Top Rank Boxing's early experiment with ESPN has resulted in two of the most watched boxing matches on cable this year, and the success resulted in a major exclusive broadcasting deal being agreed to.
The network and the promotion company has agreed to a four-year deal that would allow ESPN to broadcast major Top Rank boxing matches.
Burke Magnus, ESPN executive vice president of programming and scheduling, said the deal allows ESPN the chance to showcase Top Rank's best boxers.
"ESPN is thrilled to announce this new relationship with Top Rank, the most comprehensive and innovative media agreement in the history of the sport. We believe in a new vision for boxing that will super-serve existing boxing fans and create legions of new fans through world class boxing content across multiple ESPN platforms - 365 days a year. Together, ESPN and Top Rank will build the superstars of tomorrow through unrivaled exposure, original content and cutting edge technology," Magnus said.
Under the four-year deal, ESPN will televise live Top Rank-promoted fights on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, the network's Spanish language channel, and stream them on the ESPN App. It will also stream fights and other Top Rank content on the recently announced ESPN direct-to-consumer streaming service via BAMTech and deliver pay-per-view events. Top Rank has also produced pay-per-view events in the past, but the deal with ESPN would provide a bigger avenue to hold these pay-per-view events.
There are currently four Top Rank Boxing on ESPN cards being planned for the remainder of 2017:
- September 22: WBO featherweight title match: Oscar Valdez (c) vs. Genesis Servania and Gilberto Ramirez (c) vs. Jessie Hart for the WBO super middleweight title
- October 31: WBO junior featherweight title match: Jessie Magdaleno (c) vs. Cesar Juarez
- November 11: WBO welterweight title match: Jeff Horn (c) vs. Manny Pacquiao (NOT FINALIZED)
- December 9: WBO super featherweight title match: Vasyl Lomachenko (c) vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux (NOT FINALIZED)
Top Rank and ESPN did work together from 1980-1996, but Top Rank then moved their fighters to HBO. The promotion started to cease working with HBO last year partially due to HBO not wanting to air Manny Pacquiao's return from retirement and subsequent WBO welterweight title win over Jessie Vargas last November. Crawford and Lomachenko had their last HBO fights take place back in May and April, respectively.