In seven days, on Saturday, March, 7, boxing returns to primetime broadcast television with the debut of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on NBC at 8:30 p.m. ET. The debut of PBC on NBC features a pair of blockbuster bouts — Keith Thurman vs. Robert Guerrero, and Adrien Broner vs. John Molina Jr. — from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Blow-by-blow announcer Marv Albert and analyst “Sugar” Ray Leonard call the action. Al Michaels will host. Laila Ali and B.J. Flores serve as corner analysts, joined by reporter Kenny Rice.
BOXING ON NBC
NBC Sports has a rich boxing history, presenting the sport to millions of viewers across the country beginning with the first-ever live televised fight in 1939. Following are NBC Sports boxing highlights:
June 1, 1939 – NBC aired the first-ever live telecast of boxing when Lou Nova defeated Max Baer. Famed NBC announcer Bill Stern called the match from Yankee Stadium. The event occurred just two weeks after NBC presented the first-ever broadcast of a sporting event, a baseball game between Columbia and Princeton.
1946 – NBC introduced the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports, which focused on the Friday night boxing series at Madison Square Garden. Cavalcade of Sports aired through 1960.
June 19, 1946 – The first heavyweight championship fight ever televised was part of the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports series with Joe Louis defeating Billy Conn to defend his title. The event was one of the great fights of the decade, as The New York Times dedicated a full page to the results of the bout.
Sept. 18, 1946 – Joe Louis defeated Tami Mauriello for the world heavyweight title with a knockout just 2:09 into the first round.
Feb. 14, 1951 – “Sugar” Ray Robinson defeated Jake LaMotta for the world middleweight title. Dubbed boxing’s “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre,” the 13-round bout was the last in a bitter rivalry between the fighters that included six fights over a span of nearly eight years.
May 15, 1953 – With one punch after one minute and 25 seconds in the first round, Rocky Marciano knocked out “Jersey” Joe Walcott to regain the world heavyweight championship. Viewers who did not tune in immediately missed the fight, which was the shortest in heavyweight championship history at the time.
May 18, 1956 – “Sugar” Ray Robinson defeated Bobo Olson for the world middleweight title in two minutes and 31 seconds in front of a crowd of 20,000 at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. NBC broadcast this fight on television and on radio.
Sept. 29, 1977 – Muhammad Ali defeated Earnie Shavers in 15 rounds with Dick Enberg, Larry Merchant and Ken Norton, the top ranked heavyweight contender at the time, calling the bout at Madison Square Garden.
July 15, 1979 – Muhammad Ali faced former Broncos defensive lineman Lyle Alzado in an exhibition match at Mile High Stadium in Denver. While there was no declared winner, Ali was widely recognized as the victor.
Aug. 19, 1979 – Marv Albert called his first boxing match for NBC as Ken Norton faced hometown-favorite Scott LeDoux in Bloomington, Minn. In a controversial finish, timing mechanisms caused confusion at the end of the bout as LeDoux had Norton on the ropes and knocked him down. The fight was announced a draw, in what was the third-to-last fight of Norton’s career. Norton would later call several bouts on NBC alongside Albert.
July 5, 1981 – Featured on NBC’s SportsWorld, “Sugar” Ray Leonard defeated Ayub Kalule by knockout at two minutes and 59 seconds of the ninth round at the Astrodome in Houston, to become the junior world middleweight champion.
Aug. 9, 1981 – Despite being knocked down twice, Renaldo Snipes defeated Gerrie Coetzee in a controversial split decision at the New Westchester Theatre in Tarrytown, N.Y. Following the fight, NBC’s switchboard was flooded with calls from viewers protesting the decision.
Oct. 10, 1981 – NBC’s SportsWorld presented the middleweight title match between champion Marvin Hagler and top contender Mustafa Hamsho. Hagler dominated the fight, and won by knockout in the 11th round to become the first world middleweight champion to earn a $1 million purse.
Jan. 17, 1982 – NBC SportsWorld presented Bobby Czyz vs. Robbie Sims from the Tropicana Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J. The N.J.-native Czyz won by unanimous decision.
Mar. 21, 1982 – N.J.-native Scott Franks squared off against Renaldo Snipes at the Playboy Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.. The fight between the favored Snipes and Franks was ruled a draw.
July 4, 1982 – Marv Albert, “The Fight Doctor” Ferdie Pacheco and Alexis Arguello called a bout for the world super lightweight title between Aaron Pryor and Akio Kameda in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati-born Pryor won by knockout in the sixth round to retain his title.
Nov. 25, 1983 – Larry Holmes and Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini recorded first round knockouts against Marvis Frazier and Johnny Torres, respectively, in primetime on NBC.
May 20, 1985 – Larry Holmes faced Carl “The Truth” Williams in Reno, Nev., in NBC’s last major primetime boxing match. Dick Enberg hosted the telecast, with Marv Albert and Ferdie Pacheco calling the action.
June 7, 1987 – Vinny Pazienza won the lightweight title over defending champion Greg Haugen in a controversial, unanimous 15-round decision in front of Pazienza’s hometown crowd at the Providence Civic Center.
NBC and NBCSN will present 20 live PBC on NBC boxing events in 2015. Within the 20 live shows, NBC Sports Group will present more than 50 hours of PBC coverage, including NBCSN pre- and post-fight programming for NBC telecasts. The Premier Boxing Champions series is created for television by Haymon Boxing. The PBC on NBC will feature many of today’s brightest stars, in their most compelling matches.
All PBC on NBC shows will be streamed live on NBC Sports Live Extra via “TV Everywhere,” giving consumers additional value for their subscription service, and making high quality content available to MVPD customers both in and out of the home and on multiple platforms. NBC Sports Live Extra is available for desktops at NBCSports.com/liveextra. The NBC Sports Live Extra app is available at the App Store for iPad and iPod touch, on select devices within Google Play, and on windows phones and tablets.