Boxing is back, baby. It’s got a rich history, and it’s not a thuggy sport, just for old men. That was the message I received as I watched the streaming presser for the Premier Boxing Champions Series, which will run on NBC Primetime and NBC cable, as put together by Haymon Promotions.
A presser occurred at NBC headquarters on Wedneday morning, and it ran a half hour. Select media were invited to the intimate gathering, while others were sent a stream link. For the record, as a BWAA first vice president I firmly feel all viable boxing media, and damn right, that includes internet only reporters, should have been given access, as I think this is a freedom of the press issue. That said, there was other elements to like, some very much so..
March 11, the series will premiere, on NBC, in primetime, and Al Michaels will host, and Sugar Ray Leonard will do analysis. The mainer will be a welter tangle between Keith Thurman and Robert Guerrero. Adrian Broner will fight rugged contender John Molina as a support bout. The main event for their next show, April 11, was also announced. Danny Garcia will not fight Rod Salka… Sorry, inside joke for the hardcore. He will meet Lamont Peterson, I think from Brooklyn and Barclays Center.
Select media and select stream-invitees saw a whole bunch of NBC management introed by host Liam McHugh, known for his hockey coverage. Nice messaging, his youthful face, a little touch reminding people that boxing isn’t only for smelly old men. Those waiting to see advisor/not promoter Al Haymon were disappointed, as the reclusive power broker was barely mentioned, and never seen. Was he behind the curtain? I do not know. I hoped Robert Duran, on site, would stride into the dummy ring/set, and tear off a mask, and voila, there would be Haymon. Alas, no, my acid dream scenario didn’t happen..
The event got an extra rub by being held in Studio 8H, home to Saturday Night Live. A video of highlights of boxing on NBC ran, and we were reminded that this sport has a majestic history. Also, the last time boxing ran on NBC prime time came 30 years ago, when Larry Holmes fought Carl The Truth Williams. I watched…
Al Michaels said he was psyched to be back in the boxing biz. He got his start in 1977, on ABC. You might want to Google that particular black eye special. Ah, this red light district of sports.
Michaels managed to get in a stiff one-two on old partner Howard Cosell, as well, showing he still got snap.
Composer Hans Zimmer will work to lift the drama factor with music prepared for the scraps, we heard. Also, random Olympic style testing will be done on PBC fighters, which is good news for those that care if fighters are taking Super Vitamins, or not. Also, we were told that fighters will scrap three or four times a year, good news as familiarity in this case breeds not contempt but..familiarity, and a reason to follow a story line.
For the record, NBC will run 11 PBC events, with five being on prime time.
Ill will was bred with many media feeling stiffed they didn’t get an invite. It felt to me like the Haymon crew wanted to present this series as a non-niche thing, and wanted mainstream, old guard media to tout it. Does the internet brigade feel dissed? Yes. Should they? Yes. I wish this was handled more deftly, with MUCH more transparency. This portion of the rollout was fumbled, to my mind, zero ifs ands or buts. That said, we hope things will smooth out from here and I will be lobbying for inclusion, not exclusion.
Lots to like regarding this venture, and I hope it lifts the sport as a whole, and fans get the love they have been too often missing out on.
Your thoughts, gang?
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