SHOWTIME Sports® and Premier Boxing Champions unveiled a nine-event television lineup for the remainder of 2020 in a virtual press conference today. The schedule is the largest collection of world championship boxing announced since the COVID-19 pandemic forced a stoppage of the sport.
SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® host Brian Custer introduced the schedule comprising of 22 critical matchups, beginning on August 1, featuring 18 undefeated fighters, nine world champions and eight world championship fights including one world title unification bout. The robust rollout of fights over the next five months includes two unique pay-per-view events involving some of boxing’s biggest names – Gervonta Davis, Leo Santa Cruz, Jermall Charlo, Jermell Charlo and David Benavidez.
Each live telecast will be presented without fans in attendance from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Included in the schedule are four world title eliminators, three interim title fights and 13 bouts in all pitting top-10 ranked fighters.
Custer was joined by Stephen Espinoza, President, Sports and Event Programming, Showtime Networks Inc., to preview the robust schedule spanning five months as well as world champions the Charlos, Benavidez and undefeated prospects Stephen Fulton Jr. and Angelo Leo to discuss their respective bouts.
Below are highlights of what Espinoza and the fighters had to say:
“We’re thrilled to announce what we believe is the strongest and most comprehensive schedule in all of boxing. Meaningful fights, competitive matchups. This is what boxing fans have been waiting for ever since the sport shut down in March. Between that March date, our last event on ShoBox, and August 1 will be 141 days that we’ve been down. Like everyone else, we’ve spent a tremendous amount of time coming up with protocols – but also a tremendous amount of time coming up with this schedule. From highly regarded prospects to emerging stars and big-time champions, we put them all in tough matchups. This lineup really delivers on our promise to boxing fans with the biggest fights, the most exciting fights, and the highest quality presentation in the sport. We’re doing nine telecasts with what are unquestionably the most significant fights in the sport since boxing has restarted.
“This is a really high-quality schedule with five months of meaningful fights, competitive fights and fights that are really going to determine champions and challengers for the foreseeable future.
“We weren’t going to come back just for the sake of coming back. We wanted to come back at a high level with meaningful fights – with fights which would remind the public why they’re excited about the sport of boxing. So, we put together a schedule week after week of competitive fights, with big names, with meaningful fights. Before we know it, this sport is going to be back where it should be in terms of momentum and positive energy.”
“We will show everyone on September 26 that we’re the future of boxing. We’re going to let everyone in the world see the great things that me and my twin brother have done for the sport.
“Of course, the pandemic made us separate a lot of things in our routine and do things slightly differently. But I also can work out here at home so it hasn’t been too tough for me to stay sharp.
“Every fight is tough and I’m coming in prepared like always. Derevyanchenko is a highly rated fighter and we’re both going to go in there to get the job done.
“We haven’t decided who’s going to fight first, but we’re just so excited to be headlining these separate PPV cards. Me and my twin brother have something big in store for everyone on September 26.
“We just stay in shape. We’re always training and we’re always ready. This is a time in life where everyone had to go through the same thing. It was just a matter of time to get back to boxing.
“It is what it is not having fans in the stands. There’s not much we can do about it. We’re back and we’re going to enjoy it.
“I didn’t think Derevyanchenko won the fight against Golovkin, but he definitely made it a lot closer than people expected. I didn’t think people knew about his style and what he brings to the ring. It was close, but I didn’t think he won the fight.
“This win lets people know that I’m ready for the biggest fights against the other middleweight champions. Derevyanchenko has been in with tough competition, but he’s come up short. I know that people will have questions no matter what happens, but that’s just part of boxing. I’m ready to fight.
“It would definitely deliver a statement to the boxing world if I knock him out. The power is for real and I can get in there and hurt just about anybody.
“I feel like we’re going to meet in the middle of the ring and let our hands go. May the best man win. My game plan is going to be to shut his game plan down. We’ll see on fight night.”
“Jermall and Jermell have always said they want to do big events, historical events, unprecedented events that are unlike any other and that’s what this is. You would have to go back to those marathon Don King pay-per-views of the 80’s where you would have this many title fights on one card and even on those fights 30 or 40 years ago, you didn’t see the array of talent that we’re getting on September 26. Four world title fights, a unification fight, Jermell, Jermall taking arguably the toughest fights of their careers on the biggest stage. It is sort of the crown jewel in the schedule right now.”
“This opportunity is finally here and I’m happy that me and my brother have this day to show how much we put into the sport. Now is our time to be PPV stars.
“I’ve been boxing for so long and it’s been my dream to win multiple belts, you can expect me to get that win. I’m going to dominate. I don’t want to leave this up to the judges. I’m going to dominate or win by knockout. That’s how I do it.
“People will be saying that ‘the Charlos are boxing’ after September 26. They’ll have to put us on the pound-for-pound lists after our performances.
“What matters the most is having this platform and putting on a great performance September 26. We know what we have to do.
“Being well-rested is important. Our bodies are in a great position and now it’s about getting better and working on things we need to work on. Boxing is a year-round sport, so we always stay in shape.
“Rosario is just another fighter with two arms, two legs and a mind. I’m going to do what I do and be destructive. My job is to take his titles and that’s what I’m planning to do.
“We always fought on the same cards growing up. It gives us energy and helps us be at our best. At the end of the day, we’re going to be ready to fight no matter what.
“When you’re really focused on the fight you’re zoned in and not even hearing the crowd. It’s not going to be a factor for us.
“If Rosario can’t take the power, we can fight all twelve. I can take a punch, but we don’t know if he can take a Jermell Charlo punch. We’re going for knockouts. I like to set it up and deliver it within the 12 rounds.”
“We’re thrilled to have David (Benavidez) back on SHOWTIME. He’s one of the most exciting young fighters in boxing. Young, exciting, charismatic, someone that if you haven’t seen fight, you’re in for a treat. Again, on this particular card, we can’t just focus on the main event because there’s two really compelling co-features. Speaking of somebody who’s exciting to watch, “Rollie” Romero clearly fits that bill. If you haven’t seen him, make sure to tune in. He is one of the most exciting young fighters as well. In the opening bout, two high quality heavyweights will match up. In this case, two heavyweights who both suffered from and eventually recovered from COVID. Thankfully, they’ve recovered, but those are three intriguing fights headed by David Benavidez’s return to SHOWTIME.”
“I’m very excited to come back. We’ve been out of the ring for almost a year.
“It was a little difficult getting this camp started because – Seattle was the epicenter of the pandemic. So, the number one key was to stay home, stay safe, and train at the right times. Now that we have the fight in August, we’ve brought a couple guys from different cities and everyone has been tested and everything has been good. I’m in my dad’s gym, so we can train whenever we want. We’ve been having a great training camp so far and now it’s just getting to the date smoothly.
“That’s very unfortunate right now (not to have fans in attendance), but I think what matters most is the safety and protection of the people. It’s going to be the same thing, like the Charlo’s said, you kind of get tunnel vision when you’re in the ring. My main goal right now is to give the fans at home the best possible fight I can possibly give them. (Roamer Alexis) Angulo has a nice record, and he has a lot of knockouts. I have a lot of knockouts, so it’s going to be fireworks all night.
“I’m expecting him to come forward, this is his second world title fight. I think he’s here to make a statement and I know he’s taking this fight very seriously. I want these tough fights. I want these brawls. I want these barn burners. You don’t want to blink because this fight is going to end in a knockout.
“My main goal is to get to Caleb Plant. That’s the fight I want the most, that’s the fight I feel the fans want the most. Since we’re in the same promotion company that’s fairly easy. I was hoping to get that fight by the end of this year but the pandemic kind of messed up a lot of things. I’m not looking past Angulo — he looks like a great fighter and he looks like a strong fighter. I want to get past this fight and then hopefully by the beginning of next year we can get to Caleb Plant.
(On a potential move to Light Heavyweight)
“I think so, but as of right now there are a lot of great fights at 168. There’s Caleb Plant, there’s Callum Smith, there’s Canelo, there’s Billy Joe Saunders. There are so many great fighters at 168 and there are a lot of great fights to be made. I’m going to be here until I make all of those fights. I have a long time left in this boxing game. I still have about 10 or 13 years in this boxing game left, so I don’t have to move up too quick. As soon as I get all of these fights and all of the belts I want to get at 168, then it’s time to move up to 175 – but I’m staying at Super Middleweight right now for a while.”
“What strikes me about the August 1 card isn’t just the quality at the top of the card with two young, emerging guys fighting for a world title. On this one card, we have five undefeated fighters and one fighter with just one loss. And the one fighter with the loss is trying to avenge that in a rematch on this particular card. This is a remarkably competitive, high-quality card top to bottom. It’s not just Fulton-Leo – although that one is a fight fan’s fight – each of these three fights is meaningful an among top-tier guys and rising stars. They are the kind of fights that sort out future champions from the guys who came close. This card may quietly be the most consistent card from top to bottom on the whole schedule.”
STEPHEN FULTON JR.
“It would mean everything to me (to be the only current world champion from Philadelphia). I feel like I always hold Philly on my back, no matter what, and that mindset would not change even if there were five champions from Philly. I am coming to fight.”
“You should expect a good fight. I have been rocked before, but look where I’m at, still standing. I’m just excited overall for every aspect in how he fights. I am excited to be in the ring with him and have the opportunity to display my skills.”
“I am going to beat him because he hasn’t been tested. No one he fought has brought any competition to him. I am going to beat him because I have been tested, I have taken those punches and showed I can get up. Also, my overall skills are just better than his.
“I am always looking to mental adjustments leading up to the fight, and during the fight. I plan to look at this like sparring. When you are sparring, no one is there. I plan to have that same energy, but just a little more intense.
“Personally, I just want to beat him. After that, we can talk about what happens in the future. Honestly, I am just worried about this guy. I am not even thinking about anyone else. That being said, I feel like I am the best in this division. I prove myself over and over again, and that is what I am going to continue to do. I want to be the first undisputed 122-pound champion in the world.”
“It would mean the world to me (to be the first champion from Albuquerque since the late great Johnny Tapia). He was a fighter I look up to, and to become a champion out of Albuquerque says a lot about the city, and a lot about myself. The goal is to become champion, and to represent Albuquerque in the process.
“At the end of the day it is a fight. He can boast about his resume all he wants. We are both top five in the world, we are both undefeated, so it does not really matter once we get in there. He has beaten undefeated fighters, but if you look at those fights, he has been rocked and dropped in all of them. He is not untouchable.
“I am going to get the victory, of course. Whether it goes 12 rounds or not, I am going in there to get that title.
“I am hungrier than him. I have seen what he has, and I know I can break him down. He doesn’t have the will and the heart like I do. On top of that, I have a lot of skill and experience. He is going to see why I am undefeated.
“I definitely feel I’m ready for championship fights. I thought I was ready for a world title three years ago. After I stopped Cesar Juarez in spectacular fashion, I knew I was ready for a world title.
“The 122-pound division is loaded, filled with great talent. This just makes for exciting fights. This is what boxing fans want, and this is what we are going to give them. To be the best you need to beat the best, and if you do not think that way you should not be in the sport. I am in this sport to be the best.”