Vegas hosted WBC welterweight title eliminator. David Benavidez (19-0) will also be facing Ronald Gravil (18-2) for the WBC super middleweight title on that same card.
On March 3d, WBC heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder (39-0) will finally face Luis Ortiz (28-0) for Wilder’s title strap at the Barclay’s Center. Jermall Charlo (26-0) will also be fighting Hugo Centeno (26-1) for the interim WBC middleweight title. “As I see it, Wilder said, “I’m 39-0 with 38 KOs. Every time I promise I’m going to knock somebody out, I’ve done that. Come March 3, I promise I’m going to knock him (Ortiz) out too.”
On March 10th, Mikey Garcia (37-0) will battle Sergey Lipinets (13-0) for the IBF super lightweight title in San Antonio, Texas. Rances Barthelemy (26-0) will square off against Kiryl Relikh (21-2) for the WBA super lightweight title that same evening. “It’s an honor to be included on such a short list,” said Garcia. “This only opens up the doors to bigger fights and bigger things for my career.” Lipinents was also clearly excited for the upcoming fight. “I will give my best before I get in the ring and when I get in the ring,” he said. “I guarantee it will be a war and a great fight and you won’t be disappointed.”
On April 7th, Erislandy Lara (25-2-2) will fight Jarett Hurd (21-0) in an IBF and WBA super welterweight title unifier to be held at a site yet to be mentioned. “It’s time to put everyone on notice who the best 154-pounder is,” said Hurd. “I know a win over Erislandy Lara will put me there so I’m coming for that number one spot.”
On April 21’st, Adrien Broner (33-3) will face Omar Figueroa (27-0-1) in a WBC super lightweight title eliminator at a yet to be disclosed location. Lightweight Gervonta Davis (19-0) will also be on the card against an opponent to be named. “I’m trying to outshine everybody,” Broner stated. “I have to go crazy. I have to rematch Mikey. I have to fight Shawn Porter. This fight is the start of the turn-up. I’m ready. Let’s get it on. He’s undefeated, I’m trying to give him his first loss.”
On May 19th, Keith Thurman (28-0) will defend his WBA welterweight title at the Barclay’s Center against an opponent who has yet to be officially named (though many believe it will be 28-2 former titlist Jessie Vargas). “I’m truly looking forward to being back in the ring May 19,” said Thurman. “After that, I’m going to bring a more exciting fight later on this year.” On that same date, Adonis Stevenson (29-1) will battle Badu Jack (22-1-2) for Stevenson’s WBC light heavyweight title in Canada.
Lastly, on June 9th, Leo Santa Cruz (34-1-1) will rematch Abner Mares (31-2-1) for the WBA super featherweight title. Jermell Charlo (30-0) will also be facing a yet to be named opponent in defense of his WBC super welterweight title on that same Staples Center card. “It’s been two years since I fought Leo Santa Cruz,” claimed Mares, “and all I’ve been thinking about is redemption.” Charlo had a few unique words of his own to add. “I’m going to stay fly, get my body count up and let that lion roar,” he said.
All of the PBC fights mentioned will be aired live on the Showtime pay cable network.