There was a time as Premier Boxing Champions made its debut in the spring of 2015, that it's stated mission statement was 'Free Boxing for All'. That after years of being showcased on premium cable and pay-per-view, that this organization (led by Al Haymon and funded by Waddell and Reed) would bring the great sport of boxing back to the masses on network television.
You can argue how much of an impact they have had on the boxing industry. There are both many detractors and advocates of the PBC. But this much is clear, as you see their early schedule for the first quarter of 2022, well, it's no longer...
FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! (Sorry, couldn't resist)
While there are fights lined up on Showtime, there are already three pay-per-view cards on Fox Sports. Chances are there will be even more the rest of the year.
On New Years night, there is lower priced card ($39.99) that features a cadre of heavyweights headlined by Luis Ortiz-Charles Martin, and Frankie Sanchez-Carlos Negron. Years ago, this would've been a really good version of 'Heavyweight Explosion' brought to you by Cedric Kushner, or an HBO 'Boxing After Dark' telecast.
This promotion takes place in Hollywood, Florida on a day when there is a full schedule of college bowl games taking place.
PBC on Fox
On February 5 from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Keith Thurman makes his return against Mario Barrios, with featherweight Leo Santa Cruz coming back versus Keenan Carbajal. Thurman has not fought since dropping a 12 round decision against Manny Pacquiao in the summer of 2019, and Barrios was stopped in May by Gervonta Davis in a junior welterweight contest. Santa Cruz in his last outing back in October of 2020 was also a KO victim of 'Tank'. Meaning that three of the four boxers in the main and co-headlining bouts are coming off losses.
Also on this pay-per-view lineup is a welterweight contest between Abel Ramos and Josesito Lopez, and an interesting featherweight pairing between Carlos Castro and Luis Nery.
This comes on a night where both DAZN and ESPN+ will have cards of their own.
After that, you'll have a welterweight unification tilt with WBC/IBF champion, Errol Spence, and WBA belt-holder, Yordenis Ugas. This fight was recently approved by the WBA (and more on that in an upcoming edition of K9's Corner) and while it features to elite 147-pounders, there is a segment of boxing fans who are dismayed that Spence is not facing WBO titlist, Terence Crawford, who is no longer bound to Top Rank.
PBC on Fox
It's not clear what Thurman-Barrios, and Spence-Ugas will be priced at. What is clear is that Fox will lean very much into pay-per-views in '22. Looking further down the road, when Davis and Deontay Wilder return, their next fights will most likely be placed on pay-per-view.
Yeah, it makes you long for the days of time-buys.
There is some chatter that as the calendar turns to 2022 about a lightweight match-up involving Ryan Garcia and Isaac Cruz. The 23 year old Garcia, has not fought since last January 2 (where he came off the canvas to stop Luke Campbell in seven), and pulled out of two scheduled bouts this past year.
As time goes on, he's becoming known more as a social media influencer than a professional prizefighter.
'Pitbull' Cruz just recently gave Davis all he could handle over 12 rounds, losing a close decision. This would be an interesting bout given the inactivity of Garcia, and just how game Cruz was just a few weeks ago. But you wonder if Golden Boy Promotions and PBC can actually come to an agreement on such a fight. These two companies rarely break bread nowadays.
If this fight doesn't come to fruition, look for guys like Mercito Gesta and Hector Tanajara Jr. to be given consideration for Garcia's return.
Best wishes to ring announcer, David Diamante, who was reportedly involved in a motorcycle accident... Last Friday night Thompson Boxing held a card at a familiar place, the DoubleTree Hotel in Ontario, California. Look out for Ruben Torres in '22, he's a hard punching lightweight trained by Danny Zamora....There is a show this Christmas night on FOX that features prospects Vito Mielnicki Jr. and Joey Spencer from Newark, New Jersey....Speaking of inactive boxers, it was announced by Showtime that WBC featherweight champion, Gary Russell Jr. will take on Mark Magsayo on January 22 at the Borgata in Atlantic City... To put into perspective how long it's been since Russell boxed, it was before the world-wide pandemic shutdowns of 2020....A purse bid has been set for January 15 by the WBO for a bout between their middleweight belt-holder, Demetrius Andrade, and Zhanibek Alimkhanuly, should Matchroom Sports and Top Rank not come to an agreement on that fight....The series finale of 'Insecure' is setting up to be a barn burner... I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org....