ESPN has now fully committed to bringing boxing to the network for the long haul.
ESPN and Top Rank Boxing, whom they have had a working relationship since last year, have reached a deal that would have ESPN carry, not only boxing events from Top Rank, but also boxing cards from all over the world. According to the deal, ESPN will now carry 54 events per year on their family of networks.
The 54 yearly boxing events ESPN will carry has been divided up as follows:
– 18 events on ESPN
– 12 exclusive, prime time events on ESPN+
– 24 premium international events on ESPN+
As with the Top Rank cards on ESPN and ESPN+ prior to the new deal, ESPN+ will now have undercard coverage of all 54 events on the streaming service. The new deal is an upgrade of a four-year deal ESPN has signed with Top Rank just last August.
The working relationship between ESPN and Top Rank began last year after Top Rank CEO Bob Arum ended the company's relationship with HBO. The first Top Rank Boxing card on ESPN in 2017 was the highly-watched WBO welterweight title fight between Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn in July of that year. That fight, which had an average viewership of 3.1 million viewers and a peak of 4.4 million viewers on the live ESPN airing, making it the highest-rated boxing telecast on cable since 2006 and ESPN's highest-rated boxing telecast since 1995.
Since ESPN+ launched in April, the streaming service exclusive to the United States, there have been boxing cards from England and Japan that have also been featured prominently on the service thanks to a partnership with other promotions such as Matchroom Boxing, Queensbury Promotions and Teiken Promotions.