Roberto Guerrero. Keith Thurman. Adrien Broner. John Molina Jr.
All four men will be fighting on the maiden voyage of Premiere Boxing Champions, which will be aired on NBC's flagship channel - in primetime - on Saturday, March 7th.
Guerrero, who has fought (and lost) to the great Floyd Mayweather, is set to fight the violently impressive - and undefeated - welterweight Keith Thurman. Molina, a battle hardened veteran, will be facing the obnoxious, though not without talent, Adrien Broner in a junior welterweight clash.
Needless to say, NBC is doing this right. Boxing has taken a hit in recent decades. A lot of that has to do with the fact that most don't know who the top boxers in the sport actually are these days. By focusing on each of the four men who will be facing off in early March, the peacock network has gone old school with it's Corner to Corner program.
If all goes well, viewers will actually know who these fighters are as individuals before they face off as athletes. Familiarity breeds personal investment, after all. And personal investment breeds huge fan bases. It's smart to keep in mind that Mike Tyson drew eyeballs not only because he was a monster in the ring during those early days, but because people knew about the man himself.
Flitting from one fighter to next, documentary-style, Corner to Corner on Wednesday gave viewers insight into the lives of the contestants as they prepared for their respective fights. Viewers learned, for instance, that Guerrero is one hell of a husband (let's just say he takes the words "in sickness and in health" very seriously). They also learned that Thurman is dedicated to the memory of his former mentor while Molina is a dedicated family man.
And Broner? Well, viewers caught sight of a much more genteel Broner than hard core boxing fans have been used to seeing. Whether or not Broner is a changed man or if he's merely been told to play nice for the camera is irrelevant, really. What's important to NBC, and to adviser Al Haymon, who brought Premiere Boxing Champions into existence, is that an image is being formed.
Needless to say, Corner to Corner is going to have its critics, as, undoubtedly is Premiere Boxing Champions. The thing with Corner to Corner, however, is that it's goal is simple. NBC merely wants you to remember the names and faces. Unlike shows like Showtime's All Access, or HBOs 24/7, Corner to Corner is selling people more than it's selling fights.
That's a fine distinction. And an important one to remember.