Fightful Boxing Newsletter (11/15): PBC On FOX 2019 Schedule, Floyd Mayweather/Rizin, Usyk vs. Bellew

Fightful Boxing Newsletter (11/15) Table Of Contents

  1. PBC/FOX 2019 Schedule (Page 1)
  2. Floyd Mayweather/Rizin (Page 2)
  3. Oleksandr Usyk vs. Tony Bellew (Page 3)
  4. Maurice Hooker vs. Alex Saucedo Preview (Page 4)
  5. Matchroom Boxing USA-DAZN Preview (Page 5)

PBC/FOX 2019 Schedule:

Weeks after Premier Boxing Champions and the FOX network signed a multi-year broadcast deal that would give the network a stronger television presence in the American boxing market starting this December, the two parties organized a special event in Los Angeles to unveil the full 2019 schedule.

A number of big stars on PBC’s roster were present, including three welterweight champion (Errol Spence Jr., Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter) and lightweight world champion Mikey Garcia.

A total of 22 fight cards were announced and, barring any changes, here is the PBC schedule on FOX and FOX Sports 1 for 2019.

  1. Sunday, January 13, 2019 at Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live in Los Angeles, FS1: Jose Uzcategui vs. Caleb Plant: IBF super middleweight title
  2. Saturday, January 26, 2019 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, FOX: Keith Thurman vs. Josesito Lopez: WBA “super” welterweight title/Adam Kownacki vs. Gerald Washington
  3. Saturday, February 16, 2019 in Los Angeles, FOX: Leo Santa Cruz vs. Miguel Flores: WBA “super” featherweight title/Omar Figueroa Jr. vs. John Molina Jr.
  4. Saturday, February 23, 2019 at The Armory in Minneapolis, FS1: Anthony Dirrell vs. Avni Yildirim: Vacant WBC super middleweight title
  5. Saturday, March 9, 2019 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, FOX: Shawn Porter vs. Yordenis Ugas: WBC welterweight title
  6. Saturday, March 16, 2019 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, FOX PPV: Errol Spence Jr. vs. Mikey Garcia: IBF welterweight title
  7. Sunday, March 24, 2019 at the MGM National Harbor in Owen Hill, FS1: Lamont Peterson vs. Sergey Lipinets
  8. Saturday, April 13, 2019 at The Armory in Minneapolis, FS1: Caleb Truax vs. Peter Quillin
  9. Saturday, April 20, 2019, FOX: Danny Garcia vs. Adrian Granados
  10. Saturday, May 11, 2019, FOX
  11. Saturday, May 25, 2019, FS1
  12. Saturday, June 1, 2019, FS1
  13. Sunday, June 23, 2019, FOX
  14. Saturday, July 13, 2019, FS1
  15. Saturday, July 20, 2019, FOX
  16. Saturday, August 3, 2019, FOX
  17. Saturday, August 24, 2019, FS1
  18. Sunday, September 1, 2019, FOX
  19. Saturday, September 21, 2019, FS1
  20. Saturday, November 9, 2019, FS1
  21. Saturday, December 14, 2019, FOX
  22. Saturday, December 21, 2019, FS1

The lineup does provide some interesting matchups, such as the one between Garcia and Granados as well as Dirrell vs. Yildirim and Uzcategui vs. Plant. By and large, however, the fights that were announced on November 13 were very uninspiring and disappointing for a multitude of reasons.

The main reason that most people immediately pointed at was the lack of big welterweight fights, despite PBC having the majority of the division’s top stars. Although it is an incredibly painful pill to swallow for fans, the long-term goal for the welterweight division is to have the highly-anticipated fights at the end of the year or in 2020.

For each of those welterweight champions that were present in Los Angeles, an argument can be made for the fights being what they are. Whether or not you accept those arguments is entirely up to the individual.

In Thurman’s case, it would be very foolish to believe the WBA “super” welterweight champion will step into the ring immediately against the likes of Porter and Spence. For about a year, he has been telling the media that his first fight back from elbow surgery would be against relatively weak opposition in order to shake off the ring rust. And even if Thurman wanted to fight the top stars at 147 pounds immediately, some may not want to fight him on the basis that a victory over Thurman nearly two years removed from the sport will be a valid victory to put under their resume, as Porter told me back in August when I entertained the idea of a possible unification fight against him should Porter win the WBC title, which he eventually did.

Speaking of Porter, for weeks he has been saying that he will have to take care of mandatory challengers first before accepting any of the big fights. Although it is true that the WBC has technically an abundance of mandatory challengers, the governing body wasn’t in any hurry to enforce those fights if Porter got a big-enough fight, such as against Spence. Regardless, Porter will take care of an immediate mandatory challenge which will only help make those big fights easier down the road.

As for Spence, well, the announcement of his pay-per-view fight against Mikey Garcia should not come as a surprise at all. After all, Garcia had been clamoring for a fight against Spence immediately after beating Robert Easter Jr. in Los Angeles back in July. Spence was always dead set on facing off against Mikey even after that impromptu face-off with Porter back in September. If anything, FOX’s long-term hope is to have the winner of Spence-Mikey fight either Porter or Thurman in a superfight at 147 pounds. While that future fight could land on pay-per-view, it’s possible that this could land on FOX, as it would likely fetch a massive rating for a boxing telecast if one were to go off of the viewership for Thurman’s 2017 win against Danny Garcia, which aired on CBS at a point in the year when there was no baseball, football and the NBA playoffs not starting yet.

Even taking the lack of any compelling welterweight title fights in the first few months of 2019 out of the criticism being pointed towards PBC, the second-biggest question mark is Leo Santa Cruz. For months, Showtime and PBC have been teasing a unification fight between him and WBC champion Gary Russell Jr. The two would interact with one another on telecasts and even when one appeared by himself on television, the key point in those interviews is a fight with the other champion.

The WBC even created a bogus Diamond title (originally reserved for “special” fights, but now are handing them off to several fights throughout the various divisions) for Santa Cruz’s rematch against Abner Mares earlier this year. Santa Cruz won the fight and the WBC Diamond title, which meant the WBC technically had the authority to order Santa Cruz and Russell to fight each other. In fact, the WBC did just that at the recent WBC Convention, but for some reason, the fight never materialized.

Given how Russell really only fights about once a year now, if he does not fight Santa Cruz next in 2019, we would then have to wait until 2020 at the earliest for that fight to happen, if it were to ever happen. Not only that, PBC provided a massive mismatch on paper in favor of Santa Cruz. To illustrate how much of a mismatch this fight is on paper, Santa Cruz is ranked as the No. 1 featherweight on Boxrec’s rankings while Flores is ranked No. 136. Even in the WBC rankings, Flores is ranked No. 15, the lowest possible spot for a fighter and still be eligible to challenge for a world title outright.

There’s also a number of notable PBC fighters that were absent from the event: WBA “super” super featherweight champion Gervonta Davis, two-division champion Badou Jack, former WBA junior middleweight champion Erislandy Lara, and Russell among others. If one were to guess, it’s very likely that most, if not all of those boxers will find themselves fighting on Showtime, which still has a broadcast deal with PBC and the network is looking to continue building on the strong momentum generated from the past two years.

While most will criticize PBC and FOX for uninteresting matchups for 2019 thus far, there is one aspect of the schedule being announced that not many are talking about at all and that is the start time for these telecasts. Aside from the February 23 and April 13 broadcasts, all FOX and FS1 televised cards will start at 8 p.m. ET, which is incredible news. In an era where boxing viewers are used to watching boxing cards start from 9-11 p.m. ET, starting at 8 p.m. ET is an idea that should be universally praised. Even with a two-hour undercard, the main event starting at 10 p.m. ET will help retain a good chunk of the viewership who started watching and only provide better ratings.

From the looks of it, FOX may have learned from its time broadcast UFC cards and that having main events start close to midnight ET is never a smart idea, especially when you’re trying to get the biggest possible primetime audience. Putting all of this, plus the added advertisement from FOX, will pretty much guarantee that it will have the biggest ratings in the U.S. on a far more consistent basis.

FOX is clearly testing the waters with this initial lineup to see what their base audience numbers are going to be and depending on those early ratings, we may or may not see the network push for the welterweight and featherweight unifications, as well as other big, attractive fights, sooner rather or later.

One thing is for certain. Boxing has returned to network television and if PBC plays their cards right this time around, it could help re-popularize boxing in front of a new, national audience.

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