Although Top Rank, Golden Boy Promotions and Matchroom Boxing have all announced fight cards in recent months in the COVID-19 era of boxing, PBC remained silent until now.
The boxing entity made a major announcement on July 22, revealing multiple fight cards, including two pay-per-view events, that Showtime will handle and air through the remainder of 2020.
The schedule that was laid out, and it’s not the complete schedule as Showtime stated more fight cards will be announced in the coming weeks, is easily the most robust and star-driven in boxing today. However, like with some of these other boxing entities, each Showtime live telecast will be presented without fans in attendance and will take place from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Many had wondered where PBC was going with its schedule seeing as it was the last major entity to announce events. However, Showtime wanted to make sure everything was set for the biggest possible return to the sport.
“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,” Stephen Espinoza, President of Sports and Event Programming for Showtime said in a virtual press conference that was media-invite only.
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.
A number of interesting tidbits from the press conference were noted such as Showtime being open to extending its schedule to doing events outside of Connecticut and even with fans if the conditions allow it, plus the network planning to host ShoBox cards throughout the remainder of the year.
However, even if no more fights were announced by PBC for the remainder of the year (which will not be the case given that there are FOX dates for PBC to fill), then it will end 2020 with a bang and there is already a lot to digest and analyze.
— SHOWTIME SPORTS (@SHOsports) July 22, 2020
Below is a breakdown of every single boxing card that Showtime and PBC announced.
- Main Event: Stephen Fulton Jr. vs. Angelo Leo: Vacant WBO super bantamweight title
- Co-Main Event: Tramaine Williams vs. Ra’eese Aleem: Super bantamweight title eliminator
- Joe George vs. Marcos Escudero
Showtime’s first boxing card back will feature two rising unbeaten stars within the super bantamweight division in Stephen Fulton Jr. and Angelo Leo.
The fight was made as a result of Emanuel Navarrete vacating his WBO super bantamweight title in order to move up to featherweight. Naturally, the WBO ordered its top two-ranked fighters in that division to fight for the vacant world title.
Fulton and Leo are two of PBC’s top young fighters in the lower weight classes and with WBA titlist Brandon Figueroa also a PBC regular, the brand sports three solid fighters at 122 pounds who are entering their prime. With Figueroa having already headlined a PBC card in the past on FS1 and Fulton being a popular fighter among pundits in that division, the winner of Fulton vs. Leo can potentially set up a fight against Figueroa down the road in what could be a Showtime or FOX main event.
The co-main event will feature unbeaten super bantamweight prospects Tramaine Williams and Ra’eese Aleem competing in a super bantamweight title eliminator (Showtime and PBC failed to specify for which title and it’s hard to pinpoint which one because they’re both ranked separately on all four sanctioning bodies but neither are both ranked in the same one). These two have fought on fairly notable boxing cards in the past, but neither have had a major spotlight turned towards them until now.
Even though it is a title eliminator, neither of these two are still quite exactly at the world-title level and so it will be hard to see the winner of this fight be in a true championship bout within the next 12 months.
- Main Event: David Benavidez vs. Roamer Alexis Angulo: WBC super middleweight title
- Co-Main Event: Rolando Romero vs. Jackson Marinez: Interim WBA lightweight title
- Otto Wallin vs. Travis Kauffman
David Benavidez, the super middleweight division’s youngest champion, has been on the cusp of a major unification fight with IBF champion Caleb Plant for 2020, but the pandemic put a halt to those plans, giving Benavidez another title defense while that fight gets sorted out.
The undercard is an interesting one to say the least. The WBA reared its ugly head once more and created yet another title, this time an interim lightweight belt even though there are technically two WBA world champions in that division. Rolando Romero, who has been one of Floyd Mayweather’s young, rising prospects, will face Jackson Marinez for the interim belt, allowing the winner to perhaps get bigger fights down the road.
The two WBA lightweight champions are Vasiliy Lomachenko (the Super champion) and Gervonta Davis, another fighter promoted by Mayweather. If both Romero and Davis are able to win their next fights, it’s not unthinkable to envision that potential fight happening down the road. Romero might need a little more seasoning before he’s put out there against Davis, but the brickwork is laid there for that fight to happen.
The other undercard bout will feature Otto Wallin, the man who gave Tyson Fury a nasty cut in September 2019 and nearly ended Fury’s shot at a rematch against Deontay Wilder. Wallin has always been looked at as a promising European heavyweight but his stock rose significantly due to his performance against Fury. The heavyweight division, especially once you get past the trio of Wilder, Fury and Joshua, is littered with contenders, former titlists and rising prospects. If Wallin stays fighting on PBC shows, there’s a potential bout against the likes of Andy Ruiz Jr., Adam Kownacki, Charles Martin and more with Wilder still standing atop the heavyweights on PBC’s roster.
- Main Event: Erickson Lubin vs. Terrell Gausha: WBC junior middleweight title eliminator
- Co-Main Event: Tugstsogt Nyambayar vs. Eduardo Ramirez: WBC featherweight title eliminator
- Jaron Ennis vs. TBA
Erickson Lubin has long been a PBC project and someone the entity hoped would be a world champion by this point. Lubin suffered a first-round knockout loss to Jermell Charlo back in 2017 and since then, Lubin has been slowly working his way back up to title contention. Gausha has been in a similar spot as Lubin, losing to Erislandy Lara in a title fight in 2017 and has also been looking to get back into contention.
The winner won’t just get a WBC title shot, but more than likely get the winner of the Jermell Charlo vs. Jeison Rosario fight taking place one week later for the unified WBA, WBC and IBF world titles.
The money for PBC is in a Charlo vs. Lubin rematch given both have been featured prominently by PBC and this is the most marketable matchup that can be made among the possible combination of winners between the four fighters.
But even if the winner of Lubin vs. Gausha doesn’t get the Charlo vs. Rosario winner immediately, he’ll have PBC’s robust junior middleweight roster at its disposal from Tony Harrison to Jarrett Hurd to Julian Williams and more.
The co-main will have Tugstsogt Nyambayar, a favorite among boxing hardcores, and Eduardo Ramirez competing in a WBC featherweight bout that will no doubt produce another title challenger for 2021. Nyambayar gave a spirited effort in a loss to WBC champion Gary Russell Jr. back in February, but many still believe that Nyambayar is still more than capable of winning a belt.
Ramirez has always been close to reaching the top of the mountain but every time he either fought for a title or for a guaranteed title shot, Ramirez felt short. He will undoubtedly be the underdog against Nyambayar, but an upset could mean a shot at Russell in 2021 as the champion is still exploring opponents and fight dates.
The one fight that has not been finalized on this televised portion of the card features arguably the most talked-about welterweight prospect today in Jaron Ennis. The unbeaten Ennis has long been pegged for superstardom and many believe him to be a future world champion, even in a division as loaded as welterweight. Ennis has no opponent and that is expected to be resolved within the next few days per Showtime. Regardless, many will look at this fight as a potential coming out party for Ennis as he could start making some serious noise in the welterweight division in 2021.
September 26 PPV Doubleheader:
- First Main Event: Jermall Charlo vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko: WBC middleweight title
- Brandon Figueroa vs. Damien Vasquez: WBA super bantamweight title
- Diego Magdaleno vs. Isaac Cruz: IBF lightweight title eliminator
- Second Main Event: Jermell Charlo vs. Jeison Rosario: WBA, WBC, IBF junior middleweight title unification
- Mario Barrios vs. Ryan Karl: WBA junior welterweight title
- Daniel Roman vs. TBA
This is by far the most interesting show on the schedule, not just from an in-ring perspective, but also from a broadcast schedule. The pay-per-view actually consists of two different fight cards, each headlined by one of the Charlo twins in a world title fight, but it will all be one collective event for the price of one pay-per-view.
One fight card will be headlined by Jermall Charlo defending his WBC middleweight title against Sergiy Derevyanchenko with Brandon Figueroa and Diego Magdaleno competing on that undercard. The other fight card will be headlined by Jermell Charlo facing Jeison Rosario in a WBA, WBC and IBF junior middleweight title unification with Mario Barrios and Daniel Roman competing under that undercard.
The biggest story out of this is the fact that this is effectively two fight cards under one event and in a pay-per-view setting. It’s a unique set-up that has been untested in boxing before and it will be headlined by a first-time pay-per-view headliner.
Both Charlos have a big following not just as individuals, but as a boxing duo who routinely fight either on the same card or on separate cards within a short time span between each show. The two of them have been proven draws, especially when both fight on the same card, but it doesn’t always translate into a major pay-per-view buyrate. Gennadiy Golovkin’s first two pay-per-view main events produced low numbers even though he was one of HBO’s top boxing draws at the time.
However, there are two things going for Showtime when it comes to the pay-per-view and its chances of success. If PBC flexes its muscles and gets FOX to do some promotion during football season for the event given that PBC also has a broadcast deal with FOX, it will at least draw some extra buys. PBC’s FOX cards’ television ratings and viewership have shown to be better when FOX advertises fights in the middle of NFL games.
The other is the sheer volume of big fights and star power present across the six fights. There are four title bouts with another being a title eliminator and several of these fighters have either fought on national television or pay-per-view.
It’s an interesting experiment and if it becomes a massive hit, this could entice Showtime or FOX to try this format again down the line. For now, this event has the most bang-for-your-buck value in a pay-per-view in years.
When looking at the respective main events, it’s hard to argue they are quality fights. Jermall, who has long been ignored as a player in the middleweight division (partially due to most of the top middleweights fighting for Matchroom Boxing and DAZN), has shown electric power at times and is easily a top five middleweight. Derevyanchenko is best known for his battles against Daniel Jacobs and Gennadiy Golovkin, both of which Derevyanchenko lost by a narrow margin on the scorecards. Despite this, Derevyanchenko emerged as the best middleweight to not hold a title and some may view as a potential favorite in the fight against Jermall.
Jermell, on the other hand, will finally get his long-awaited three-belt unification at junior middleweight (with the Ring Magazine’s vacant title also at stake) when he faces Rosario. After the junior middleweight division was briefly reshuffled entirely after Jarrett Hurd, Erislandy Lara and Jermell all suffered title losses. However, things seemed to be back on track when Jermell defeated Tony Harrison to win back the WBC title. Meanwhile, Rosario pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the 2019 when he defeated Julian Williams late last year to win the WBA and IBF titles. Jermell currently stands at the top of the division that never sees any stability and Rosario has already proven that he can shock the world, giving this fight a lot of intrigue.
- Main Event: Sergey Lipinets vs. Kudratillo Abdukakhorov: Interim IBF welterweight title
- Xavier Martinez vs. Claudio Marrero
- Malik Hawkins vs. Subriel Matias
PBC’s welterweight roster is easily one of boxing’s best across all platforms and divisions with Manny Pacquiao, Danny Garcia, Errol Spence Jr., Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman and more leading the charge, but one dark horse in the division is Sergey Lipinets.
The former junior welterweight titlist has slowly worked his way up the rankings and emerged as a top contender, but given the number of stars in that division, it’s easy for some to forget about Lipinets. The fight against Kudratillo Abdukakhorov is for the interim IBF title but more importantly, it grants the winner mandatory challenger status for Spence’s IBF (and by extension, WBC) world title.
A fight between Spence and Lipinets may not exactly be a pay-per-view seller to the common fans, but if that fight were to be made, it would be a prime matchup that would benefit greatly from airing on FOX, where it would further elevate Spence and Lipinets’ profile due to the sheer number of people tuning compared to it being on pay-per-view.
The undercard will also feature the likes of Xavier Martinez and Malik Hawkins, prospects competing under the Mayweather Promotions banner.
October 24 PPV:
- Main event: Gervonta Davis vs. Leo Santa Cruz: Dual WBA Super Featherweight/Lightweight Titles. Fight will be contested at 130 pounds (super featherweight limit).
Both Gervonta Davis and Leo Santa Cruz have been on a collision course throughout the year and the two champions were always set to face off against each other, but the big question was what fight and what title would be on the line.
As it turns out, both Davis’ WBA “Regular” lightweight title and Santa Cruz’s WBA super featherweight title will be on the line with the fight being contested at 130 pounds.
We’ve seen boxers hold titles in multiple weight classes in the past before, but it’s incredibly rare to see a fight with titles in two different weight classes on the line at the same time. Perhaps the most famous example of this was Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Donny Lalonde for both the WBC light heavyweight and WBC super middleweight titles in 1988.
Back then, many disliked the format and how the titles were at stake and Davis vs. Santa Cruz has also seen its fair share of criticism, but also skepticism. Davis has a history of struggling to make weight at 130 pounds, missing weight before an IBF title defense on the Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor card and was immediately stripped of the title. He’s also needed multiple attempts at weigh-ins just to make 130-pounds, so doubts of him making weight here are not without merit.
As a fight, Davis vs. Santa Cruz is a very solid one. Davis has been one of boxing’s top young stars who has tremendous power, even for a super featherweight. Santa Cruz has held titles across various weight classes and has been in some critically acclaimed fights such as Abner Mares and Carl Frampton. Those two pose a fan-friendly style when paired with aggressive boxers, so the in-ring action will likely be great.
This is Davis’ first fight as a pay-per-view headliner and he’s been someone groomed by Mayweather as the future of the sport and has shown he can draw 10,000+ in various different markets such as Atlanta and Baltimore. His television ratings have been solid given Showtime’s past boxing ratings. It’s hard to put a number as to how big the buyrate will be especially since the full card has yet to be announced, though this will more than likely be a one-fight show where the undercard won’t factor in too much in the final buyrate.
- Main Event: Chris Colbert vs. Jaime Arboleda: Interim WBA super featherweight title
- Richardson Hitchins vs. Argenis Mendez
Though not as star-studded as some of the other fight cards, this is still an intriguing event. Chris Colbert has always been seen as an up-and-coming player in boxing’s ever-changing super featherweight division and does own wins against the likes of Jezreel Corrales and Miguel Vasquez Jr.
Colbert shows plenty of promise as a contender, but given his PBC affiliation, it will be hard, not impossible to secure fights against the top fighters in the division. Aside from Leo Santa Cruz, the majority of the super featherweight division’s best fighters and bigger stars are all scattered across Top Rank, Golden Boy Promotions and Matchroom Boxing. Colbert will more than likely get a big fight at some point in the future if he keeps winning, but it will have to mean sitting down with one of the other entities to make sure that fight happens.
The other fight announced will see Richardson Hitchins, another Mayweather Promotions prospect, make a big leap in opposition and take on former world champion and battle-tested veteran Argenis Mendez. A win for Hitchins will take him to the next level as far as his progression goes and he will be a regular on PBC TV cards down the line as he continues to be groomed towards a potential title shot down the road.
- Main Event: Nordine Oubaali vs. Nonito Donaire: WBC bantamweight title
Closing out the schedule is an under-the-radar bantamweight title fight between Nordine Oubaali and Nonito Donaire. Though not many are talking about the bout, this has the makings to be one of the best fights of the year.
Oubaali is a top-tier bantamweight with wins over Rau’shee Warren on pay-per-view and over Takuma Inoue in Saitama, Japan. Donaire is currently in the middle of a career-resurgence at bantamweight after advancing to the World Boxing Super Series finals and losing to Naoya Inoue in an all-time great bantamweight fight.
Interestingly enough, both Oubaali and Donaire competed on the same card in Saitama, Japan last November, which really set the stage for the winners of both title fights, whether they knew it or not at the time.
The winner of the fight will firmly be planted in the top three on most people’s bantamweight rankings with Inoue and John Riel Casimero, who collectively hold the WBA, WBO and IBF titles, taking up the other two spots. Inoue vs. Casimero has long been planned with the fight originally scheduled for April but now there’s no set date for that unification. The winner of Oubaali vs. Donaire and Inoue vs. Casimero could potentially meet to crown the first undisputed bantamweight champion since the 1970s.