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Three Punch Combo: A Fond Farewell to HBO Boxing and More

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  • Three Punch Combo: A Fond Farewell to HBO Boxing and More

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    By Matt Andrzejewski

    THREE PUNCH COMBO -- Like many boxing fans, I was saddened by the news last week that HBO will no longer be televising live boxing beginning in 2019. Yes this was being foreshadowed for quite some time but that did not make this announcement any less painful. For so long HBO was the gold standard for the sport and many, like me, grew up watching almost all the big fights of our era on that network. There are memories that will last forever and helped make me as well as so many others from my generation boxing fans for life.

    The announcement had me thinking back to the very first time I watched a boxing event on HBO. And that was on October 31st, 1992 when Lennox Lewis stopped Donovan “Razor” Ruddock in the second round in what was at that time a very significant fight in the heavyweight division.

    I was first introduced to boxing at the age of seven on January 22nd, 1988. This was the night that Mike Tyson knocked out Larry Holmes. As a promotion for a local indoor soccer game that I attended with my father, the Tyson-Holmes fight was shown on a big screen after the game concluded. There was something about watching that fight and the intensity of the moment that instantly hooked me on the sport. From that point going forward, I did all I could to watch as much boxing as was available.

    But I had one big problem in those days. And that was that many of the big events ended up on HBO which was not a network my parents would shell out extra money to watch. So I had to settle in my early days of being a boxing fan of watching whatever I could that was on network television or cable.

    It killed me even at an early age to miss out on the big fights. I will never forget watching SportsCenter when the news broke on February 11th, 1990, that James “Buster” Douglas had shocked the world by defeating Mike Tyson. I begged my parents after that event to get HBO but to no avail.

    At this time, I also started to excel in math at school and began an early fascination into statistics. It took me some time but I finally figured out a way of using math to talk my parents into subscribing to HBO.

    In those days, my parents rented a lot of movies and I took the cost of the number of movies by month to argue that subscribing to HBO for the movies would save money. The seed was planted but took some time. Finally, an end of the year HBO promotion in October of 1992 coupled with my earlier breakdown of the numbers convinced my parents to make the call to get the network. It was easily one of the best moments of my childhood.

    I still remember everything about the HBO broadcast of Lewis-Ruddock like it was yesterday. The opening, with the Tales from the Crypt scene, to the build up to the fight, the fight itself and the aftermath including the tape delayed broadcast of Meldrick Taylor losing to Crisanto Espana. HBO Boxing was a big part of my life from this moment on and although their presence waned the last few years, it is still sad to see this iconic brand coming to an end.

    HBO Needs To Do The Right Thing

    HBO Boxing currently has one more card on its schedule. The headline attraction is a match for the vacant IBF middleweight title between Daniel Jacobs (34-2, 29 KO’s) and Sergiy Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KO's). In the co-feature, Alberto Machado (20-0, 16 KO’s) defends his 130-pound title against Yuandale Evans (20-1, 14 KO’s). These are a pair of solid contests that should entertain but there is a third fight on the Oct. 27th card that needs to be added to the broadcast.

    As it currently stands, the match between Heather Hardy (21-0, 4 KO’s) and Shelly Vincent (23-1, 1 KO) for the WBO Female Featherweight title isn’t part of the HBO telecast, but that could change. Hopefully HBO will see the light and include it. There is no logical reason for HBO to keep this bout off their broadcast especially now given the news that the network is exiting the business beginning in 2019. What harm could possibly be done by adding this bout to the show?

    Hardy-Vincent is a rematch of their 2016 fight won by Hardy. That fight was a slugfest that featured many thrilling exchanges between the two. Given the fact that they are equally matched and already produced one good fight and with much more at stake now, the rematch is certain to be a memorable scrap.

    For the longest time, HBO had been reluctant to televise women’s boxing. While female boxing grew and other networks embraced it, the longtime leader in the sport sat on the sidelines. The first female bout broadcast by the network finally took place in May when Cecilia Braekhus defeated Kali Reis by unanimous decision. HBO made a mistake by choosing not to televise women’s fights, but there’s still time to make up for this error. Hardy-Vincent II is going to be a war. By televising this bout, HBO would not only help these two fighters’ respective careers but help women’s boxing grow.

    Under The Radar Fight

    The online streaming service DAZN is back for its third straight week of live boxing, this time showing its first fight card from the United States. The card is headlined be welterweights Jessie Vargas (28-2-1, 10 KO’s) and Thomas Dulorme (24-3, 16 KO’s) in a pivotal crossroads fight. While I have a lot of interest in this contest, to me the light heavyweight title fight between defending champion Artur Beterbiev (12-0, 12 KO’s) and Callum Johnson (17-0, 12 KO’s) is the most intriguing fight on the card.

    Beterbiev was once the buzz in the boxing community. With a solid amateur pedigree and massive punching power, he was thought to be a can’t-miss star. And though he did win a world title in just his 12th pro fight, inactivity stalled his career. Now 33, Beterbiev has almost become an afterthought in what is a deep light heavyweight division and needs a breakout performance to get back in line for big fights.

    In Johnson, Beterbiev is facing his toughest opponent to date. Johnson is also 33 and is coming off a career best performance in starching veteran Frank Buglioni in one round. A skilled counterpuncher with heavy handed power in both hands, Johnson is fundamentally sound with above average hand speed for the division. On paper, he has the skillset to test Beterbiev.

    Styles make fights in boxing as we all know and I think the styles of Beterbiev and Johnson will lead to a good action fight. Beterbiev is the favorite and has the bigger punch. He is going to be aggressive and look to get Johnson out of there early to make a statement. But Johnson can fight and if he can withstand the power of Beterbiev early, this could be a barnburner.

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

  • #2
    very nice report


    • #3
      I expect the woman's fight will be added to the telecast. There's a grassroots campaign out there to make it happen. Cynic that I am, I suspect HBO is behind the campaign.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Kid Blast View Post
        very nice report
        Thanks KB, very much appreciated.


        • #5
          Originally posted by ArneK. View Post
          I expect the woman's fight will be added to the telecast. There's a grassroots campaign out there to make it happen. Cynic that I am, I suspect HBO is behind the campaign.
          I do agree, in the end I think HBO does add the fight to the telecast but may not make the announcement until the week of the fight. There is definitely a grassroots campaign going on at the moment to get this fight added on social media. Ultimately, I do not think HBO is behind it but I do think they relent to the pressure (and for some good PR) to get this fight on their air.


          • #6
            It is so sad to see HBO go. I honestly thought they'd hang around the sport in some aspect. So many memories including the one above.

            If anyone is looking for a live underdog this weekend, it is Callum Johnson. One thing I really like about him is the improvement he has shown in his career. He is getting better and better and his last fight, which was essentially a pick em fight, he blew away his opponent. Granted, Beterbiev is a big time puncher and he could certainly starch Johnson early as we really don't know about his chin. But if Johnson has a decent set of whiskers, this could be a prime spot for a shocker (and at somewhere around +800 depending where you look may be worth a little investment).


            • #7
              Originally posted by ArneK. View Post
              I expect the woman's fight will be added to the telecast. There's a grassroots campaign out there to make it happen. Cynic that I am, I suspect HBO is behind the campaign.
              Good call Arne and maybe HBO was in fact a little behind it. Late Wednesday night, they made the official announcement of expanding the telecast to a tripleheader including the Hardy-Vincent rematch and are receiving quite a bit of kudos (along with publicity) on social media.


              • #8
                HBO should be going out in a blaze of nostalgic glory.

                Instead they are showing us exactly why they need to be gone.