Following up on my 1st Quarter 2021 Boxing Progress Report, which can be read here Boxing the year so far: 1st Quarter Progress Report
This article is pure fights no politics, not focused on pay-per-view compared to free television/basic cable or paid streaming/premium channel. In the first quarter of the year, DAZN got off to a great start, especially in the month of March, which is usually mediocre because of the NCAA Basketball tournament. The June lineup is nowhere near as good as April and especially May, but there are a few main events and undercard bouts that should produce plenty of action and competitiveness. This article will focus on the Big-4 boxing outlets in America.
Let’s begin with FOX because not a whole lot has changed for them as far as quality fights on the network. In fact, we’re still waiting to hear what’s up with the FS1 cards. To date, they’ve to schedule only 1, not counting prelims. Without going into detail (as I did a few months ago here) it’s no secret that every since the pandemic hit, the product on FOX and FS1 has been subpar, to say the least. In May, one of their FOX primetime was used as a prelim featuring Erislandy Lara and the other to their credit much better than expected, seeing Vito Mielnicki upset by James Martin in the opener and a super close fight between Tony Harrison and Bryant Perralla. Cris Arreola gave Andy Ruiz a stern test along with some fun-action on the undercard. In June, the PBC on FOX has a quality prospect-driven card at the Armory in Minneapolis and, of course, Manny Pacquiao vs. Errol Spence, but that’s not until August. Technically, FOX and the PBC have half of the Wilder/Fury Trilogy as well. Time will tell if FOX can rebound and give fans better stuff on a consistent basis for the flagship network and FS1.
DAZN had a major outdoor stadium fight between Canelo Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders in May. The first 8 rounds between Devin Haney and Jorge Linares were clearly one-sided, but down the stretch, Linares hurt Haney. Shannon Courtenay vs. Ebanie Bridges was a good back and forth action bout. Joseph Parker won via split-decision over Derek Chisora, and Andrade vs. Liam Williams had some moments as the fight wore on. Overall, DAZN didn’t perform as well as they had in the 1st quarter but let’s see what they have in store for the 3rd quarter. On paper in July, Ramirez vs. Barrera and Diaz Jr. vs. Fortuna will no doubt be an action-packed doubleheader.
ESPN’s standout matchup was, of course, Josh Taylor defeating Jose Ramirez, scoring two knockdowns on his way to becoming the undisputed junior welterweight champion. Joe Smith Jr. managed to sneak by Maxim Vlasov in a bout that some boxing fans are screaming for a rematch. Their best overall card was headlined by Navarette vs. Diaz. Edgar Berlanga went the full 8-round distance against Demon Nicholson, and Jamaine Ortiz vs. Joseph Adorno fought to draw in a very fun scrap. In June, ESPN has 3 cards in a row involving Shakur Stevenson this Saturday, Naoya Inoue, and Vasiliy Lomachenko returning from his loss to Teofimo Lopez to take on Masayoshi Nakatani. Undercard bouts such as Adam Lopez vs. Isaac Dogboue and Jose Pedraza vs. Julian Rodriguez will likely turn out more drama-filled than the main events.
Closing out the 2nd quarter progress report is the super-strong return to the top as far as 2021 fights on the current schedule. When Showtime releases a bunch of matchups from May to September, it is lit boxing twitter on fire. In April, Ennis/Lipinets was a good tester for ‘Boots,’ as was Stanionis vs. Dulorme, and Ancajas vs. Rodriguez is one of the best fights in 2021. In May, the PBC on Showtime kept the ball rolling with Brandon Figueroa’s KO of Luis Nery, a brilliant outing for Daniel Roman, and a nip and tuck affair in Xavier Martinez vs. Juan Carlos Burgos. Also, Nonito Donaire’s stoppage of unbeaten Nordine Oubaali, Gary Antuanne Russell taking apart Jovaine Santiago, and an absolute banger in Subriel Matais vs. Batyrzhan Jukembayev.
The Floyd Mayweather legal bank robbery did give us an upset of the year type result with Luis Arias defeating Jarrett Hurd. Still, to come is Gervonta Davis stepping up 2 weight classes to fight Mario Barrios, and the co-feature has explosive written all over when Erickson Lubin and Jeison Rosario do battle. After Bob Arum and Eddie Hearn said, Showtime was going out of business because they couldn’t hang it was parroted by the usual suspects in the media. With the fights on the schedule for the 3rd quarter, it will be difficult to top them, but from a fan’s perspective, let’s hope FOX, ESPN, and DAZN give us something to sink our teeth in beyond just what’s on their current schedule for July to September.
Written by Chris Carlson Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available at www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio & Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio