NBC held an official press conference today to announce Premier Boxing Champions, an ambitious new program series from manager Al Haymon aimed at bringing elite boxing back to network television. The presser was noted for its exclusivity in not only live attendance, but also the fact that a password-protected stream was only provided to select media outlets. Nonetheless, here are the highlights from the company’s first press release.
– The official name for the series is Premier Boxing Champions, which will feature at least 20 cards this year. Those will include 11 on NBC and 5 in prime time. The cards will have pre and post-fight coverage.
– Al Michaels will be the lead commentator on all fights, with Sugar Ray Leonard handling boxing analyst duties.
– Elite, competitive fights were promised, with boxers to compete 3-4 times per year.
– All fighters will be subject to Olympic style drug testing and brain health tests, the latter being conducted by the Cleveland Clinic.
– Along with the confirmed March 7 card (Thurman vs. Guerrero, Broner vs. John Molina), Haymon Boxing VP of Operations Lamont Jones verified that Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson will headline a card on April 11.
– Fighters on hand at the presser included Robert Guerrero, Keith Thurman, Adrien Broner, Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns.
This is a very strong start for Haymon’s brand. If he keeps this up throughout the year, there is a distinct possibility that he ends up putting HBO and Showtime’s boxing product to shame. The alternative would be Showtime and HBO picking up their game to meet or exceed Haymon’s product. With Haymon’s large clientele list, there are literally dozens of elite matchups he can put on in-house. And should he start working with other promoters, we could really start to see something special happen with boxing re-emerging and connecting with casual fans.
If you’re a boxing fan, these are exciting developments. After the gross mismatches we saw in 2014, Haymon is well on his way to making amends…so far.