Last Saturday boxing fans were faced with a choice: Showtime or HBO. Both networks showcased cards with championships fights and competing time slots. Even if you were quick on the draw with the remote you generally had to focus on one fight or the other. Let’s go through the matchups.
Showtime scored big with their young up and coming heavyweight champion from England, Anthony Joshua. AJ made his third successful defense and afterward promoted his next fight with Wladimir Klitschko who stepped in the ring to join in on the huge announcement. AJ was in great shape and showed off his abilities with excellent form against a journeyman opponent who was rightfully TKO’d in the 3rd round. The fight was tape delayed but ran in good sequence following the earlier main event.
HBO showcased Top Rank’s new fighter, Joseph Parker from New Zealand. Parker faced Andy Ruiz who failed in his attempt to be the first ever Mexican heavyweight champion. Parker for his part didn’t impress and only won a majority decision. A unification would be the best option for the sport and biggest payday for Parker but we’ll more than likely see Bob Arum and Top Rank try to milk him for a few more fights before he gets in the ring with the big boys.
HBO went with former lightweight champion and veteran Raymundo Beltran versus little known Mason Bernard. Beltran scored a good looking KO and won back some relevance though hardly made an impact on the grandiose scheme of things in his loaded division. I see him being in another gate keeper fight in the near future, probably against a brighter prospect.
Showtime really ran away with the win with their undercard choice. Undefeated Jermall Charlo (25-0, 19 KOs) KO’d now previously undefeated Julian “J Rock” Williams (22-1-1, 14 KOs) to retain his IBF junior middleweight title. Charlo dropped top contender Williams three times in rout to the win. This matchup was one of the best that could be made at 154lbs so kudos for Showtime for putting it together.
HBO put Terence Crawford in the spotlight once more for a defense of his now unified light welterweight titles. Crawford this time was paired up with a Herman Munstor look alike in John Molina, who also moved a bit monstrously inside the ring. With a number of compelling fights available to Crawford including a unification option with the now former IBF champion Eduard Troyanovsky (he lost his title the week prior) it was disappointing to see this bout. HBO couldn’t lure an obscure Russian looking for television coverage to make a more compelling matchup? Crawford (30-0, 21 KOs) easily handled and TKO’d Molina (29-7 23 KOs) in the 8th round.
Showtime secured a clean sweep on the night’s action with an entertaining pair of hard hitting Mexican featherweights. Abner Mares (30-2-1, 15 KOs) earned the WBA “regular” title with his unanimous decision win over Jesus Cuellar (28-2, 21 KOs). Over 1,300 punches were thrown in this slugfest in which Mares also secured a late knockdown in the 11th round. An exciting fight for a packed division that will hopefully see a lot more fights made and showcased next year.
Showtime matched the better fighters and had more entertainment Saturday night. HBO had the opportunity to make a great night of boxing but instead settled for a mismatched main event for their subscribers. To everyones chagrin, Joseph Parker didn’t win his heavyweight title in style and will probably continue to be an afterthought to the likes of Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko. Showtime and HBO will again air competing cards next month on January 28th. On paper Showtime has the better matchups that night as well while HBO is aiming for under the radar matchmaking with potential shock value to garner excitement. Let’s hope for the sake of the sport, both networks have a good night.
Looking beyond, 2017 holds promise in the first quarter for Showtime as they have two unification bouts scheduled and a highly anticipated rematch between Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA “super” featherweight title. HBO only has one other fight scheduled thus far and it could possibly end up on PPV even though it pairs two inactive fighters (Miguel Cotto vs James Kirkland) coming off of losses who are beyond their primes. I should add that the PPV would be extremely pricey compared to international standards and won’t do HBO any favors with Showtime potentially letting the most highly anticipated welterweight fight of the year (Garcia – Thurman) air for free on CBS the following week.