WITH Al Haymon’s ‘Premier Boxing Championship’ series getting impressive ratings on NBC, peaking over 4 million views (and about 1 million on Spike TV), CBS, ABC and now to ESPN are scheduled to also get involved, and WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder is all for it.
ESPN telecasts will air live on 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.
It’s designed to have the feel of a throwback to the ‘good old days’ of boxing. Certainly, with the sport returning to free network viewing channels in the USA, and Britain, the profile of the profile of the grand old noble art seems to be on the up again.
The cards will be thrown into the air on Saturday afternoons, reviving the tradition of middle-of-the-day boxing that helped gain mainstream exposure for fighters like Sugar Ray Leonard and Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini in the 1980s.
There will always be the need for cable to generate the really big money on PPV, but network television exposure can help build the sport that can take a boxer to those heights.
Haymon has put into place a carefully designed marketing and distribution plan, designed to bring significant fights and fighters back to mainstream fans while limiting the avenues for competition, particularly for HBO.
Rapidly rising heavyweight star Deontay Wilder, represented by Haymon, would be delighted to be involved.
“Al Haymon is a great man and a very intelligent businessman,” Wilder told Boxing News. “Look I don’t really care about PPV, there is no major sport that is on a PPV system, it is expensive for general fans and limits the reach for us as athletes and for the sport of boxing in general.
“Al Haymon did the right thing to take boxing back to free TV, which will be aired live to potentially over 100m viewers. Who doesn’t want that? It’s great for the sport of boxing to go mainstream.
“We will see after my time off, what is the next step for me, I am looking forward to the big fights and to unify the heavyweight division,” the fighter – who beat Bermane Stiverne to win his title in January – concluded.
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