Shakur Stevenson faces Edwin De Los Santos for the vacant WBC lightweight title at the T-Mobile Arena. But did you realize that this fight card, which is being staged by Top Rank, is taking place on Thursday night? (10:30 pm, ET, 7:30 pm, PT).
For the past generation, the large majority of notable fights have been broadcast on Saturday nights.
There was a time when most of this sports marquee events took place on weeknights (yeah, look it up). Is this perhaps an experiment to see if modern day boxing can go back to those evenings?
Bob Arum, the founder of Top Rank told SNAC.com, "We're not playing around with anything. Saturday is Formula 1 in Vegas, and ESPN asked us to the fight Thursday before the race. So it's not a precedent, it's not anything. That's just what it is."
Like other sports, TV pays the money, so they basically set the days and time. But in the olden days, when fights featuring the likes of Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns were on closed-circuit, they were often placed on Monday's (April 15, 1985) as theater owners were reluctant to give up their weekends for boxing.
But with the influence of premium cable networks, boxing more or less became a weekend viewing appointment at the world-class level. Which is interesting since most other sports (save college football) don't look at Saturday night as prime real estate on the TV calendar.
Mikey Williams for Top Rank
"I think there are more (television) sets in use on during the week," said Arum, ''and they did boxing on the weekends because it appealed to the fight fans and so forth. But if you check everything, the best time is during the week."
Then there was the casino influence, as they started to fund many of these events with site fees. But Arum opined, "I don't think they prefer (any particular day) any more because boxing is not as important for them as it used to be."
Yet Arum did note that the properties most likely weren't going to attract customers to a boxing match on say, a Tuesday or Wednesday night, ''other than locals."
But in the era of the 'Four Kings' (Hagler, Hearns, Ray Leonard, Robert Duran), places like Caesars Palace didn't mind having early week get togethers.
"We moved from Monday's to Tuesday's because Monday was 'Monday Night Football', so we moved," recalled Arum. "There, the casinos loved Monday's and Tuesday's because the people for big fights would come in for the weekend and they would stay an extra day because they came in for the fight. So the casino's would have them for an extra day."
What's taking place this week, is really just a programming decision made by the four letter network.
"It has nothing to do with our preferences," admitted Arum. "I mean, our preference is I think you're better off -- because people go out on Saturday, and if you want to sell tickets -- with a weekend."
In terms of the actual match-up, De Los Santos (16-1, 14 KOs) is a loose limbed southpaw with legitimate power.
De Los Santos, who hails from the Dominican Republic (best known for producing a lot more shortstops than boxers) burst onto the scene in September of 2022 when he blasted out the previously undefeated Jose Valenzuela in three rounds. He then handily defeated Joseph Adorno over 10 rounds back in July.
While he's certainly not the marquee name that the precocious Stevenson yearns for like a Devin Haney or Gervonta Davis, he is a solid foe for this occasion. Ironically, he may actually pose more of a threat than Frank Martin, who decided that he was better off not taking this assignment for whatever reason.
Mikey Williams for Top Rank
"We are not here to hesitate. We are here to fight," said De Los Santos. "We accepted the fight, and we are going for it. I think at one point I was being underestimated. But now he has accepted the reality that he is going to have a very tough fight."
This is one of those fights that if Stevenson has a bad night, or just flat out overlooks De Los Santos could get interesting.
“We can’t think about what comes after. I’m not worried about after. We’ve got a job to do Thursday night. I’m coming here to get my belt," Stevenson insisted.
It was announced last week that after a 40 year run with Top Rank, that publicist Lee Samueles, would be going off into retirement.
I can say without hesitation, that Samuels was as nice an individual as you will ever meet in this sport, and a real pro. As an 'internet guy' who came on the beat in the mid-to-late 90's, alongside the likes of Doug Fischer, he was always accommodating and treated us young guys with respect. It's something that I'll never forget. He will be missed greatly.
"He was a terrific P.R. guy, and everybody in the press respected him, and everybody in the company respected him," stated Arum. "He was a straight shooter, and a hard worker."
The co-feature for Thursday night is WBO 130-pound titlist, Emanuel Navarrete-Robson Conceicao....When asked about Raymond Muratalla, Arum said, "Our guys are really off-the-chart with him, how he's developed. What a great talent he is."....Vergil Ortiz, who is slated to return in early January, has reunited with trainer Robert Garcia....Arum says that he is still talking to Golden Boy officials about a possible clash between Teofimo Lopez and Ryan Garcia for the spring of '24....I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.....