Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) is a television boxing series organized by Haymon Boxing. The television series seeks primarily to bring renewed mainstream exposure to professional boxing, emphasizing a modern "concert"-like atmosphere, "high-quality" cards, television broadcasts through major networks and cable channels as opposed to pay television and pay-per-view events, and the use of technology to provide enhanced insight to the bouts.
The first Premier Boxing Champions card was broadcast by NBC on March 7, 2015. The promotion has reached deals with an array of broadcasters, with cards scheduled across all four of the United States' major television networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC) and their affiliated sports-oriented cable networks (ESPN, CBS Sports Network, FS1, and NBCSN, respectively) as well as Spike and Bounce TV.
Premier Boxing Champions has proven controversial from a business perspective; both Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank filed lawsuits against Haymon and the investors of PBC, arguing that through PBC and other internal intricacies, Haymon was serving as both a manager and promoter—actions which are forbidden under the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act. Additionally, the two promoters claimed violations of antitrust law, with Top Rank in particular claiming that Haymon was trying to effectively monopolize professional boxing in the United States by consolidating boxers, venue bookings, the events themselves, and broadcast rights under his ownership. Top Rank settled its suit in May 2016.
|Premier Boxing Champions|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Production company(s)||Premier Boxing Champions|
|Original network||English: |
Fox Sports (USA)
Sky Sports (UK)
Fox Deportes (USA)
Fox Premium (Latin America)
Fox Sports (Latin America)
Azteca 7 (Mexico)
Premier Boxing Champions is part of an effort by Al Haymon—best known as the representative of Floyd Mayweather, Jr.—to bring mainstream prominence back to the sport of boxing. In the United States, although popular among a niche audience, most major boxing events are relegated to premium television channels such as HBO and Showtime, or pay-per-view, limiting their mainstream exposure to those who are willing to pay. The growing popularity of mixed martial arts has also affected the popularity of boxing within the young adult demographic; the UFC's former broadcast rights contract with Fox Sports allowed some of its cards to air on the main Fox network—which proved successful in terms of overall viewership. In a survey conducted by Haymon, only 2% of the 35% of viewers who identified themselves as fans of boxing had watched it. Now that the UFC is on ESPN, more cards air live on the main channel.
PBC's chief operations officer Ryan Caldwell acknowledged that when broadly distributed, major sporting events can attract a large number of live viewers as event television, and in turn, advertisers: he explained that they were "whacking our key demographic with a lot of fees on premium cable and pay-per-view. Broader distribution is key. When you look across other sports, there's a reason they aren't pay-per-view distributed." Caldwell also noted the success of WWE Network, which similarly subverted the professional wrestling promotion's traditionally PPV-oriented business model by offering its premium events and other archive programs as part of an over-the-top subscription service. PBC's vice president of operations Lamont Jones explained that the goal of the promotion was to build loyalty, believing that "the [same] way the customer goes to the grocery store and sees USDA on the steak and wants to buy it, we want the boxing fan to see to PBC on the telecast and know they can expect high-quality, competitive match-ups."
PBC is distinguished from other boxing productions by its overall presentation and atmosphere; executive producer Michael Marto felt that the in-arena experience of boxing events had been compromised by the focus on their television broadcasts, leading to a lack of "entertainment" for those attending in person. As such, the environment of PBC events is designed to improve the experience for both in-arena and television audiences. PBC events feature a concert-style stage setup known as the "Ring of Honor"; inspired by the Colosseum and the stage setup of U2's 360° Tour, its centerpiece is a Jumbotron-like rig above the ring with an ultra high definition scoreboard screen and a circular marquee display. The screens can be used as a scoreboard, and to play instant replays and other features. At the end of the arena is the "Wall of Thunder", which features a stairway and ramps that fighters use to enter the arena on their way towards the ring. The wall consists of two displays at 18 feet (5.5 m) in height, which flank a central display that is 32 feet (9.8 m) in height. There are three different variations of the stage components, which are optimized for different venue sizes. Film composer Hans Zimmer was commissioned to create theme and soundtrack music for the events.
New technologies were also developed for use during PBC events to provide improved insight and second screen experiences to viewers; Aqueti developed camera technology for use during the events, such as a headband-mounted camera for the referee, "Round-a-Bout"—a circular frame with 36 cameras that can be used to provide a 360-degree view of the ring below and "bullet time" effects, and 250-megapixel "microcameras" consisting of multiple digital camera processors linked together. Gloves and shorts are equipped with sensors for measuring the force of punches and other medical data respectively.
As opposed to most major boxing events, Haymon sought carriage for the Premier Boxing Champions cards on mainstream cable networks, and on the United States' major television networks. Haymon reached multi-year deals with NBC Sports (NBC and NBCSN), Viacom (Spike), CBS Sports (CBS, CBS Sports Network) and Bounce TV to air PBC cards through their outlets on either weekend afternoons or in prime time; rather than having the broadcasters pay the promotion a rights fee, the telecasts are brokered by Haymon to the networks in exchange for a cut of advertising revenue. Prior to these deals, boxing telecasts on the major networks in recent years had been limited to occasional one-off broadcasts, such as a broadcast by CBS in December 2012 in conjunction with sister premium network Showtime.
PBC cards on Spike were first broadcast as part of the network's combat sports brand Friday Night Lights Out. Antonio Tarver, who serves as a member of Spike's broadcast team, explained that "I remember back in the day when fighters started their careers on NBC. Network TV. That's how legendary stars were made. I think NBC and Spike are going to do the same for today's fighters."
Under its contract with NBC, Haymon pays the broadcaster $20 million per year; NBC Sports' first 20 Premier Boxing Champions events include nine prime time cards on NBCSN, and five prime time cards on the NBC network—marking the first time in thirty years that NBC had broadcast a boxing event in prime time. The first PBC card aired on March 7, 2015 on NBC, and featured Keith Thurman in a welterweight bout against Robert Guerrero, and Adrien Broner against John Molina in a junior welterweight bout. Al Michaels served as the host, joined by Marv Albert and Sugar Ray Leonard as commentators. Viewership of the premiere broadcast peaked at 4.2 million viewers; NBC claimed that it was the most-watched professional boxing telecast since Fox's March 1998 Oscar De La Hoya's Fight Night (which reached 5.9 million viewers).
On March 19, 2015, ESPN announced a two-year deal with Premier Boxing Champions, in which the network will air 12 cards per year, with eleven prime time cards on ESPN and in Spanish on ESPN Deportes (airing under its Noche de Combates brand), and an afternoon event on ABC. ESPN's inaugural telecast aired on July 11, 2015. Concurrently, ESPN announced that after a seventeen-year run, it would end ESPN2's boxing series Friday Night Fights; its on-air staff of Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas were carried over to ESPN's PBC telecasts. On August 4, 2015, Fox Sports 1 announced that it would air 21 PBC cards on Tuesday nights (Toe-to-Toe Tuesdays) on the network from September 8, 2015 through June 2016. The telecasts are also simulcast in Spanish by Fox Deportes. The announcement came following the end of a contract between Fox Sports and Golden Boy Promotions.
On January 20, 2016, the PBC broadcast featuring headliners Danny “Swift” García and Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero was the first to be broadcast live in virtual reality by Fox Sports and NextVR.
On June 25, 2016, CBS broadcast its first primetime PBC card, featuring a WBA welterweight championship fight between Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter (won by unanimous decision by Thurman to retain his title), which marked the first boxing event broadcast by CBS in primetime since 1978. The telecast was produced by Showtime as a special edition of its Showtime Championship Boxing franchise.
In 2017, PBC ended their broadcasting deals with NBC, ESPN and Spike, while continuing with Showtime and Fox.
In January 2018, Premier Boxing Champions announced that Showtime would air 10 championship events in the first half of 2018.
In the end of 2018, ITV and PBC sign landmark partnership for UK viewers. As part of the three-year agreement, at least 15 events will be televised on pay-per-view channel ITV Box Office with some being shown on ITV's free-to-air channels, starting in 2019.. The first fight of the new deal was the vacant IBF Super Middleweight title, between the Venezuelan Jose Uzcategui and American Caleb Plant in January 14th 2019 (UK time), which was broadcast live and free on ITV4. ITV4 took the feed and commentary from host broadcaster Fox Sports (United States) and Ronald McIntosh provided voiceovers for UK viewers when the host broadcaster was on commercial breaks. In January 20th, ITV4 also broadcast another fight in USA, between the Filipino's eight-division world champion, its the defending WBA world champion Manny Pacquiao and America's four-division world champion, its the WBA number 6 rank Adrien Broner, for the Welterweight title. Same as the first fight, ITV4 also took the feed and commentary from another host broadcaster, its USA pay-per-view channel Showtime but the fight was broadcast free for UK viewers. In February 23rd, ITV will broadcast the first home fight (in UK) between the both British James Degale and Chris Eubank Jr for the vacant IBO Super Middleweight title, its broadcast on ITV Box Office.
As of March 2017, the highest PBC audiences have been Errol Spence Jr. vs Leonard Bundu (NBC, 2016, 4.8 million), Keith Thurman vs Robert Guerrero (NBC, 2015, 3.4 million), and Keith Thurman vs Danny García (CBS, 2017, 3.1 million), all of them at welterweight division.
|2016||Errol Spence Jr. vs Leonard Bundu||NBC||4.8M||Welterweight|
|2015||Keith Thurman vs Robert Guerrero||NBC||3.4M||Welterweight|
|2017||Keith Thurman vs Danny García||CBS||3.1M||Welterweight|
In its review of the inaugural Premier Boxing Champions event on NBC, Bad Left Hook praised the event's on-air production style for feeling more like a "modern", "true mainstream sports show" than the boxing events of HBO and Showtime, along with the performance of Al Michaels, Steve Smoger, and BJ Flores. The performance of Marv Albert was panned, noting that he "[missed] a lot of the action", along with Steve Farhood's lack of contributions beyond scoring the fights. Hans Zimmer's soundtrack was also criticized for being "generic" and "[robbing] fighters of their own personalities." Bleacher Report was similarly mixed, describing the atmosphere as being too "sterile" for a sport that "thrives on chaos", and that "the bland short walks to the ring and generic music presenting the fighters as interchangeable automatons [are] more NFL than WWE". NBC's on-air talent also received mixed reviews, especially the poor performance of Albert, explaining that "Albert, who hasn't called boxing since 1985, sounded like a guy who hadn't called boxing in 30 years. He had a hard time keeping up with the action, eventually giving up on play-by-play and occasionally adding a booming 'Yes!' whenever a particularly telling blow landed."
On May 6, 2015, Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions filed a $300 million lawsuit against Al Haymon and the financiers of Premier Boxing Champions, alleging a violation of antitrust laws and the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act. Golden Boy alleged that Haymon had violated the act's requirement that managers not serve as promoters, stating that he had "forbidden hundreds of boxers he manages to sign with any other promoter; and he has acted to cut off legitimate promoters not only from promoting boxers he manages, but also from essential network television of boxing matches and from the quality arenas necessary for the effective presentation of their bouts. His illegal conduct, designed to eliminate all competition, also constitutes an 'unlawful ... business act or practice' constituting 'unfair competition' under California Business and Professions Code."
On July 1, 2015, Top Rank filed a similar lawsuit against Haymon and Premier Boxing Champions investor Waddell & Reed, seeking an injunction to cease the events and $100 million in damages. Top Rank alleged violations of the Ali act and antitrust laws, arguing that Haymon was attempting to monopolize boxing through internal practices such as using "sham" promoters that are ultimately connected to Haymon, attempting to prevent major venues from being booked by competing promoters by reserving them for a different event, but cancelling and moving the event elsewhere after a competing event is forced to re-locate, and entering into exclusivity agreements with broadcasters through Premier Boxing Champions to prevent them from broadcasting competing events. Top Rank alleged that "with the financial backing, complicity, and material assistance of Waddell & Reed and other financiers, Haymon is rigging the boxing industry so they can act as manager, promoter, sponsor, and ticket broker for nearly every major professional boxer competing in the United States". An attorney representing Haymon denied the lawsuit, claiming it was "entirely without merit and is a cynical attempt by boxing’s old guard to use the courts to undermine the accessibility, credibility and exposure of boxing that the sport so desperately needs."
The Top Rank lawsuit was dismissed in October 2015, with the court ruling that the promoter had failed to provide specific examples of the conduct that it had alleged, nor evidence that the alleged actions harmed Top Rank, but in the decision federal judge John F. Walter allowed Top Rank to file an amended complaint after removing Premier Boxing Champion financier Waddell and Reed, which Top Rank did. After receiving the amended complaint, Judge Walter allowed the case to continue and ruled against Haymon's motion to dismiss on January 6, 2016. Top Rank and Haymon agreed to a settlement in May 2016; it was reported that the settlement also contained an option to explore the possibility of a Mayweather/Pacquiao rematch, although this was not confirmed.
In January 2017, the Golden Boy lawsuit was dismissed, with the court ruling that the promoter had "failed to demonstrate that there is a genuine issue of material fact as to any of their federal claims for relief".
Since its inception, Premier Boxing Champions has given out end-of-year awards for various categories:
CBS has occasionally broadcast boxing events; its first broadcast occurred in 1948. The network's most recent broadcasts of the sport have fallen under Al Haymon's Premier Boxing Champions banner, and its most recent primetime broadcasts have been produced by sister pay television channel Showtime.Boxing on ESPN
The cable television network ESPN has occasionally broadcast boxing events over the majority of its history, as part of several arrangements, including contracts with specific promotions and consortiums such as Golden Boy Promotions, Premier Boxing Champions, and Top Rank, as well as Friday Night Fights—a semi-regular series that was broadcast by ESPN and ESPN2 from 1998 through 2015.Boxing on NBC
Boxing on NBC is the de facto title for NBC Sports' boxing television coverage.Danny García
Danny Óscar García (born March 20, 1988) is an American professional boxer. He has held multiple world championships in two weight classes, including the unified WBA (Super), WBC, Ring magazine and lineal light welterweight titles between 2012 and 2015, and the WBC welterweight title from 2016 to 2017.Deontay Wilder
Deontay Leshun Wilder (born October 22, 1985) is an American professional boxer. He has held the WBC heavyweight title since 2015, and in doing so became the first American world heavyweight champion in nine years, which was the longest period of time in boxing history without an American heavyweight champion. As an amateur he won a bronze medal in the heavyweight division at the 2008 Olympics. This led to his nickname of "The Bronze Bomber", which Wilder coined after Joe Louis, who was known by the nickname of "The Brown Bomber".
Wilder is particularly known for his formidable punching power, having finished all but two of his fights inside the distance. His knockout-to-win ratio stands at 97.5%, with 20 knockouts in the first round. He is a two-time winner of the Premier Boxing Champions Knockout of the Year award, in 2016 and 2017.
As of May 2019, Wilder is ranked as the world's second best active heavyweight by BoxRec, and third by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board and The Ring magazine.Edwin Rodríguez (boxer)
Edwin Rodríguez (born May 5, 1985) is a Dominican professional boxer who lives in Worcester, Massachusetts.Errol Spence Jr.
Errol Spence Jr. (born March 3, 1990) is an American professional boxer who has held the IBF welterweight title since 2017. As an amateur in the welterweight division, he won three consecutive United States national championships and represented the U.S. at the 2012 Olympics, where he reached the quarter-finals. In 2015, Spence was named Prospect of the Year by ESPN.As of March 2019, Spence is ranked as the world's fifth best active boxer, pound for pound, by The Ring magazine and BoxRec. He is also ranked as the world's best active welterweight by The Ring and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and second by BoxRec.Fox Deportes
Fox Deportes (formerly Fox Sports en Español) is an American pay television network dedicated to broadcasting sports-related programming in Spanish, aimed at the Hispanic population in the United States. Launched in 1996, Fox Deportes, a division of Fox Sports, is the first and longest-running Spanish-language sports network in the country.
Fox Deportes features a diversified programming, including NFL pre and post-season games, MLB regular-season, All-Star Game, Divisional Series, National League Championship Series and World Series, the USGA's U.S. Open, NASCAR, Premier Boxing Champions, college football and soccer competitions including Liga MX, MLS, and Bundesliga.
The channel first launched as Fox Sports Americas in 1996, before transitioning to Fox Sports World en Español in 1997. In 2002, the network was relaunched as Fox Sports en Español before becoming Fox Deportes in 2010.As of February 2015, approximately 21,831,000 American households (18.8% of households with television) received Fox Deportes.George X
Jorge Bribiesca Ayala (born January 23, 1974), better known as George X (pronounced as the letter "X" and not "ten") (born January 23, 1974) is a Mexican television show host specialized in action sports and Mixed Martial Arts. George X is the Spanish-language announcer of the X Games for ESPN Deportes and play-by-play commentator for the Mixed martial arts promotion company Bellator Fighting Championships. While working for Televisa in 2001, George X gained national notoriety in Mexico as he covered Super Bowl XXXV dressed as an American football player. In 2004 George X hosted the controversial Fear Factor-like series Gana la Verde for Liberman Broadcasting in Los Angeles, where winning contestants were promised legal representation to get a Green Card. In addition, George X hosted 3 seasons of the award winning show Reto Final Nissan for Fox Deportes, where he had to reunite international soccer stars and get them to play a televised rematch.ITV Box Office
ITV Box Office is a pay-per-view channel from ITV plc launched in February 2017. The channel is available in HD-only on Sky, and events are also available on demand only on Virgin Media and TVPlayer.Jimmy Lennon Jr.
Jimmy Lennon Jr. (born August 5, 1958) is an American boxing ring announcer who is employed primarily by Showtime and Fox Sports as ring announcer for their Showtime Championship Boxing and Premier Boxing Champions, also by Bob Arum's Top Rank on ESPN events. Lennon was also employed by Fox Sports when it previously had rights to professional boxing and was the ring announcer for Don King Promotions' fights that aired on various networks (including HBO, although King has largely promoted fights for Showtime since 1991). He is best known for his catchphrase, "It's show time!" but the catchphrase is not spoken during Fox's fight coverage.Jimmy Smith (fighter)
James Smith (born September 2, 1977) is an American mixed martial arts commentator and a former mixed martial arts fighter. He was the co-host of the television show Fight Quest, with Doug Anderson, on the Discovery Channel. He is also a former commentator for Bellator, UFC and Premier Boxing Champions. He is as a former host for American Ninja Warrior in 2010-2011.Kate Abdo
Kate Abdo (born 8 September 1981) is a Sports Broadcaster who throughout her career has worked internationally in the UK, Spain, France, Germany and the USA . She currently hosts Premier Boxing Champions and World Cup coverage Fox Sports and Champions league soccer for Turner.Keith Thurman
Keith Thurman Jr. (born November 23, 1988) is an American professional boxer. He is a former unified welterweight world champion, having held the WBA title since 2015 (promoted to Super champion in 2017), and previously the WBC title from 2017 to 2018. Nicknamed "One Time" for his formidable knockout power, Thurman is considered one of the hardest punchers in the welterweight division.Paramount Network
Paramount Network is an American pay television channel owned by the Viacom Media Networks division of Viacom.
The channel was originally founded by a partnership between radio station WSM and Westinghouse Broadcasting as The Nashville Network (TNN) and began broadcasting March 7, 1983. It initially featured programming catering towards the culture of the Southern United States, including country music, variety shows, outdoors programming, and motor racing coverage (such as NASCAR). TNN was purchased by the Gaylord Entertainment Company in 1983. After Gaylord bought CMT in 1991, TNN's music programming was shifted to CMT, leaving TNN to focus on entertainment and lifestyle programming. In 1995, TNN and CMT were acquired by Westinghouse, which was in turn acquired by Viacom in 1999.
Under Viacom ownership, TNN began phasing out its existing, country-influenced programming, in favor of more off-network series, films, and sports entertainment programming targeted to a wider audience. It was renamed The National Network in September 2000, coinciding with the premiere of WWF Raw on the channel. At this point, Viacom described TNN as being a general entertainment service, albeit one appealing to Middle America. In August 2003, TNN relaunched as Spike TV, which targeted a young adult male audience. In June 2006, Spike rebranded with a more explicit focus on the action genre. In 2010, Spike began to shift its programming towards a wider demographic reach with an increased focus on reality series. This culminated with a final rebrand in 2015 to emphasize gender-balanced series such as Lip Sync Battle and a return to original scripted programming.
On January 18, 2018, Spike relaunched as Paramount Network and relocated its headquarters to the Paramount Pictures studio lot in Los Angeles, California, aiming to align it with its namesake film studio (which previously lent its name to a proposed re-branding of the now-defunct broadcast television network UPN). The network has been positioned by Viacom as a general "flagship" outlet for original scripted series, competing with other "premium" basic-tier subscription networks such as AMC and FX. As of February 2015 (when it was still known as Spike), approximately 93.4 million households in the United States (80% of those with television) receive Paramount Network.Peter Quillin
Peter Quillin (born June 22, 1983) is an American professional boxer who held the WBO middleweight title from 2012 to 2014.Roberto García (Mexican boxer)
Roberto García (born March 26, 1980) is a Mexican professional boxer.Shawn Porter
Shawn Christian Porter (born October 27, 1987) is an American professional boxer. He is a two-time welterweight world champion, having held the WBC title since 2018, and previously the IBF title from 2013 to 2014. As of September 2018, Porter is ranked as the world's fourth best active welterweight by The Ring magazine, the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and BoxRec. He is particularly known for his aggressive pressure fighting style, physical strength and high workrate.Showtime Championship Boxing
Showtime Championship Boxing is a television boxing program airing on Showtime. Debuting in March 1986, it is broadcast live on the first Saturday of every month. Showtime Championship Boxing, which is very similar to HBO World Championship Boxing, features Mauro Ranallo on play-by-play, Al Bernstein as the color analyst, Jimmy Lennon (Sr. and Jr.) as ring announcers, and Jim Gray as reporter.
A sister program, ShoBox: The New Generation, occasionally airs on Friday nights; these broadcasts feature fights between boxing prospects.
|Defunct or sold|