About Face



A day after I wrote boxing off as a sport only a mother… could love, no lesser figures than NBC and Al Haymon arrived to save the sport.

The network and promoter announced a March 7 card featuring Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero (32-2-1) and Adrien “The Problem” Broner (29-1, 22 KOs) live, from Vegas, to appear on NBC proper.

Not NBC Sports Net. Not some contrived NBC3 you-pay subscription channel.

The rainbow peacock herself, NBC.

(Collecting my jaw off the ground.)

Broner, considered by many the heir apparent to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in both the remarkable boxer and remarkable heel camps, will fight John Molina in what should be a laugher, and Guerrero will take on interim welterweight champ Keith Thurman in what could be a bloodbath.

It’s not the first time in recent memory that one of the major networks have attempted to bring boxing back to the masses. NBC has flirted with it and CBS actually looked to have some momentum going back in 2012.

These are, however, the most important fights on network TV since at least the late 80s and possibly back to the days when Howard Cosell was narrating the action for ABC. Demographics are moving in the right direction for boxing, though. The sport retains a loyal following in the US Hispanic community—my local bar here in Niners/Giants country fills about as much as it does for either of their playoff games for a big fight—and live sports are a salve to network advertisers smarting from the TiVo effect.

Add to all this rumors—admittedly, we’ve heard them before—that a Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight is close at hand and the breaking news that super middleweight champion Andre Ward has resolved his contractual dispute with his previous promoter and signed with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation sports.

Ward comes back to the ring after two fights in 3 years a more than 14 months of inactivity—but brings with him a lot of cred from insiders. The frightening specter of Gennady “GGG” Golovkin will hang over his every fight until the Son of God gives the God of War a shot in the ring.

I’m giddy. The boxing game is up off the mat with a network showcase, a potential superfight and one of its stars back in the ring.

Fight fans, 2015 might not be a lost cause, after all.