A big reason you are reading this month’s Jabs and Hooks closer to midmonth is because I was waiting for an official announcement from U.K. super promoter Eddie Hearn and his Matchroom Boxing Promotions. With his signing of champion Daniel Jacobs, Hearn’s U.S. invasion created much buzz. I guess you can compare it to what The Beatles’ U.S. invasion meant for music. Hearn announced a $1 billion deal to live stream 16 boxing shows a year over the next eight years. ESPN is introducing an app ESPN+ that is giving a glimpse of the future of watching sports. Looks like it’s headed to down streaming where you pay a monthly fee for the services, which for the ESPN+ app is $4.99 per month. The Hearn deal with DAZN will offer something similar.
The big news, however, is that what will be going by the wayside will be $99 pay per views that grew to a ridiculous price. I remember back in the beginning days of PPV fights. They ran $9.99, then over time increased in what seemed like $10 dollar increments. I will be happy to see a new wave of fans being able to watch and follow boxing. As a boxing guy, I am pretty much already forced to keep HBO and Showtime subscriptions in my cable package. If I have the choice in the future, it will be great to go a la carte and pay for a few various streaming services that allows me not to miss boxing action.
Big fight ahead, not digging into fans’ pockets
There is a huge bout Saturday night on ESPN that in past times would be PPV worthy. Fans are in for a real treat as pound-for-pound king Vasyl Lomachenko defends his lightweight crown in his toughest test against Jorge Linares. A lot of questions are going to be answered for the Ukrainian superstar against Linares, who was for a long time considered boxing’s best-kept secret as his career was mainly based in Japan. Linares now has a huge opportunity to solidify his greatness.
A look back at recent ringside clashes
As we sit in the boxing fan vehicle, we have things to look back on in the rear view mirror. Ample action marked the last two weeks of April and the first week of May. We saw the careers of stars such as Shakur Stevenson and Gabriel Flores Jr. continue to move successfully forward, with both picking up wins. We saw former champion Amir Khan return to England for the first time in four years to successfully get back on the winning track, while former champion and future Hall of Famer Nonito Donaire traveled to Ireland and lost his bid to be a five-time world champion against Carl Frampton.
Adrien “The Problem” Broner salvaged a fading career with a great performance in a draw against Jessie Vargas on a Showtime card that featured big wins from Houston’s Jermall Charlo and Maryland’s Gervonte “Tank” Davis as he reminded the fans of his talents in an impressive knockout victory. HBO had a heartfelt card as Matchroom Boxing Promotion’s Daniel Jacobs, a cancer survivor and middleweight champion, successfully defended his crown. The night was stolen from the performance of Brooklyn heavyweight Jarell “Big Baby” Miller, who had a big win and impressive performance to propel him as someone who needs to be taken seriously in the division. He also made many fans when he was accompanied to the ring by ‘Lilly,’ a teenage female fighting leukemia who Miller befriended during a fundraiser photo shoot several months back.
We also witnessed a great fight card on ESPN that saw Accra, Ghana’s Isaac Dogboe follow in the footsteps of his countryman and hero Azumah Nelson in his dethroning of champion Jessie Magdaleno in a fight that featured both fighters tasting the canvas. Nineteen-year-old junior welterweight and social media teen heart-throb Ryan Garcia remained undefeated with his decision victory over Jayson Velez. However, Garcia’s performance left much to be desired.
Tony Bellew, cruiserweight champion and star in the movie ‘Creed,’ once again defeated former champion David Haye in a sold-out show in the United Kingdom, while Triple G settled for a Cinco de Mayo bout against Vanes Martirosyan, 2004 U.S. Olympian who trained in Northern Nevada through 2003 in preparation for his Olympics performances. It certainly was a let down that his rematch with Canelo Alvarez was canceled due to Canelo’s failed test for a banned substance.
Northern Nevada boxers show their talent
The Reno, Nevada card promoted by Let’s Get It On Promotions on May 4 at the Reno/Sparks Convention Center saw three local fighters step up in competition and, for the most part, prove that there is legit young talent in the area that can hang with tough competition. Santos “Titos” Vasquez of Reno and Diego Elizondo of Carson City fought to draws in their respective bouts, but faced touted and, in Vasquez’s case, proven competition.
Elizondo battled to a draw against a respected prospect Canton Miller, who is trained by two-time Olympic Boxing Team Coach Basheer Abdulah. The night’s main event saw Oscar Vasquez in an off night as he lost to a talented 19-year-old prospect in Ricardo Sandoval. All in all, I think the card proved that Tommy and Terry Lane of Let’s Get It On Boxing are not wasting their time promoting locally with the talent available and other boxers waiting in the wings.
Another resurrection for women’s boxing?
It was March 16, 1996, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on a Mike Tyson PPV card when Christy Martin fought Deirdre Gogarty and stole the headlines to bring women’s boxing to the spotlight. Over the years, it has declined as such fights between Laila Ali and Ann Wolfe never materialized. But new stars have emerged, especially in Europe. ESPN showcased East L.A.’s Seniesa Estrada improve to 13-0 against an overmatched but very game Amarilis Adorno. Although it didn’t look good to see a prospect against a fighter who was 1-6 on paper. Adorno was willing to fight and as long as the fight lasted, was trying.
HBO televised its first-ever women’s bout last Saturday when longtime champion Cecilia Braekhus faced Kali Reis. The bout received mixed reviews but I did enjoy it. Showtime boxing is showcasing two-time Olympic Gold medalist Claressa Shields and unbeaten Christina Hammer in separate bouts in June. If this continues, ESPN will showcase up and coming females, Showtime will focus on the budding superstars and HBO will give some attention to some of the longtime fighters who hopefully will get exposure as their careers wind down. However it may be, the past week and coming weeks are going to help shape the future of women’s boxing.
– Simon Ruvalcaba