clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Premier Boxing Champions live on network TV: Is this the future of boxing?

New, comments

Saturday night, PBC debuts on network television. Is this the future of boxing, or are we as fans being set up for disappointment? Fraser Coffeen tries to answer the question in this fight preview.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Saturday March 7, Bloody Elbow presents fight coverage of the debut of Premier Boxing Champions live on primetime television. PBC Thurman vs. Guerrero airs live on NBC this Saturday, March 7 with a fight time of 8:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. PT. Bloody Elbow will have live fight coverage, including results and discussion.

Ask any boxing fan about 2014 and you will hear the same thing - that was not a good year. The HBO vs. Showtime war which had generated exciting match-ups in 2013 instead stagnated. It seemed that the order of the day was protecting fighters, not challenging them, and as a result, the year is best characterized by fights like Danny Garcia vs. Rod Salka. PPV numbers were down, as people just couldn't be bothered to care about Manny Pacquiao vs. the caged Chris Algieri. Sure there were some exciting talents out there competing - Gennady Golovkin chief among them - but those talents spent most of the year waiting for a worthy opponent while idly beating down whatever was thrown before them.

Enter an unlikely savior: Al Haymon.

The man behind Saturday's debuting Premier Boxing Champions, Haymon is not a figure anyone would have predicted could bring boxing out of its rut. That's because, to a large extent, Al Haymon is the very man who drove us into that rut. Manager to many of the sport's biggest names, Haymon again and again in 2014 encouraged his talent to take the safer, easy fight instead of the tougher, more fan-friendly one. The result was a series of lackluster HBO and Showtime events.

This weekend, that all changes. What Haymon has done with PBC is pretty amazing, and yet deceptively simple. Saturday night, he takes 4 of the most interesting, exciting talents in his stable, and he matches them up in close, competitive and, above all else, stylistically exciting fights. Take a look at the two fights he is delivering Saturday night. In Thurman vs. Guerrero, you have the test Thurman needs against the winner of one of 2014's best fights. In Broner vs. Molina, he has another strong test for the potential superstar Broner, who is paired up with another 2014 fight of the year participant (and Broner himself was in one of 2013's standout fights). It's hard to envision either of these fights being boring.

More PBC Boxing coverage:
Bad Left Hook

Oh, and just in case that's not enough, Haymon puts that on free TV. And that is perhaps the most remarkable feat of PBC. Haymon has taken the HBO/Showtime/PPV model and turned it on its head, returning boxing to primetime television. And he's done so with a cross-network platform that is frankly unheard of in combat sports. Tomorrow, PBC airs on NBC. Next week, they are on Spike. After that, CBS. Across all of those stations, the company continues to put on great fights. Just take a look at some of these upcoming offerings: Danny Garcia vs Lamont Peterson, Andy Lee vs Peter Quillin, Omar Figueroa vs Ricky Burns... these are fights worth getting excited about. And they are fights that stand in sharp contrast to the fights Haymon was putting together a year ago.

And this then leads to the obvious question about PBC - what is the ultimate plan here? The answer: we don't know. Haymon stands in sharp contrast to most boxing businessmen. Whereas figures like Bob Arum and Don King are known for being in the public eye, Haymon keeps quiet, very rarely granting interviews or taking center stage. And so we don't know his exact plans or how he sees the future of PBC. Will he continue to stage these same high-quality fights in an attempt to squeeze the pay TV model out of boxing, as some have speculated? Or is he only using these fights in order to draw early eyeballs to PBC, and once these early shows are done, we'll be back to the lopsided events of 2014 as Haymon refocuses on building up his fighters at all costs?

Again, we just don't know, and we won't know for some time. If it's the latter, then PBC will end up looking an awful lot like the past two years of boxing - excitement for the future, followed by the disappointment keenly known to boxing fans. But if it's the former - if cards like Saturday night's are here to stay - then Premier Boxing Champions just might be the future of boxing. And that future looks bright indeed.

Join us here at Bloody Elbow for PBC Thurman vs. Guerrero results, discussion, and live fight coverage this Saturday, March 7.

THURMAN VS. GUERRERO FIGHT CARD:

Keith Thurman (24-0; 21 KOs) vs. Robert Guerrero (32-2-1; 18 KOs) - Welterweight (147 lbs.)

Adrien Broner (29-1; 22 KOs) vs. John Molina, Jr. (27-5; 22 KOs) - Junior Welterweight (140 lbs.)