A few weeks ago in a non-publicized affair it was announced that Josesito “Riverside Rocky” Lopez will meet former welterweight champion Andre Berto in a main event on March 13. The place has not been determined as of yet but Spike TV will televise the event.
A tremendous re-shuffling of cards has taken place in the world of boxing in 2015 that will include several new major boxing promotion companies and a lot more television for the sport. We’re talking a lot.
Not since the 1980s has boxing been viewed on a regular basis on free television but that’s what fans will see beginning in March. NBC has signed a contract with Al Haymon and his army of 150-plus fighters to air more than 20 fight cards this year.
NBC will air Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero facing hard-hitting undefeated Keith “One Time” Thurman in a welterweight showdown and Adrien “The Problem” Broner meets West Covina’s head crushing John Molina in a junior welterweight clash. Both are slated to take place March 7, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. NBC will air the major fights free with a 5:30 p.m. start time.
Back in the 1980s CBS, ABC and NBC regularly showed major fights. Slowly boxing cards disappeared on regular television while stars such as Boom Boom Mancini, Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran and Muhammad Ali ended their careers.
New boxing promotion companies have emerged and with most of the major television slots already aligned with Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions, they needed new venues for their fighters. Hip hop’s Jay Z decided to buy out Gary Shaw Productions, including his television dates, and now has Showtime slots for his promotion company Roc Nation. He recently signed Andre Ward, who works for and with HBO currently.
Haymon, who has Riverside fighters Chris Arreola and Josesito Lopez among his army, negotiated a deal to have 20 televised shows on NBC and nearly a dozen more on NBC Sports Network, a smaller cable station. That’s roughly more than 30 televised fight cards over the year. He needs them for his army of fighters. Haymon is an advisor and does not have a promoter’s license and recently unveiled his company Premier Boxing. He has a working agreement with Goossen Promotions and some others.
A few weeks ago it was announced that many of Haymon’s fighters who worked under the Golden Boy banner would be leaving the Los Angeles-based promotion company. Those connected to Haymon that remain under Oscar De La Hoya’s umbrella are Paul Malignaggi, Amir Khan, Lucas Matthysse, and Leo Santa Cruz, who was victorious in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. On that same card Deontay Wilder captured the WBC heavyweight world title and fulfilled his last fight under Golden Boy Promotions.
De La Hoya’s company finally settled a dispute with former CEO Richard Schaefer who departed Golden Boy Promotions, though still under contract. Schaefer supposedly bought out his contract that extends until 2018 for a reported $50 million. He cannot work in boxing until 2016, according to some sources.
Still, with Golden Boy Promotions having television dates with Showtime, HBO and Fox Sports networks, they remain one of the powerhouse companies in the sport. Top Rank also has ties with HBO and UniMas, so they both remain prominent in boxing.
What this all means is that boxing will be televised quite a bit in 2015 and beyond. It’s the most ever this country has devoted to boxing.
Haymon’s company Premier Boxing has a large list of boxers to mix and match from within, but will there be inter-promotional battles, such as fights between Tim Bradley and Shawn Porter or Kell Brook versus Brandon Rios?
That remains to be seen.
Recent actions seem to indicate that a civil war exists between Haymon and Top Rank’s Bob Arum. That could end suddenly but as of how it stands now, don’t expect them to be chums.
However, boxing fans can applaud what’s coming for the rest of the year. The sweet science will be displayed to a national audience almost every week of the year. It’s like landing a three-punch combination and that’s a beautiful thing.
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