This time in the world of boxing is unlike anything I have dealt with in a few decades in the sport…and I dare say unlike anything that has been seen in umpteen decades.
We have “our Super Bowl,” the long-awaited, much anticipated showdown between pound for pound aces Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, and we also have an attempt to bring boxing back to the masses.
We've been hidden behind payrolls, of premium cable and also PPV, more and more over the last 25 years, and starting in a couple weeks, that will change.
People couch-sitting on Saturday night, March 7, will be faced with an opportunity as they channel-flip.
“What's this?” I can hear Joe Blow from Idaho say. “Boxing? On NBC? Hmmm. That looks like a pretty good fight. Who are these guys?”
And guess what..ole Joe, who might very well have hopped off the bandwagon when Tyson left the stage, might well hop back on.
There's something timeless about the appeal of a back and forth prizefight, the extreme and majestic ebb and flow which provides drama and also a silent stand-in for the stuff of life itself: when presented with an opportunity to crumble, will the bloodied man on the canvas hoist himself back up, and attempt to turn the tide in his favor?
As metaphor for life, there is no offering in any entertainment arena which can hold a candle to our sport, which some accuse of being but a flickering flame…but those of us true believers have liked to think will roar back to life, and into the consciousness of a wider portion of the public.
The prizefighters gathered today at the famed cheesecake factory in Brooklyn, a stone's throw from the buzziest arena in the nation, Barclays, all see the sport, I dare say, somewhat the same way as I laid out there.
The hitters were present at a media gathering to hype an April 11 show at Barclays, to be promoted by Lou DiBella. Many of the scraps will run on NBC, as part of the “Premier Championship Boxing” series put together by Al Haymon and Haymon Boxing. (That series kicks off on March 7, 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC. NBC and NBCSN will present 20 live “PBC on NBC” boxing events in 2015.)
A Danny Garcia-Lamont Peterson catchweight duel will top the April 11 card, with a middleweight tangle, pitting WBO champ Andy Lee versus Peter Quillin, who held that crown, but gave it up, and now wants it back. It's a longish story…
Present at Juniors were a bunch of undercard scrappers, led by Danny Jacobs, the WBA middleweight champ. He meets challenger Caleb Truax, from Minnesota. Truax, I heard, wanted to stay where it's warmer, rather than be in frigid NYC… (I'm kiddinnggggg.)
Also at Juniors and steering clear of the cheesecakes was Heather Hardy, a rising star in the Dibella stable, and I dare say the only one to shoot a scene with Louis CK, in an episode of his show to air in April.
Others present included Gabriel Bracero, the pride of Sunset Park, Brooklyn, who'll tangle with a Bronx boxer, Felix Diaz, in a junior welter tangle.
Marcus Browne, slated to collide with Aaron Pryor Jr., showed up, wearing a Brooklyn Nets cap which drew appreciative “ahh” from the more fashion conscious.
“Did you get that at Barneys?” someone asked the light heavyweight.
I spoke to all those fine folks, and check back for their words on the event, and their foes, and what these bouts mean to them, and what this card means to the sport as a whole, in a bit……
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