Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Why The PBC Is Good - And Bad - For Boxing

It's good to have boxing back on network television

First, off, let's not get out of control. Premiere Boxing Champions is not a disaster. Nor is it something to cynically roll our collective eyes at. In fact, the ratings for PBC have been quite sound. What's more, the entire affair has shaken up the boxing world a bit. That's quite a feat in this extremely eventful 2015. On the other hand there are indeed things about PBC which are to be feared or at least looked at warily. Let's start off, though, with the good stuff.

Let's face it, the fact that boxing is back on mainstream American television is a big, big thing. By mainstream, by the way, I mean major network broadcasts. NBC, CBS, ESPN (as opposed to ESPN2), these are enormous, high end channels, and boxing is now appearing on these channels - sometimes in primetime. That's about as big a story you can get this side of Mayweather-Pacquiao.

What's more, PBC has been showing some good fights, No, they haven't all be great, but people need to give it a rest. PBC is aired on what seems like a thousand different channels. Not everything warrants a party at the house. The big fights, however, have been pretty big. Matchups like Thurman-Guerrero, Garcia-Peterson and Porter-Broner are far better than a lot of the stuff HBO and Showtime has aired over the past several years. So let's appreciate what we have here.

Still, there's something ominous about PBC. That's just hard to deny, It seems to be a kind of modern day PacMan, a multi-network program that eats up time slot after time slot across the television spectrum. Behind the scenes guru Al Haymon seems to perhaps be making not so much a monopoly here, as he is the only notable show in town. In other words, boxers who aren't with Haymon and/or PBC might actually be considered second rate if things keep going like they are.

When you consider the fact that Manny Pacquiao, Wladimir Klitschko, Miguel Cotto, Terrence Crawford and others aren't a part of Haymon's lineup you can argue that such an outlook would be faulty at best, harmful to the sport, at worst. Haymon fighters, for instance, sometimes have reputations of being protected. Leo Santa Cruz, Adonis Stevenson, Danny Garcia, and now Carl Frampton may well stand accused these days of  taking the easy way out, career wise.

Do boxing fans really want most or all top fights to be tune ups for major fighters? This boxing fan doesn't. And that's another reason why PBC is as worthy of a curled brow as it is thunderous applause.

Is there more to like than not about Premiere Boxing Champions? Of course. PBC's seeming lack of interest in things like title belts and weight limits, however, should send out a few warning signals to people. Here, such things seem to say, is a new way of doing things, a way unconcerned with the old order. That, boxing fans, is a bold philosophy..but it's an unsettling one, as well.

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