Premier Boxing Champions has reinvigorated the sport already after only two of its prime time offerings on NBC. First, Adrien Broner embarrassed the sport by refusing to engage a gunshy John Molina, then in a more satisfying bout, Keith Thurman demonstrated his ability to adapt in tough situations and most recently, Shawn Porter proved his skill against a very impressive last minute replacement in Erick Bone. That fight on the undergrad of Andre Berto’s clash with Josesito Lopez along with an impressive stay busy fight for Chris Arreola. Even more exciting might have been the extremely competitive clash between Sergey Kovalev and Jean Pascal. While in the past Pascal’s technique held him back from the elite level, Kovalev had difficulty being consistent with his pressure in the face of an opponent who could handle his power. Pascal was nothing less than stubborn in his refusal to go down in what seemed like dangerous moments of the fight, but when the fight was finally stopped, the momentum had swung back again to the point that the referee’s intervention seemed premature, or at least, inappropriate for the fighters’ condition.
The advent of the great PBC fights has been so successful that it’s brought about the conclusion of one of the sport’s only consistent broadcasts for the last two decades. ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights will no longer be broadcast after its final broadcast on May 22nd, being supplanted by the main network PBC show. I have mixed feelings about the transition because, while a great boost for the sport of boxing in general, FNF and ESPN Classic were my first introduction to boxing. These were gateways that brought me everything from Ali-Norton to Holyfield-Bowe, Ward-Gatti to Lewis-McCall. Those moments changed my life and my understanding of it forever. Anything that never changes is stagnant, so I maintain optimism that this change is a step in the right direction, to reestablishing boxing as a major sport and bringing audiences all the special moments hardcore fans already get to appreciate. Farewell, FNF.