Three Punch Combo: Pacquiao on ESPN, Evander’s Maiden Show and More

THREE PUNCH COMBO: Late Sunday, Top Rank formally announced that ESPN would be televising the welterweight title fight between Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn. Speculation has been running rampant on social media regarding Top Rank’s future plans and this announcement begins to shed some light as to exactly what Top Rank has up its sleeve.

Make no mistake about it; Pacquiao-Horn is not a one fight deal with ESPN. This is the start of something much bigger with the network that Top Rank once had a long running relationship with in the 80’s and 90’s. While we do not yet know all the specifics, we do know Arum has been very vocal in his displeasure with HBO recently and has been hinting at finding new platforms to put on his shows. ESPN appears to be one such platform and expect Arum to take his bigger fights to the network in the near future. We will probably be seeing the likes of Vasyl Lomachenko, Terence Crawford and others perform on ESPN in significant fights prior to the end of the year.

One of the reasons for Arum choosing of ESPN is that they have a much wider net to get exposure for his fights than premium cable. He knows that by going the ESPN route, many more eyeballs will be on his shows than has been the case in the past. Also, he will have almost certainly learned from past mistakes of others who have tried this method and failed. Expect to see much higher quality bouts on ESPN and not mismatches that have plagued the sport in the past.

Some will argue that starting with Pacquiao-Horn is not good as this fight is perceived by many as a mismatch. But Pacquiao is a global superstar recognized by casual sports fans worldwide and Arum realized he needed a big splash to launch the series. He also couldn’t break the bank, hence the choice of Horn as the opponent and the venue in Australia where a large number of tickets have been sold to help offset the costs.

However, ESPN is not all Arum has up his sleeve. There has to be more. Arum has signed a ton of fighters in the past few months and recently cancelled his UniMas deal where many of his prospects had been picking up work. So there is more to this and in all probability that will mean some sort of online streaming service.

Keep in mind Top Rank was one of the first to venture into streaming fights online when they began several years ago televising the undercard bouts of some of their bigger cards. They have worked through the kinks and it was always believed in the industry that one of the reasons they were streaming such cards was with an eye to the future. Well, the future has now arrived. The model will probably look something similar to what the WWE currently offers its fans. For a monthly fee, fans will be provided with some live fights as well as access to Top Rank’s vast vault of prior fights. Top Rank fighters will have more opportunity to stay active building their careers.

Done right, this can work. Put competitive intriguing fights on ESPN and the building block/showcase fights elsewhere. Or if a star wants a tune up/stay busy fight, Top Rank can showcase on the online model and not network television unlike previous models. Don’t be surprised as well if Top Rank dips into the international pool and offers up live broadcasts of bouts that have otherwise been missed in the United States on this online service. Top Rank is rolling the dice and their unique approach may pay big dividends, not only for themselves but the sport as a whole.

Evander’s Maiden Voyage

Recent Hall of Fame inductee Evander Holyfield makes his debut as a promoter on Saturday and has put a string of competitive fights together in a card that will be televised on CBS Sports Network. The main event features veteran Derric Rossy (31-12, 15 KO’s) facing former 2008 Olympian Carlos Negron (19-1, 15 KO’s) in an evenly matched heavyweight bout. Granted, they are not the biggest names in the heavyweight division but they are well matched in what should be a competitive, fan friendly fight.

Rossy is a boxer-puncher who has been known to be drawn into slugfests. He hopes to use his experience to out-fox the still raw Negron who, despite his height at 6’6”, prefers to fight on the inside and could be drawn into a shootout. Negron also possesses a good left jab and can fight at range behind that jab using his height. He is green but has been getting better since being stopped by Epifanio Mendoza. In his last fight, Negron knocked out a 17-0 fighter in Cristian Galvez and hopes to build upon that momentum. This should be a solid heavyweight scrap and give Holyfield a good start in his new promotional endeavor.

Also on Holyfield’s initial show we will see one time can’t-miss prospect Toka Kahn Clary (21-1, 15 KOs) take on Angel Luna (11-2-1, 6 KOs). The former amateur star Kahn Clary suffered a major setback last September when he suffered a first round knockout loss to journeyman Jhon Gemino. Since that fight, he has notched two straight knockout wins against inferior opposition and takes a mild step up when facing Luna. Kahn Clary has speed, talent and power. If he can right the ship there is still plenty of time for the 24-year-old from Providence, RI, to achieve that status many thought he was destined.

What’s Next For Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev?

Andre Ward scored a controversial 8th round technical knockout win against Sergey Kovalev in their rematch on Saturday. Despite the controversy surrounding the win for Ward, a third fight between them is probably not in the works in the immediate future. So in what directions will Ward and Kovalev head?

Ward’s options are very limited at light heavyweight. Al Haymon has signed several of the top light heavyweights in the world. Haymon and Ward promoter Roc Nation do not have good relations. Potential matchups for Ward with such Haymon fighters as Adonis Stevenson, Artur Beterbiev or Marcus Browne are not realistic.

One name not aligned with Haymon who could draw interest as Ward’s next opponent is Joe Smith. Smith has a scheduled fight in Ward’s home state of California next month against Sullivan Barrera and a win puts Smith in prime position for something much bigger at light heavyweight. Smith would be the type of opponent HBO would be interested in and has no political affiliations that would prevent a match with Ward. Smith’s aggressive style could bring out the best in Ward and his natural counterpunching ability. It is a fight that I suspect Ward’s team will try to push for later this year.

Ward also discussed at the post-fight press conference about moving to cruiserweight. Given how deep cruiserweight is at the moment, moving up may be financially beneficial. If he goes this route, my guess would be that he would negotiate some catch weight with an opponent to see how he handles the higher weight. The opponent also would not be one of the top names since Ward would be testing the waters. Mike Perez, who recently moved down from heavyweight to cruiserweight, could be a possibility. He is a name and has appeared on a few occasions on HBO. Ward’s team may also look for an aggressive but limited fighter such as Olanrewaju Durodola.

As for Kovalev, his best option would be to move up to cruiserweight and participate in the World Boxing Super Series. This would give Kovalev the opportunity to fight the big fights he desires in a loaded weight class. If participating in the tournament is not an option, Kovalev may look for a return fight in Russia. One possible name in this scenario is Maksim Vlasov. Vlasov has a good record (38-2, 21 KOs) and is currently on an eight fight winning streak. With both fighters hailing from Russia, it would be easy to sell tickets. The fight could probably take place at a catch weight and allow Kovalev to also test the waters at a higher weight.

Ward and Kovalev will each head their separate ways following their two controversial bouts. The possibility of a third fight will always exist and don’t be surprised if in a few years they happen to meet each other once again inside the ring.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

Jeff Horn

COMMENTS

-KO Digest :

Informative read Matt, thanks. That chin of Clary tho, not good?


-oubobcat :

Informative read Matt, thanks. That chin of Clary tho, not good?
He has loads of talent. But chin is definitely a question. It could be a Badou Jack scenario where he bounces back. Tough to tell at the moment, but if he can pull it together has A level talent.


-oubobcat :

Informative read Matt, thanks. That chin of Clary tho, not good?
He has loads of talent. But chin is definitely a question. It could be a Badou Jack scenario where he bounces back. Tough to tell at the moment, but if he can pull it together has A level talent.


-KO Digest :

That's a good point. Jack was written off but came back strong.


-oubobcat :

One very interesting thing to watch for too in the Top Rank/ESPN deal. And that is whether or not Top Rank has any relationship with HBO. My guess is if they do, it will be limited to one off exception situations. Top Rank seems all in on making this arrangement with ESPN successful so why would they take any of their good potential fights to HBO? This could have ripple effects in the industry. HBO's budget is not what is use to be but they are still players in the sport. Will Golden Boy benefit by now possibly having more dates than anticipated? Could Peter Nelson at HBO make a phone call to Al Haymon inviting him back? It will be interesting...


-oubobcat :

One very interesting thing to watch for too in the Top Rank/ESPN deal. And that is whether or not Top Rank has any relationship with HBO. My guess is if they do, it will be limited to one off exception situations. Top Rank seems all in on making this arrangement with ESPN successful so why would they take any of their good potential fights to HBO? This could have ripple effects in the industry. HBO's budget is not what is use to be but they are still players in the sport. Will Golden Boy benefit by now possibly having more dates than anticipated? Could Peter Nelson at HBO make a phone call to Al Haymon inviting him back? It will be interesting...


-oubobcat :

There are rumors that HBO is not that interested in televising Kovalev's next bout. This is significant as it would free him up for the World Boxing Super Series. With the money being offered and big fights available, I sense Kovalev would jump at participating. And his name would be a big time get for the tournament. This definitely could happen.


-brownsugar :

Todd Deboef has been working on the deal for a year... He's also probably learned a lot from Al Hayman's mistakes in his pioneering effort to bring boxing back to network tv. I hear ABC (ESPN's parent company) and Disney are involved too. The platform reaches many more people than HBO. and I hear it's much more than a time buy, these companies are partnering with Top Rank to insure the venture is a success . Unlike Hayman, Arum says this is not a monopoly move...he says he'll work with anybody .... I like it already.


-brownsugar :

Its a shame if HBO is kicking The Krusher to the curb...he can still fight. One the other hand, RocNation may have had its fill of boxing and now that Ward had met his obligations to HBO and RocNation he may be joining his prot?g? Shakur Stevenson at Top Rank. One a sad note since Kovalev got a zero guarantee for the Ward rematch, he's only earned 14,000 on his 75% gate and PPV proceeds and may be looking to get away from Duva....just rumors. ...take it with a grain of salt. It's a tough out if the man who fought his first 17 fights for free in Russia is only getting peanuts for the rematch.


-oubobcat :

Todd Deboef has been working on the deal for a year... He's also probably learned a lot from Al Hayman's mistakes in his pioneering effort to bring boxing back to network tv. I hear ABC (ESPN's parent company) and Disney are involved too. The platform reaches many more people than HBO. and I hear it's much more than a time buy, these companies are partnering with Top Rank to insure the venture is a success . Unlike Hayman, Arum says this is not a monopoly move...he says he'll work with anybody .... I like it already.
That's an excellent point Bsug and one reason why I think this series from Top Rank will be successful. Top Rank saw what happened with PBC and the fan backlash. They also saw ratings plummet for fights that were not desirable and networks start to turn their backs despite the buy time arrangement. And how PBC had issues putting fights together because well they only did business with PBC. It was somewhat odd how many PBC cards ran. Remember for example the first ESPN show on the deal. It was Keith Thurman-Luis Collazo. Collazo of course was s huge underdog in a fight that Thurman was expected to win easy (the problem with many PBC main events). Well the co-feature was a pretty darn good fight on paper between Tony Harrison and Willie Nelson. Harrison, the star prospect, taking a big step up against Nelson. And it was a very exciting fight with Nelson rallying late. But it was not the main fight. And PBC did this frequently where their co-features were good competitive bouts but the main fight was weak and non-competitive Top Rank won't make this mistake. The show will be flipped. The main will be very good. Say Crawford-Indongo or Lomachenko-Salido II. The co-feature will be a building block type fight. The main event though is the meal ticket and must be good as well as competitive and that is what we will see from Top Rank. Also, the stay busy fights will go on the streaming network. For example, this would have been the perfect place for PBC to place Quillin-Zefara or Garcia-Vargas. Okay Danny Garcia wants work and a stay busy fight. No problem but not on a major network in prime time. And the pay will mirror the level of opponent. No more making $800,000 facing a club level or below type fighter. If a Top Rank fighter wants the big show on ESPN, they will be in a fight that on paper could be tough and they have no guarantees of easily winning. Finally, Top Rank knows that they must work with other promoters. Arum has referenced this as an area PBC fell short badly. He knows that it can't always be Top Rank vs. Top Rank. Others have to be involved to make the pool as large as possible. Personally, I am excited and think Top Rank is going to make this work. The future of the sport looks as bright as it ever has.


-oubobcat :

Todd Deboef has been working on the deal for a year... He's also probably learned a lot from Al Hayman's mistakes in his pioneering effort to bring boxing back to network tv. I hear ABC (ESPN's parent company) and Disney are involved too. The platform reaches many more people than HBO. and I hear it's much more than a time buy, these companies are partnering with Top Rank to insure the venture is a success . Unlike Hayman, Arum says this is not a monopoly move...he says he'll work with anybody .... I like it already.
That's an excellent point Bsug and one reason why I think this series from Top Rank will be successful. Top Rank saw what happened with PBC and the fan backlash. They also saw ratings plummet for fights that were not desirable and networks start to turn their backs despite the buy time arrangement. And how PBC had issues putting fights together because well they only did business with PBC. It was somewhat odd how many PBC cards ran. Remember for example the first ESPN show on the deal. It was Keith Thurman-Luis Collazo. Collazo of course was s huge underdog in a fight that Thurman was expected to win easy (the problem with many PBC main events). Well the co-feature was a pretty darn good fight on paper between Tony Harrison and Willie Nelson. Harrison, the star prospect, taking a big step up against Nelson. And it was a very exciting fight with Nelson rallying late. But it was not the main fight. And PBC did this frequently where their co-features were good competitive bouts but the main fight was weak and non-competitive Top Rank won't make this mistake. The show will be flipped. The main will be very good. Say Crawford-Indongo or Lomachenko-Salido II. The co-feature will be a building block type fight. The main event though is the meal ticket and must be good as well as competitive and that is what we will see from Top Rank. Also, the stay busy fights will go on the streaming network. For example, this would have been the perfect place for PBC to place Quillin-Zefara or Garcia-Vargas. Okay Danny Garcia wants work and a stay busy fight. No problem but not on a major network in prime time. And the pay will mirror the level of opponent. No more making $800,000 facing a club level or below type fighter. If a Top Rank fighter wants the big show on ESPN, they will be in a fight that on paper could be tough and they have no guarantees of easily winning. Finally, Top Rank knows that they must work with other promoters. Arum has referenced this as an area PBC fell short badly. He knows that it can't always be Top Rank vs. Top Rank. Others have to be involved to make the pool as large as possible. Personally, I am excited and think Top Rank is going to make this work. The future of the sport looks as bright as it ever has.


-brownsugar :

That's an excellent point Bsug and one reason why I think this series from Top Rank will be successful. Top Rank saw what happened with PBC and the fan backlash. They also saw ratings plummet for fights that were not desirable and networks start to turn their backs despite the buy time arrangement. And how PBC had issues putting fights together because well they only did business with PBC. It was somewhat odd how many PBC cards ran. Remember for example the first ESPN show on the deal. It was Keith Thurman-Luis Collazo. Collazo of course was s huge underdog in a fight that Thurman was expected to win easy (the problem with many PBC main events). Well the co-feature was a pretty darn good fight on paper between Tony Harrison and Willie Nelson. Harrison, the star prospect, taking a big step up against Nelson. And it was a very exciting fight with Nelson rallying late. But it was not the main fight. And PBC did this frequently where their co-features were good competitive bouts but the main fight was weak and non-competitive Top Rank won't make this mistake. The show will be flipped. The main will be very good. Say Crawford-Indongo or Lomachenko-Salido II. The co-feature will be a building block type fight. The main event though is the meal ticket and must be good as well as competitive and that is what we will see from Top Rank. Also, the stay busy fights will go on the streaming network. For example, this would have been the perfect place for PBC to place Quillin-Zefara or Garcia-Vargas. Okay Danny Garcia wants work and a stay busy fight. No problem but not on a major network in prime time. And the pay will mirror the level of opponent. No more making $800,000 facing a club level or below type fighter. If a Top Rank fighter wants the big show on ESPN, they will be in a fight that on paper could be tough and they have no guarantees of easily winning. Finally, Top Rank knows that they must work with other promoters. Arum has referenced this as an area PBC fell short badly. He knows that it can't always be Top Rank vs. Top Rank. Others have to be involved to make the pool as large as possible. Personally, I am excited and think Top Rank is going to make this work. The future of the sport looks as bright as it ever has.
Yep ....Personally I thought the PBC was better than the weekly ESPN show....and I didn't think the PBC was trash... Although notable journalists and podcasters like Steve Kim, Cris Manix and Don Chargon's show (ran by a couple of his hand picked pundits) broadcasted nonstop anti-Hayman propaganda on a daily basis. But out of approximately upwards of 200 fights aired by the PBC at least a 3rd were significant and entertaining. Plus he had a diverse stable of Eastern Block and Hispanic talent. However I can certainly relate to your perception of the PBC Oubobcat, I can't argue. ..and Hayman did himself no favors: by remaining an ominous-behind-the-scenes-shadowy figure who stole a ton of ODH fighters who were growing insecure about their future under Golden Boy's banner which was at the time ran by a drug binging CEO and who also was reputedly going to Buy up all the talent venues and dates until he eventually exalted himself as the Czar of Boxing. But there was no order to the process. ...a fight fan had to be a google master to find all the dates times and programming info due to thier short range announcements Many times i found out about the shows I missed days later. And even though PBC had a few eliminators in the bantam weight, lightheavyweight, and junior middle weight divisions, since they were using a time buy model there was no commitment to uniform standards of quality. Hayman could have been more transparent, better organised, more media friendly and easier to work with just to name a few things But PBC did open the door. I believe Top Rank will expand on the PBC concept and bring back the type of access to boxing we used to enjoy with shows like ABC's legendary Wide World of Sports which featured dozens of exciting matchups. I even heard that Arum will have all the fights he ever promoted ON DEMAND. ..3 or 4 decades worth... I look forward to when boxing is no longer held hostage by premium cable companies....lol Great comments OB.


-oubobcat :

Yep ....Personally I thought the PBC was better than the weekly ESPN show....and I didn't think the PBC was trash... Although notable journalists and podcasters like Steve Kim, Cris Manix and Don Chargon's show (ran by a couple of his hand picked pundits) broadcasted nonstop anti-Hayman propaganda on a daily basis. But out of approximately upwards of 200 fights aired by the PBC at least a 3rd were significant and entertaining. Plus he had a diverse stable of Eastern Block and Hispanic talent. However I can certainly relate to your perception of the PBC Oubobcat, I can't argue. ..and Hayman did himself no favors: by remaining an ominous-behind-the-scenes-shadowy figure who stole a ton of ODH fighters who were growing insecure about their future under Golden Boy's banner which was at the time ran by a drug binging CEO and who also was reputedly going to Buy up all the talent venues and dates until he eventually exalted himself as the Czar of Boxing. But there was no order to the process. ...a fight fan had to be a google master to find all the dates times and programming info due to thier short range announcements Many times i found out about the shows I missed days later. And even though PBC had a few eliminators in the bantam weight, lightheavyweight, and junior middle weight divisions, since they were using a time buy model there was no commitment to uniform standards of quality. Hayman could have been more transparent, better organised, more media friendly and easier to work with just to name a few things But PBC did open the door. I believe Top Rank will expand on the PBC concept and bring back the type of access to boxing we used to enjoy with shows like ABC's legendary Wide World of Sports which featured dozens of exciting matchups. I even heard that Arum will have all the fights he ever promoted ON DEMAND. ..3 or 4 decades worth... I look forward to when boxing is no longer held hostage by premium cable companies....lol Great comments OB.
I guess I could be best described as PBC neutral. I applauded the good and critiqued the bad but for the good of the sport wanted to see it work. I was even hopeful entering year 3 that things would turn and in a way they have. But turning more back towards the traditional model with Showtime getting most the big events now from PBC.


-oubobcat :

Yep ....Personally I thought the PBC was better than the weekly ESPN show....and I didn't think the PBC was trash... Although notable journalists and podcasters like Steve Kim, Cris Manix and Don Chargon's show (ran by a couple of his hand picked pundits) broadcasted nonstop anti-Hayman propaganda on a daily basis. But out of approximately upwards of 200 fights aired by the PBC at least a 3rd were significant and entertaining. Plus he had a diverse stable of Eastern Block and Hispanic talent. However I can certainly relate to your perception of the PBC Oubobcat, I can't argue. ..and Hayman did himself no favors: by remaining an ominous-behind-the-scenes-shadowy figure who stole a ton of ODH fighters who were growing insecure about their future under Golden Boy's banner which was at the time ran by a drug binging CEO and who also was reputedly going to Buy up all the talent venues and dates until he eventually exalted himself as the Czar of Boxing. But there was no order to the process. ...a fight fan had to be a google master to find all the dates times and programming info due to thier short range announcements Many times i found out about the shows I missed days later. And even though PBC had a few eliminators in the bantam weight, lightheavyweight, and junior middle weight divisions, since they were using a time buy model there was no commitment to uniform standards of quality. Hayman could have been more transparent, better organised, more media friendly and easier to work with just to name a few things But PBC did open the door. I believe Top Rank will expand on the PBC concept and bring back the type of access to boxing we used to enjoy with shows like ABC's legendary Wide World of Sports which featured dozens of exciting matchups. I even heard that Arum will have all the fights he ever promoted ON DEMAND. ..3 or 4 decades worth... I look forward to when boxing is no longer held hostage by premium cable companies....lol Great comments OB.
I guess I could be best described as PBC neutral. I applauded the good and critiqued the bad but for the good of the sport wanted to see it work. I was even hopeful entering year 3 that things would turn and in a way they have. But turning more back towards the traditional model with Showtime getting most the big events now from PBC.


-brownsugar :

I guess I could be best described as PBC neutral. I applauded the good and critiqued the bad but for the good of the sport wanted to see it work. I was even hopeful entering year 3 that things would turn and in a way they have. But turning more back towards the traditional model with Showtime getting most the big events now from PBC.
Never heard any unnecessary negativity from you OB... I think I might try to fill that position, lol.


-Kid Blast :

"I look forward to when boxing is no longer held hostage by premium cable companies....lol Great comments OB" We are moving in that direction methinks..