Premier Boxing Champions aired another attempt at putting boxing back in the mainstream Saturday night with the NBC telecast of Shawn Porter vs. Adrien Broner.
This was my first time to watch, and I admittedly missed out on the undercard bout, which was a second round TKO of Phil Lo Greco at the hands of Errol Spence, Jr.
I wish I could have caught that because the Porter-Brody debacle was one of the messiest, ugliest fights I’ve ever seen, and it highlighted a key issue with any good faith effort to bring boxing back to prominence.
The fighters actually have to show up.
I know it isn’t the fault of Premier Boxing Champions when a seemingly talented fighter decides he doesn’t want to exchange and spends the whole fight setting his opponent up for a pile-driver, but that’s what happened.
Shawn Porter won nine of 12 rounds on clean aggression. He came ready to throw punches and chased Adrien Broner around the ring. In spite of landing several clean shots, Porter never could get the momentum going to finish him.
That’s because Broner would grab the back of his head and push down any time it looked like he might have to exchange. At one point, Porter, in an effort to wriggle free of Broner’s grasp, actually spun around his opponent and the two fighters were facing wind.
At this point (round 7), Broner actually threw a punch straight up into the air. No idea what he thought he would hit, but it was a perfect illustration of what a mess the fight was.
In the end, Porter got a rightly deserved unanimous decision, and I lamented the 50 minutes of my life I’d just wasted.
I don’t blame NBC for this, and I don’t blame the promoters behind Premier Boxing Champions. They have excellent production values. It seems like they’ve coached the fighters to show some personality and to emit fire when they answer the bell.
They’ve also gone after match-ups that look good on paper. But boxing still has a “boring” problem that it has to overcome, and frankly I’m not sure PBC can do it alone.
After all, they’re giving away fights for free instead of pay-per-view. None of these guys are going to be making $200 million or whatever Floyd Mayweather, Jr., took for the Manny Pacquiao snooze-fest, but that’s not a problem that has hurt the NFL.
The NFL has been giving it away for free for years, and for all the league’s problems, it manages to take care of its talent financially.
However, it may be difficult getting boxers chasing the allure of a Mayweather-Pacquiao payday to ditch the lottery of pay-per-view altogether.
Boxing used to be so noble and fun to watch, and it could be again. Premier Boxing Champions is a first step, but it still has a long way to go to change a failing system. I hope it gets there.
[Image via Boxing Junkie]