In another era it was ABC’s Wide World of Sports and other national networks that televised boxing on a regular basis. Then, the names became sports icons and more than the legend Muhammad Ali. Later HBO boxing introduced another perspective that also gravitated to another generation of boxing fans.
Showtime Championship Boxing became the other leader and two major cable outlets were the platform for championship fights. Many times, rivals were Showtime and HBO going head-to-head as they did once again this past weekend when WBO junior middleweight champion Tim Tszyu defended his title (Showtime) and Janibek Alimkhanuly unified the WBO and IBF titles on ESPN televised platforms.
So the fight to win the ratings was friendly and interesting. Most of all more fighters were granted opportunity at big pay days and exposure led to more. But streaming networks and social media platforms have been a detriment to televised boxing and to a certain extent a somewhat successful pay-per-view industry. HBO Boxing after 45 years removed themselves from the competition five years ago and that was a low blow.
Boxing survived because Showtime became a mainstay and the parent company Paramount Global, also a subsidiary of CBS, was a major component with their commitment and ability to compete that provided a platform for boxing. We witnessed Showtime Championship Boxing deliver the elite fights and the Hall of Fame names of Floyd Mayweather Jr. Manny Pacquiao, again with the face Canelo Alvarez, Mike Tyson, and the two fights with Evander Holyfield, so many more to mention that became household boxing names with the cable subscribed network.
But Tuesday the complexion of televised boxing once again changed when “Showtime Championship Boxing” announced they were ending their 37-year run as a leader in the industry, a rumor that unfortunately came to fruition.
“As we evolve our strategy to more efficiently allocate resources and align our content offering across the business, we’ve made the difficult decision not to move forward with boxing and other content produced by the SHOWTIME sports team,” Paramount said in a statement.
I attempted to reach some colleagues at Showtime for a statement and have not received a response, surely with understanding their reaction and wondering where over 37 employees will resurface including production crews, the efficient and reliable publicly staff, and marketing team. Broadcast talent have other roles outside of Showtime, regardless this is a major blow to them also.
Showtime Boxing has one other major event on the calendar before saying goodbye, November 25th from Las Vegas when David Benavidez opposes Demetrius Andrade, also pay-per-view and the winner is supposed to be next to oppose Alvarez for the unified super middleweight titles.
That could be their last televised fight as no others are on the calendar before this long run concludes as the year closes. Similar to the HBO concluding telecast so be prepared for memories and goodbyes that will be difficult to comprehend for a loyal boxing fan.
The fighters, well they always manage to find other avenues to continue their quest and legacies, including Alvarez who concluded the first of his three fight deal with Showtime and the PBC with a dominating win over Jermell Charlo on pay–per-view. Alvarez and the PBC long list of elite fighters could eventually be seen on the DAZN streaming network that also provides Matchroom Boxing and Golden Boy Promotions with a platform, so there is always room if they are willing to negotiate.
Someone could get knocked out of the box, but sources have informed me that the PBC, yet not confirmed, were expecting this day to come and were in talks with streaming networks including Amazon Prime that already has a lucrative deal in place with the NFL and MLB.
The PBC has not responded when asked for comment. Regardless, boxing has lost a major televised outlet for fans, and the fighters, so many of the elite contracted with the PBC, well that does not sit well for the sport that reportedly was thriving.
This year Gervontay Davis and Ryan Garcia, two of the rising superstars had their mega fight and Terence Crawford defeated Errol Spence Jr. for the undisputed welterweight titles, both on Showtime Boxing Pay Per View that had respectful buy rates but did not surpass records of the 2015 Showtime joint pay-per-view of Mayweather versus Pacquiao.
Alvarez and Jermell Charlo two weeks ago failed to generate over a million buys, a historic fight of two undisputed champions in different weight classes. Televised on Showtime Boxing Pay-Per-View, Alvarez dominated and retained the titles, and despite all the hype the numbers were disappointing.
Perhaps, too much pay-per-view became a detriment for Showtime and the revenue gained was not making ends meet. Boxing, though, has not been too successful overall with pay-per-view streams since that historic Mayweather-Pacquiao fight that broke revenue records and buy rates.
The competition got intense with the advent of more streaming networks, including DAZN and ESPN, but that also meant more opportunity and big pay days for the fighters. So many during the HBO era have said watching their telecast got them to walk in the gym and become the next champion.
Also, the increased popularity of the UFC and MMA put a dent into viewership with the demographics of a young audience that caters to combat sports and showmanship, seen last weekend with a DAZN Pay-Per-View event that erupted in post fight chaos with Logan Paul and Dillon Danis ending in a disqualification.
Apparently, we are in a new era or televised boxing is dying a slow death for cable networks. It’s a shame and Showtime will be remembered for many great and epic fights.
On a personal note, I will always recall that first and epic fight on Showtime involving the late Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo in May of 2005, one the boxing world still reflects because of the 10th round. Then and now, colleague Steve Albert, once the voice of Showtime Boxing, says this was his epic fight called at ringside.
And I will miss my colleague and the longtime Showtime Boxing voice of Mauro Ranallo, hopefully taking his great “Mama Mia” call to another platform. Indeed, we are entering a different era.
However, nothing now, as was with HBO, can replicate the historic and great run that Showtime Championship Boxing provided over the years.
Rich Mancuso: X (formerly Twitter @Ring786 Facebook.com Rich Mancuso