I often remember my grandfather hark back to his time and the glory days of boxing. For him it was during the explosion of network television and staple programs such as The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports. For him the best time to watch fights was during the late 70’s through 80’s. In his time, ABC’s Wide World of Sports often featured elite level boxing every Saturday afternoon. Soon there would be Tuesday Night Fights on USA and Friday Night Fights on upstart broadcaster ESPN.
Stay on the Couch – Your Weekend Fight Guide May 8th
Boxing was in abundance and the masses were happy. By the time I became an adolescent those days were nothing but a memory. Boxing had faded from the mainstream. Prominently featured on premium networks like HBO and Showtime, the consistent showings on network or even cable TV became increasingly rare. Without this medium, the number of household names dwindled. Meanwhile, the UFC entered it’s dark ages and struggled to get back on pay-per-view let alone cable.
Fast forward to today and to quote the good book, “my cup runneth over”. With all due respect to the perceived glory days of yesteryear there has never been a better time to be a combat sports fan. 2015 brought about the Al Haymon takeover of boxing and network and cable television. Through a dramatic series of time-buys, Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions is making almost weekly visits to your living room.
Of course, the UFC has their terrific partnership with FOX. On top of that they have activated their online digital platform UFC Fight Pass.
Spike was the long time home of the UFC but with their departure they have filled the vacancy nicely with a rotating series of fighting promotions every Friday night.
Wait, wait, wait… don’t forget to factor in AXS TV (formerly HDNet) who have been the lifeblood for the top regional promotions across the country.
Finally, we still have good old HBO and Showtime whose deep pockets ensure the top names in boxing still pop up a few times a year to deliver big fights. And just in case that wasn’t enough, the internet is giving any promoter an opportunity to display their goods via streams and iPPVs. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the real golden age of fighting.
This weekend is perhaps the best example of that. When all is said and done, martial arts/combat sports will be presenting almost a dozen cards over a 48 hour period. These cards range the full gauntlet of combat sports: boxing to kickboxing to mixed martial arts to submission fighting. For those that enjoy the full spectrum of fighting, this weekend is Christmas come early. With so much action going on, Last Word on Sports would like to present a primer course for what to watch with our weekend fight guide. God bless DVRs and VOD!
Friday, May 8th
Amir Mansour vs Joey Dawejko. ESPN2 @ 9:00pm EST
ESPN’s flagship boxing program “Friday Night Fights” is on its last legs. Here shortly it will be replaced by the new standard program, Premier Boxing Champions. Please take the time to enjoy this standard bearer of cable boxing. Looking to go out with a bang (literally) they are presenting a heavyweight showdown as their main event of the evening. Be advised a knockout is very likely.
Glen Tapia vs Michel Soro. TruTV @ 10:00pm EST
Not to be outdone by the frenetic pacing of PBC, Bob Arum’s Top Rank boxing is also getting its feet wet again on cable. Currently, they are presenting their up and coming talent in showcase fights that are intended to produce fireworks. The A-side to this show, Glen Tapia, is being primed to become Atlantic City’s next resident superstar. Defensively inept with lots of power and even more heart he should produce an entertaining bout.
RFA vs Legacy FC Superfights. AXS TV @ 10:00pm EST
Kudos must be given to AXS TV. Not only do they give us regular showings of solid regional promotions every week, they have now pulled off a big coup. Rarely are US companies engaged in cross-promotions. RFA and Legacy not only stage this rarity they are also pitting their top fighters against one another. A real treat for the fans and an excellent showcase for the hungry fighters. In the main event, Damacio Page takes on Alexandre Pantoja for the Flyweight Superfight title. Page is coming of a win in his last contest that produced a KO of the Year candidate. If that momentum continues you will be excited.
GLORY 21. Spike TV @ 11:00pm EST
As an avid K1 fan, the death of that promotion was difficult to recover from. In its absence, GLORY has stepped up to provide superfights and one-night tournaments much in the vein of K1. Although still struggling to find its identity and a sizable fan base, GLORY has found an excellent partner in Spike who are attempting to give fight fans something to enjoy every Friday. This card features a heavyweight tournament which is always a joy for knockout enthusiasts. These big boys typically do damage. For the really eager fans, the superfights from the card can be seen on iPPV @ 8:30pm EST.
Catch some sleep, it gets even hotter on Saturday
Saturday, May 9th
Omar Figueroa vs Ricky Burns. CBS @ 4:00pm EST
PBC is truly the biggest story of the year for boxing outside of MayPac. The ability to bring boxing back into the general public viewership was a terrific pickup by Al Haymon. PBC is bringing high-end production values and enlisting the top names in boxing promoted by Mr. Haymon. Unfortunately so far the action has been largely absent. Saturday’s afternoon show features a super lightweight tilt between the unbeaten Figueroa and Scotland’s star, Ricky Burns. Burns is just a few years removed from being seen as one of boxing’s hot prospects and big future draws. Time has not been on his side since then. After some disappointing contests and a defeat to Terrence Crawford, Burns has stepped away from the spotlight. Saturday is not only a crossroads fight but ultimately could prove to be his final opportunity. A fighter with his back to the wall has all the ability to provide high drama. That result is exactly what the PBC series is in desperate need of. Also on the card is the thrilling Tomoki Kameda.
Metamoris 6. iPPV @ 6:00pm EST
Undoubtedly, submission fighting is still a few steps away from the mainstream. Metamoris though has made huge inroads at getting more eyes on the sport. They combine an eye toward slick direction along with some of the top names in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA. In the end, Metamoris is becoming a hot topic each time another card is announced. Number 6 was to feature a huge main event between Josh Barnett and Cyborg Abreu. In his last outing, Barnett did the impossible to capture the heavyweight title, choking out Dean Lister. BJJ is hell-bent for revenge against catch-wrestling’s biggest promoter. Unfortunately, that fight was just scrapped a few days ago due to an injury. In his place, Ryron Grace has stepped up on short notice. Giving up a large weight difference and with little preparation it will be interesting to see what happens. The co-main is loaded with star power as Chael Sonnen takes on Renato “Babalu” Sobral. Perpetual UFC bonus winner Joe Lauzon is also on the program taking on Dillon Danis.
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs James Kirkland. HBO @ 9:00pm EST
With the fight from last week finally over, boxing’s purported #3 star will be back in action for the first time in 10 months. This fight is undoubtedly the biggest event of the weekend, so much so that we have already broken it down for you this week. Also on the card is an expected thriller between Humberto Soto and Frankie Gomez.
Mark Hunt vs Stipe Miocic. UFC Fight Pass @ 11:00pm EST
A heavyweight affair is closing out the weekend. And that is intended quite literally. Broadcasting live from Australia the UFC Fight Night 65 main event will most likely hit our computer screens very early Sunday morning. It is definitely worth the wait, we even gave you ten good reasons to watch the show earlier this week. Featuring two men who have no interest in the ground game but have very good takedown defense, we have a good shot of seeing a real barnburner. Both are in desperate need of a win. Add in the electric Australian live crowd and we should end on a bang.
In all, I hope everyone is not taking for granted weekends like this. Try to watch or DVR as many fights as you can. I plan on watching all of the above and then some. I know I have my work cut out for me. But then again, this isn’t really a chore.