Where there was smoke, there was fire. As has been rumored for months, and as we alerted you to, ESPN is moving away from its “Friday Night Fight” series, 17 years in the making, and will be providing boxing content furnished by Al Haymon. Haymon has purchased slots and time on ESPN, and FNF will bid adieu on May 22. (Will there be cake? Will Teddy smash it in someone’s face? Is there a crappy judge we can nominate? WE CAN HOPE.)
Thereafter, ESPN will show Premier Boxing Champions, Haymon fare, and will air 12 two-hour shows annually. The first show will unfold on Saturday, July 11 (9 PM ET). No ideas yet on who will fight on the card.
The ABC cards will air on Saturday afternoons, a throwback to boxing’s recent glory days, when fight fans could watch the sweet science on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, and other anthology shows.
ESPN boxing boss Brian Kweder was the driver in doing this deal. He was not immediately available for comment. In past discussions, he’s made it clear to me he is a boxing fan, believes in the sport, and wishes for The World-Wide Leader to be a platform for bigger-league bouts than we’ve seen on Friday Night Fights. This deal makes that a reality, and should be good news for fight fans. Typically, Kweder and his team collaborate on what matchups we will see, so I guess I’d assume, with the immensity and history of the ESPN brand, that would continue moving forward.
I’ve heard on the grapevine that this multi-year package is for two years, and that the sum paid to ESPN was/will be $8 million, but do not have that information verified by the company, which isn’t keen on furnishing monetary particulars.
Here is the release which went out today:
ESPN Reaches Multi-Year Agreement to Televise
Premier Boxing Champions Series PBC on ESPN to Air 12 Two-hour Live Shows Annually on ESPN and ABC
March 18, 2015 – ESPN will televise Premier Boxing Champions, a series created for television by Haymon Boxing, featuring top-level fights between many of boxing’s biggest names. The multi-year agreement was announced today. The first of 12 two-hour annual live Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN (PBC on ESPN) telecasts is scheduled for Saturday, July 11, at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
ESPN telecasts will air live in primetime. ABC broadcasts will air on Saturday afternoon, with further details to be announced at a later date. ESPN Deportes, ESPN’s Spanish-language network, will also televise all PBC on ESPN fights as part of its Noche de Combates series.
Live coverage will also be available through WatchESPN on computers, smartphones, tablets, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 and Xbox One via an affiliated video provider. The agreement also includes worldwide rights via ESPN International.
Card details of the first PBC on ESPN telecast and subsequent shows will be announced at a later date. ESPN’s long-standing Friday Night Fights will celebrate its last show Friday, May 22 with the finals of the Boxcino 2015 tournament.”ESPN has a long history of carrying world-class boxing events and the new Premier Boxing Champions series continues our commitment to the sport with premier-level primetime fights previously only available on premium cable networks,” said John Skipper, ESPN president.
PBC on ESPN telecasts will be produced by ESPN. Blow-by-blow commentator Joe Tessitoreand analyst Teddy Atlas, both recipients of the prestigious Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism presented by the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA), will call the fights ringside on ESPN and ABC.
Additional on-air commentators will be announced at a later date.
ESPN3, ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network, will present non-televised undercard bouts and PBC on ESPN weigh-ins live leading up to the fights. Stories about the fighters and the fights will also be featured on ESPN.com and on SportsCenter.
Boxing on ESPN
Boxing has been a staple of ESPN’s programming for nearly 35 years. ESPN began televising boxing on April 10, 1980 – the network’s first year on the air – when weekly boxing returned to television for the first time since 1964. For the past 17 years, ESPN Friday Night Fights hasshowcased some of the best bouts in the boxing industry and introduced fans to future stars and champions.
About Haymon Boxing Management
Haymon Boxing Management is based in Las Vegas, Nevada, and manages and advises more than 200 professional fighters.
For more information on Premier Boxing Champions, visit:
premierboxingchampions.com, facebook.com/premierboxingchampions, or https://twitter.com/premierboxing