With women's boxing on the rise, promoter Tom Loeffler sees the potential of HBO broadcasting its first ever live women's boxing match on May 5 being the catalyst for something big.
Undisputed women's welterweight boxing champion Cecilia Braekhus will be defending her unified titles against Kali Reis in the co-main event fight of Gennady Golovkin's unified middleweight title defense against Vanes Martirosyan on May 5 at the StubHub Center. It would be the first time in HBO's long history with the sport of boxing that it airs a live women's match.
In a conference call, Loeffler said Braekhus' historic opportunity came when Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez would not be able to fight on the May 5 event. Loeffler explains Braekhus' popularity in her native country of Norway and that the timing worked out to have Braekhus fight on the undercard.
"It's great not just for Cecilia but for women's boxing. That misfortune for Chocolatito actually opened up the door for Cecilia Braekhus. She was always going to be on the show. She was originally supposed to be on the undercard with the pay-per-view up in Las Vegas and it really fit better for the timeslot because her primary revenue comes from the Norwegian TV. She sells out 10,000-seat arenas in Norway. She has huge TV ratings over there. She's the only undisputed champion in the sport of boxing and I always say she is the only boxer in boxing that has one more belt than GGG has," Loeffler said.
Loeffler believes there are some parallels between HBO and its relationship with women's boxing and the UFC and its relationship with women's mixed martial arts. At one point, it seemed unlikely that women would compete in the UFC, but once it allowed women to fight, one particular fighter, Ronda Rousey, became a global superstar.
With HBO and Cecilia Braekhus, Loeffler sees that same potential and this first fight could be the first of many more women's bouts on the network. It's also interesting to note that Martirosyan's coach is Edmond Tarverdyan, who also trains Rousey, currently a wrestler for WWE and a former UFC champion.
"It's ironic that Edmond is training Vanes because the UFC told Ronda Rousey that there's never going to be female competition, female bouts in the UFC. Then Dana White allowed Ronda into the Octagon and then she famously became the UFC's biggest star. I really think Cecilia has that personality. she's undefeated, she's undisputed and she's fighting a very tough opponent in Kali Reis. Kali Reis is a former middleweight champion. She's coming down from middleweight all the way down to welterweight to challenge Cecilia for all of her belts. This is such a big stage for her being on the GGG show that it opened up a tremendous amount of publicity for Cecilia over here in the United States and break down the doors for women's boxing to be on HBO," Loeffler said.
HBO's main television boxing competitor Showtime has been airing women's boxing matches for some time. The network is all in on making current unified super middleweight champion Claressa Shields into the sport's top women's star, announcing that her next fight on June 22 will headline a boxing card on Showtime.
Fightful will have live coverage of Braekhus' 22nd consecutive world title defense as well as Golovkin's bout against Martirosyan.