The Hauser Report: What's Going On With Premier Boxing Champions?


By Thomas Hauser

Eight years ago, Al Haymon unveiled what many thought would be the future of boxing. The boxing community had been awash in rumors for months. Haymon was amassing a war chest totaling hundreds of millions of dollars with the help of a venture capital fund in an effort to take over the sport . . . Haymon was signing hundreds of fighters to managerial and advisory contracts . . . Haymon was planning some sort of TV series . . . Time-buys on multiple networks for an entity called Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) were confirmed.

On March 7, 2015, Haymon began the rollout of his plan when NBC televised the inaugural PBC offering - a fight card featuring Keith Thurman and Adrien Broner in separate bouts. Free boxing. On network television.

But the plan fell short of expectations. Advertisers didn't come onboard. DAZN and then Saudi Arabia became the flavor of the month. Now PBC is seeking to reassert itself through an alliance with Amazon. The first "PBC on Prime Video" offering will be a pay-per-view event on March 30 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. But PBC isn't the power it once was. No one talks about Al Haymon taking over boxing anymore.

Amazon will distribute the PBC show. It wants to build a live pay-per-view platform for multiple events, and this is an early foray into that realm. It has no interest in playing the sort of role that HBO and Showtime played in boxing. Amazon (like In Demand) will take and distribute the product it's given.

The PBC pay-per-view events that are streamed on Prime Video will also be available to viewers through other streaming platforms like as well as linear-TV cable and satellite PPV distributors.

In addition, Prime Video has said that it will stream a series of "free" (with a subscription to Amazon Prime) PBC Championship Boxing events in the United States and other designated countries on an exclusive basis.

The degree to which Amazon will provide a marketing push for PBC's shows is unclear at the present time.

Four fights will be on the March 30 PPV stream. The main event was to have matched Keith Thurman vs. Tim Tszyu. Eight years ago when he headlined PBC's inaugural telecast on NBC, Thurman was young and fresh. Now he's 35 years old and has won only one fight in the preceding five years (a ten-round decision over Mario Barrios). Tszyu (the son of Kostya Tszyu) was eased into the WBO 154-pound title through an "interim" portal and is being groomed for a big-money fight down the road.

Then, earlier today (March 18), it was reported that Thurman had been injured in training camp and Sebastian Fundora (who'd been slated to fight Serheii Bohachuk on the undercard) will likely face Tszyu. Fundora was speeding along a fast track until his most recent fight which saw him pitching a shutout against Brian Mendoza when a one-punch knockout in round seven derailed his dream.

[caption id="attachment_80438" align="alignnone" width="300"]
Sebastian Fundora
Sebastian Fundora[/caption]
The primary supporting bouts on the pay-per-view stream are expected to be Erislandy Lara vs. Michael Zerafa and Rolly Romero vs. Isaac Cruz.

Lara is forty years old. During the past five years, he has fought Ramon Alvarez, Greg Vendetti, Thomas LaManna, and Gary O'Sullivan (which somehow enabled him to claim the WBA 160-pound belt). Zerafa's primary qualification seems to be that (like Tszyu) he's from Australia.

Romero is a tiresome loudmouth who often fails to back up his talk. He was knocked out by Gervonta Davis and was trailing Ismael Barroso on all three judges' scorecards when a premature stoppage by referee Tony Weeks gifted him the WBA 140-pound belt. Cruz went the distance in a losing effort against Davis.

Former Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza has been consulted with regard to production on the March 30 PPV stream. As of this writing, the commentating team hasn't been announced (which is odd since the event is less than two weeks away).

Meanwhile, the rest of the sports landscape is rapidly changing.

On January 23, it was announced that Netflix (Prime Video's most formidable competitor with 247 million subscribers) had signed a deal to stream WWE's flagship wrestling show - Raw. The ten-year deal will cost Netflix roughly five billion dollars. Netflix can opt out of the deal after five years or, if it chooses, extend it for another ten years.

Then, on March 7, Netflix furthered its commitment to "trash sports" when it announced that Mike Tyson and Jake Paul will meet in the ring in Texas on July 20 in an encounter to be streamed live on Netflix. It's unclear whether the encounter will be a "fight" or a glorified sparring session.

Adding to the mix; Disney, Fox, and Warner Brothers announced on February 6 that they will launch a joint subscription streaming service later this year that will bundle sports content from ESPN and affiliated networks (such as ABC, ESPN2, ESPNU, SECN, ACCN, ESPNEWS), the Warner Brothers' Discovery networks that showcase sports (TNT, TBS, TruTV), and Fox (the Fox broadcast network in addition to FS1, FS2 and BTN).

But back to PBC on Prime Video. If the March 30 fight card were streamed as part of the Amazon Prime membership package, it would be a plus for boxing fans. But it won't be. It's a pay-per-view event. And even before Thurman's injury, it wasn't pay-per-view-worthy as that term was once understood.

You get only one chance to make a first impression. This isn't a good first impression for PBC on Prime Video.


On December 17, I posted a column in which I urged that Gerry Cooney and Cedric Kushner be included on the ballot for induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. There's another, more obvious omission that I'd like to address.

Al Haymon has been at the center of the boxing universe for two decades. He built his power through a series of alliances with HBO (his point person was Kery Davis), Golden Boy (Richard Schaefer), and investors (Waddell & Reed) and maintained it through dealings with Showtime (Stephen Espinoza) and various other networks. There were times when it seemed as though he was on the verge of "taking over boxing." Now Saudi Arabian oil money is the dominant force. But Haymon is breaking new ground through an association between Premier Boxing Champions and Amazon Video.

Haymon likes to style himself as an "advisor" or "manager." In reality, he functions as a promoter. But labels are irrelevant. The bottom line is that no one has had a greater influence on boxing over the past twenty years than Al Haymon. He belongs in the International Boxing Hall of Fame, and the first step toward that end is to put his name on the ballot for induction.

Thomas Hauser's email address is His next book -- “MY MOTHER and me" -- is a personal memoir that will be published by Admission Press this spring and is available for pre-order at

In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. In 2019, Hauser was selected for boxing's highest honor - induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.