This is the time of exploding platforms and rights deal bonanzas, but, I must be honest, I am worried.
I am feeling like we might be in an era of quantity over-riding quality, with virtual leagues and clusters cementing and keeping some of the matches that we fight fans want to see from getting mode.
Forgive me, it could be a pre-holiday malaise or a hangover from over-indulging in the ingestion of “news.” But the Tuesday afternoon in LA roll-out of Fox fare put forth by Premier Boxing Champions didn’t get me jazzed.
And I wasn’t alone….
Sportscaster Chris Myers presided over the 45 minute event, which touched on the length of the deal, and shared how many bouts will screen on Fox and FS1, and that included dates for some of the PBC standouts who’ll be doing their thing in the Fox rings. Sad to say, a lack of energy and crackle in the room, which looked sparse, with the hardcore fight writer types sitting and tapping on keyboards and phones as they reacted to matchups, wasn’t helped by the matches themselves.
I’m not alone–on social media, people wondered why some of the A grade talent is being paired with B grade opposition, instead of other A teamers. Now, let me intellectually honest here, and more that this dynamic isn’t found solely in that room or promotional umbrella. We’re seeing too many showcases, still, even as the DAZNs and ESPNs make fans of pugilism pleased with the regularity of their programming.
To shift gears toward a middle ground stance of equanimity, I’m sure that some of the fights that weren’t floating my boat at this rollout will indeed play out to be fan friendly and memorable. OK, so the Dec. 22 at Barclays Center event has left some fans bummed that the Charlos aren’t being pitted against other young guns, like Jarrett Hurd and Danny Jacobs…but maybe that is an issue more so for Mark Silverman and the folks who send the checks to Al Haymon. This is an old song and we hear it sung every year—promoters and managers and those who help control the talent will try and spin the risk to reward ration to a place where they can keep elevating their fighters’ worth, while taking on minimal risks. The problem there is that too many showcases mean too little drama, too few humdingers which leave you re-playing frenetic action in your mental DVR.
Fair to say that the March 16 Errol Spence vs Mikey Garcia showdown received as much hubbub from media in attendance as any announce bout. But…that fight will be having fans dipping into their pocket, to pay a PPV surcharge, to satisfy the purse asks for the two A graders.
The rollout of the announce team didn’t send excitement ripples out; I’m happy to get more Boom Boom Mancini, but Lennox Lewis is at his best on throwback YouTube videos and his delivery and level of incisiveness will not have improved since HBO let him go.
Boxing will be back in Brooklyn Jan. 26, and it will be interesting to see what sort of drawing power Keith Thurman has after such a lengthy time away from the ring. I’d expect him to handle Josesito Lopez with relative ease, and expect the Barclays crew to not have the easiest time getting their attendance to that 12,000 region that they’d come to expect from Golden Boy shows into events promoted by Lou DiBella. Time will of course will tell…
As always, I hope to be pleasantly surprised whenever I’m feeling twinges of negativity. The fan in me will want to be proven wrong… But Silverman’s statement of “The 2019 PBC schedule kicks off with high-stakes action and excitement, making FOX the premier home for boxing and the continued leader in live sporting events” will be challenged mightily if and when the Showtime crew gets past their PPV forays and gets back to booking value for subscribers.
Also, the fights on ESPN promoted by Top Rank regularly win our “Who Won the Weekend” Monday morning quarterbacking effort.
So, yeah, Fox will have to have more than a bit of luck to live up to the Silverman standard. Here is the release Fox sent out after the rollout:
FOX SPORTS AND PREMIER BOXING CHAMPIONS ANNOUNCE EIGHT TITLE FIGHTS OVER FIRST THREE MONTHS, SPENCE JR. VS. GARCIA, MARCH 16
Five FOX, Four FS1 PBC Fight Nights, Plus First Pay-Per-View
Former Champions Lennox Lewis, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, and Erik “El Terrible” Morales Head Up FOX Sports, FOX Deportes Broadcast Teams
LOS ANGELES – FOX Sports and Premier Boxing Champions today announced eight televised world title fights in the first three months of the new deal, featuring eight world champions and more than two dozen of the world’s best boxers going toe-to-toe. The schedule includes five world-class boxing fight nights live on FOX and FOX Deportes, four more on FS1 and FOX Deportes, and the first FOX PBC Pay-Per-View in March.
“We’re thrilled to have Premier Boxing Champions’ brightest stars coming to FOX Sports reaching the biggest audiences on broadcast television,” says Mark Silverman, FOX Sports President, National Networks. “The 2019 PBC schedule kicks off with high-stakes action and excitement, making FOX the premier home for boxing and the continued leader in live sporting events.”
Schedule highlights include world champion twins Jermall and Jermell Charlo defending their titles in separate fights live in primetime on FOX on December 22; followed by welterweight champion Keith Thurman’s ring return on FOX January 26; featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz headlining on FOX February 23; 147-pound Champ Shawn Porter defending his world title March 9 on FOX; and the blockbuster showdown between welterweight Champ Errol Spence Jr. and four-division world champion Mikey Garcia, on FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View March 16, live from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
FOX Sports and FOX Deportes also announced the on-air personalities who will call all the thrilling action. Former heavyweight world Champion Lennox Lewis and former lightweight world champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini join FOX Sports as boxing analysts, while Emmy Award-winning broadcaster Chris Myers and Emmy Award-nominee Kenny Albert serve as blow-by-blow announcers. Seasoned FOX broadcaster Kate Abdo joins as a studio and fight night host. Plus, Boxing Hall of Famer Larry Hazzard works as a Rules Expert/Unofficial Scorer.
FOX Deportes taps International Boxing Hall of Fame member and former four-division world champion Erik “El Terrible” Morales, working with Jaime Motta and Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award winner Jessi Losada.
More on the FOX Sports PBC Schedule:
Jermall Charlo vs. Willie Monroe, Jr. and Jermell Charlo vs. Tony Harrison,Saturday, December 22, 2018, 8:00 PM ET on FOX. Barclays Center, Brooklyn
Twin titans kick off the new season of PBC on FOX, as Jermall Charlo (27-0, 21 KOs) defends his WBC interim middleweight title against top-rated contender Willie Monroe, Jr. (23-3, 6 KOs), while Jermell Charlo (31-0, 15 KOs) makes the fourth defense of his WBC Super Welterweight Championship against hard hitting former title challenger Tony Harrison (27-2, 21 KOs). Rounding out the evening, WBC mandatory challenger and 2012 U.S. Olympian Dominic “Trouble” Breazeale (19-1, 17 KOs) battles Carlos Negron (20-1, 16 KOs), a member of the Puerto Rican boxing team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Jose Uzcategui vs. Caleb Plant, Sunday, January 13, 2019, 8:00 PM ET on FS1. Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live in Los Angeles
IBF Super Middleweight Champion Jose Uzcategui (28-2, 23 KOs) battles undefeated, top-rated challenger Caleb Plant (17-0, 10 KOs).
Keith Thurman vs. Josesito Lopez, Saturday, January 26, 2019, 8:00 PM ET on FOX. Barclays Center, Brooklyn
Undefeated WBA Welterweight Champion Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) ends a long injury layoff to defend his title and starts to reclaim the division against battle-hardened veteran Josesito Lopez (36-7, 19 KOs). Also that evening, Adam Kownacki (18-0, 14 KOs), one of the fastest rising stars in the heavyweight division, takes on his toughest challenge to date when he steps in against U.S. Navy veteran and USC football standout Gerald Washington (19-2-1, 12 KOs).
Leo Santa Cruz vs. Miguel Flores, Saturday, February 16, 2019, 8:00 PM ET on FOX. Los Angeles
WBA Featherweight Champion Leo Santa Cruz (35-1-1, 19 KOs), one of the highest volume punchers in the sport, defends his title against the always tough Miguel Flores (23-2, 11 KOs). Plus, former WBC Lightweight Champion Omar Figueroa Jr. (27-0-1, 19 KOs) returns after a long injury layoff to face former title challenger John Molina Jr. (30-7, 24 KOs).
Anthony Dirrell vs. Avni Yildirim, Saturday, February 23, 2019, 10:00 PM ET on FS1. The Armory, Minneapolis
Former WBC Super Middleweight Champion Anthony Dirrell (32-1-1, 24 KOs) battles once-beaten Avni Yildirim (21-1), who faces the stiffest competition of his career, in a clash for the vacant WBC Super Middleweight Championship.
Shawn Porter vs. Yordenis Ugas, Saturday, March 9, 2019, 8:00 PM ET on FOX. Las Vegas
WBC Welterweight Champion Shawn Porter (29-2-1, 17 KOs) makes his first title defense against top-rated mandatory challenger Yordenis Ugas (23-3, 11 KOs), who gets his first world title shot.
Errol Spence Jr. vs. Mikey Garcia, Saturday, March 16, 2019, 9:00 PM ET on FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View. AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
In one of the most highly anticipated and intriguing matches in boxing, IBF Welterweight Champion Errol Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) will defend his title against four-division world champion and current WBC Lightweight Champion Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs), who is moving up two weight classes to challenge Spence.
Lamont Peterson vs. Sergey Lipinets, Sunday, March 24, 2019, 8:00 PM ET on FS1. MGM National Harbor, Oxon Hill, MD
Former junior welterweight and welterweight world champion Lamont Peterson (35-4-1, 17 KOs) clashes with former junior welterweight champion Sergey Lipinets (14-1, 10 KOs).
Caleb Truax vs. Peter Quillin, Saturday, April 13, 2019, 10:00 PM ET on FS1. The Armory, Minneapolis
Former super middleweight champion Caleb Truax (30-4-2, 19 KOs) meets former middleweight champion Peter Quillin (34-1-1, 23 KOs) in a battle to determine who climbs back into title contention.
Danny Garcia vs. Adrian Granados, Saturday, April 20, 2019, 8:00 PM ET on FOX.
Former junior welterweight and welterweight champion Danny Garcia (34-2, 20 KOs) wants to rebound from a razor-thin loss in his last bout to take on battle-tested Adrian Granados (20-6-2, 14 KOs).
FOX Sports PBC Additional Dates:
(Fights confirmed on a later date.)
Saturday, May 11, 2019, FOX
Saturday, May 25, 2019, FS1
Saturday, June 1, 2019, FS1
Sunday, June 23, 2019, FOX
Saturday, July 13, 2019, FS1
Saturday, July 20, 2019, FOX
Saturday, August 3, 2019, FOX
Saturday, August 24, 2019, FS1
Sunday, September 1, 2019, FOX
Saturday, September 21, 2019, FS1
Saturday, November 9, 2019, FS1
Saturday, December 14, 2019 on FOX
Saturday, December 21, 2019 on FS1
With the recently announced four-year deal, the FOX broadcast network will feature 10 marquee fight nights in prime time each year, while FS1 and FOX Deportes will telecast 12 fight nights annually. The package includes FOX Sports-PBC Pay-Per-View events. The Emmy Award-winning FOX Sports production team will produce more than 175 hours of original PBC boxing content per year across its channels.
All PBC on FOX Sports events and programming will be streamed live on the FOX Sports app, available in English or Spanish through the FOX, FS1 or FOX Deportes feeds. FOX Sports will offer a platform inside the app to allow viewers to stream the PPV events. In addition, FOX Sports Digital will have a dedicated FOXSports.com and FOX Sports App page for PBC coverage, in addition to dedicated YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels.
FOX Sports and PBC launched the highly regarded primetime boxing series TOE-TO-TOE TUESDAYS on FS1 and FOX Deportes in the fall of 2015, featuring PBC’s brightest up-and-coming boxers. The deal was expanded to include several fight nights on the FOX broadcast network, including exciting title fights such as heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder defending his title in February of 2016, July of 2016, and again in February of 2017, plus the exciting welterweight showdown between Danny Garcia and Robert Guerrero in January of 2016.
About FOX Sports
FOX Sports is the umbrella entity representing 21st Century FOX’s wide array of multi-platform US-based sports assets. Built with brands capable of reaching more than 100 million viewers in a single weekend, FOX Sports includes ownership and interests in linear television networks, digital and mobile programming, broadband platforms, multiple web sites, joint-venture businesses and several licensing partnerships. FOX Sports includes the sports television arm of the FOX Broadcasting Company; FS1, FS2; FOX Sports Regional Networks, their affiliated regional web sites and national programming; FOX Soccer Plus; FOX Deportes and FOX College Sports. In addition, FOX Sports also encompasses FOX Sports Digital, including FOXSports.com and the FOX Sports app. Also included in the Group are FOX’s interests in joint-venture businesses Big Ten Network and BTN 2Go, as well as a licensing agreement that established the FOX Sports Radio Network.
About Premier Boxing Champions
The Premier Boxing Champions series was created and is produced by Haymon Sports, LLC. It features the most accomplished and decorated array of international professional boxing talent across the most popular weight divisions.