With this Coronavirus shutting down boxing, along with the rest of the world, it’s a good time to review the first quarter of the 2020 boxing year. So far we’ve had a pretty good start to the year, featuring a few shocking upsets, several quality fights and a mega event in Wilder vs. Fury 2. Once again, for those who haven’t read one of my progress report cards, this article is to use basic information to give my thoughts on that info. I’m not here to talk in detail about the differences in platforms, whether it’s available via free TV, basic cable, paid subscription, or on PPV. This is simply about the fights, not hitting my head on a wall with a run of the mill boxing twitter argument pertaining to someone’s favorite platform.
Let’s begin with Showtime since they massively disappointed boxing fans last year with the lack of top-level matchups. Don’t get me wrong I do like their uptick in ShoBox cards and it’s great they support woman’s boxing. Bottom line is they had a horrible 2019 when you compare it with their 2016-2018 run. Things got off to a mediocre start overall for Showtime in January with Shobox events and dreadful card featuring Danny Garcia and Jarrett Hurd in separate fights. The only worthy fight was Fulton vs. Khegai, but they did have a pretty good main event on paper in February between Gary Russell Jr. and King Tug and on the undercard Arboleda vs. Velez was very entertaining. If we can somewhat believe what head of sports programming for Showtime Stephen Espinoza says, we should get a much better product in 2020 and based off what they had scheduled I think that’s very possible.
Moving on to ESPN which includes ESPN+. In January they had a mid-level bout of interest on paper between Joe Smith Jr. and Jessie Hart. Their best main event matchup was obviously the Wilder-Fury rematch to which we can give them half the credit since it was a split PPV fight with FOX. The KO result was somewhat shocking because it came from Fury and not Wilder. This was a massive fight that stopped the sports world grabbing lots of the mainstream media’s attention. The best thing about how big it got was it didn’t have to involve Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, or Canelo Alvarez. The other solid fight on ESPN was Ramirez vs. Postol but it got postponed in February due to the virus and it taking place in China. It does seem that ESPN will have a better product on the main channel in 2020, instead of the majority of their best stuff on ESPN+, as was the case in 2019.
DAZN has gotten off to an impressive start thus far when it comes to delivering quality fights to the hardcore fans. Take the stay busy main event or YouTube fights away and focus on the undercards. A perfect example was their Miami card the Thursday before the Super Bowl. Sure, Andrade vs. Keeler and a YouTube co-feature sucks on the surface but DAZN also had Diaz-Farmer and one of the best scraps of the year, Roman-M.J.
Their last card was a great triple-header that looked pretty damn good on paper then lived up to it in the ring. Garcia-Vargas and Martinez-Harris turned out to be even better on fight night. The 50-50 Yafai-Gonzalez fight going in gave us a one-sided affair but it was masked from celebration for the resurgence of Chocolatito. Carroll-Quigg seemed to be a tightly-matched bout and T.J. Doheny was shockingly upset by a 12-2 Ionut Baluta. DAZN hasn’t made any ‘IT’ fights as far as any casuals getting pumped about them but they definitely get a high grade based off how many entertaining fights they’ve made. Judging by what they had on their 2nd quarter schedule DAZN is going to keep the ball rolling the way they have since late April 2019.
From a FOX/FS1 perspective, like DAZN, got off to a great start for the 1st quarter of 2020. Many media members and boxing fans shrugged at the FOX lineup from January to March (similar to last year). In January FOX gave fans a major upset in Williams-Rosario, and the undercard was not filled with competitive fights per say but Chris Colbert did get a legitimate test versus Jezreel Corrales.
February on FS1 was a stay busy tune-up for Yordenis Ugas but Collard-Guajardo was a blast. On FOX that same month Caleb Plant fought a mismatch of a mandatory but the opening bout was entertaining and Perrella-Ramos was dramatically controversial. Another major upset in March came on FOX when Robert Helenius kayoed Adam Kownacki right in front of his Polish people. FOX like ESPN, gets half of the credit for making the biggest fight to date in Wilder-Fury 2.
All and all the FOX main events have stood out over all of the competition and the DAZN undercards have been stacked with two-way scraps that produced lots of entertainment. Showtime & ESPN still have their work cut out for them to catch up with FOX/DAZN. Let’s hope when this virus pandemic is over that boxing comes back with a bang.
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