Main Events on NBC Sports Network
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Dec 9, 2011) Doghouse Boxing
NBC Sports Network
On January 21st from Philadelphia's Asylum Arena, a heavyweight bout between Sergei Liakhovich and Eddie Chambers headlines the first installment of “Fight Night” on the NBC Sports Network (which is Versus till early January). It will be the first of four installments that Main Events has secured with the NBC Sports Group for 2012. Will this be a precursor to boxing returning to NBC down the line?
“I hope so,” said Main Events CEO Kathy Duva, a couple of weeks back as this deal was officially announced. “That's something we've all been hoping for a very long time and hopefully, if they're happy with what we do on the cable channel, that will lead to bigger and better things. First though, we've got to produce a great product on the cable channel.”
The first card airs from 9 PM to 11PM. The remaining schedule lines up this way: March 24th (10 PM- Midnight), June 16th (9 PM-11 PM) and December 8th (9 PM-11PM).
Duva talked about the genesis of this deal, “When Comcast and NBC merged, once the merger was over and we had hoped perhaps- because we have had a long relationship with NBC going back to the 1980s - that now that NBC had a sports channel on cable, also the sports nets that we're going to fall under the purview of NBC Sports, that maybe there might be enough real estate there for them to start thinking about boxing. So talking to them about it, it looked good in the beginning and then it kinda died down for awhile and then it came back to life and somewhere in the middle of the summer around June or so, I got a call that they said we were going to get a few dates although we weren't sure how many or how extensive it would be.
“It's taken from then till now to really get it hammered down and everything penciled in for sure, as opposed to ‘maybe.’ It's been a long time.”
Main Events has four dates to make this work into something more long-term and substantial. Duva realizes this. “Look, I got four dates here. We're not going to change the world. Everybody who is fan of boxing, I think, and is involved in boxing, that they look at programming on the various networks and they say, ‘I can do it better. Here's how I'd do it.’ We're getting a chance, so it's time to put up or shut up. So we're going to try our best to put up.”
While Main Events has these dates, this will not be your traditional output deal. Several years ago when Versus got into the boxing business with Top Rank, the quality of their shows suffered as they were Tye Fields-ed to death. Just as quickly, Versus ditched the sport. While Liakhovich is represented by Main Events, Chambers is with Goossen Tutor. The opening bout on this broadcast features a fighter represented by Top Rank in Jesus Soto-Karass against Gabriel Rosado, who is with Peltz Boxing.

“Main Events doesn't have 60 fighters under contract. It gives us the freedom to go out there and work with other people. I don't have 60 guys I have to give wins to. So basically the fighters we do have under contract, if they want to be on the series, they want to be on TV, they're going to have to fight tough. They're going to have to fight good, competitive fights,” explained Duva. “But for the most part, basically the field’s wide open. Our mission, our goal, what we've been asked to do is go out and find fighters who are willing to fight competitive matches, not set-ups, not ‘appearance fights,’ who are willing to engage in a match that will move their careers forward if they win and also, people with pleasing style. With Russell Peltz as the matchmaker of this, part of the goal here is to match fighters- not records. 
“So the fighter’s record or notoriety will not be the real issue here. It's going to be if these two fighters together can make an entertaining fight for the fans to watch.”
It's been reported that the license fee for this series is in the six figures but it is still small in comparison to what HBO and Showtime dole out. This means that Duva has already run into the problem of trying to make fights where the participants have different views of the marketplace.
“Oh, we've ran into people saying, ‘Well, we could make that fight on HBO and we'd get a lot more.’ ‘Well, if you've got the date, let me know.’ But the world is full of wishful thinkers. Y’ know, guys can sit around and wish. My feeling is that there are some people who are exceptions and are just so great, that they can sit around and wait and fight once a year and make a fortune, God bless ‘em. Those guys are going to be on the series.”
Boxing has a vacuum where you either make a pittance on ESPN2 or an exorbitant amount on the premium cable networks but in this system, it's hard for boxers at the world-class level to fight more than two or three times a year. Where there was once USA's “Tuesday Night Fights” to bridge that gap, now there is just inactivity. These slots, at least for 2012, will at least serve that purpose.
“There's plenty of people who understand that the best way to be good at something is to practice it, to do it all the time, to be active. I think an active fighter is always better than one that's inactive,” said Duva. “So we're saying to them, frankly, in trying to make these matches, I find myself saying to fighters, ‘Look, you're going to get a lot of exposure. Everybody is going to talk about you. If you win the fight, your career moves forward and if you're in a good fight where you mix it up and you lose the fight, nobody's going to forget about you.’ Not everybody who agrees with that or are willing to buy into that are taking that risk. The one's that are, they're the ones who are going to be on the shows.”
Back in 2003, Main Events struck a deal with NBC to televise a series of fights on Saturday afternoon. How this new deal is structured, while it may not be on “The Peacock,” the network will be selling the advertising while still hunting for sponsors. Also, another key component is they now have the aid of the regional networks of Comcast.
And while NBC Sports Network may not be a terrestrial network, many cable networks are now in upwards of 100 million homes. Cable and broadband is no longer just a luxury but a necessity if you want to watch television. NBC Sports Network is in over three times the homes of HBO.
Duva, who points out their 80 million subscribers, states, “More people are going to watch these fights than some of the premium [cable] fights, I think, in the end. Look, NBC took the NHL and they took it from the floor to the place where they're paying billions of dollars for the rights. We were doing fights on NBC years ago with the NHL playoff games and getting higher ratings. NBC took the NHL and really built it into something. We're really hoping down the line that this is what will come of this, that they will take their incredible marketing expertise and draw people's attention to it. And, yeah, in the end, I think you can assemble a bigger audience on cable TV than you can on premium cable just because it's in more homes. So that's all part, obviously, of taking baby steps before we run. But down the line, that's what I'm hoping will happen. We've got to come up with a good product and if we do, hopefully, NBC will want to make boxing part of their programming on all of their sports platforms and that would be great for everybody in the end.”
Back in the ‘80s when HBO and, later, Showtime became more entrenched in the boxing business, there blossomed almost a gold rush mentality with promoters as those two entities started dangling license fees that dwarfed what was offered on CBS, NBC and ABC. The pricier boxing became, eventually, the further endangered a species it became on these platforms. However, that paradigm could be changing as the economics of boxing adjust.
“There was a time when HBO was paying, I remember, when Lennox Lewis was fighting, nine, 10 million-dollar rights fees for their regular shows,” recalled Duva, whose company promoted Lewis during his days as a heavyweight champion. “Now, we're down to where they're talking about cutting their budgets down less than the three [million dollars] they were paying last year. So soon, the networks are going to be playing in the same league as HBO again.”
In Duva's opinion, lowered [more realistic] license fees from HBO are actually a good thing for the business of boxing.
“It's a great thing,” she says. “I looked at that UFC event the other night [on FOX]. They got, what, six, seven million homes watching that thing? Fox marketed the hell out of it. They did a really good job and people watched a minute-and-a-half of action on a one-hour broadcast that was presented spectacularly well as far as the way they dressed it up. Well, I don't see why people wouldn't watch a great fight in the same contest.”
Like her promotional colleague, Bob Arum, Duva is hopeful about the future of boxing but how does someone who doesn't boast a Manny Pacquiao view the business moving forward?
“First of all, ‘dying’ is ridiculous. If you look at BoxRec on any given day, they list how many fights there are going on in the world. Dozens of them, all the time. For a sport that's dead, there's an awful lot of it. We're considered a ‘niche’ now. Well, I think almost everything outside of the NFL is a niche. So, in some respects, I agree with Bob. I am incredibly optimistic. This is sort of like being in real estate at the bottom of the market. It's going to go up but then there's days when I'm just completely devastated. But this interest NBC has, that they're taking a look and giving a chance and they're saying, ‘Put on something that's going to be the best show on virtually free television. Don't just give us another cable show- not that there's anything wrong with ESPN or Telemundo or Univision shows- but this is something different. We're going to go a step above that.’ That middle class we've been talking about all the years that doesn't exist, it doesn't exist in boxing as it does the rest of society. That middle class fight that never happens because there just isn't enough money to pay both fighters? That's what we’re going to do. 
“And if people are interested in it, if we do our job right and the fighters step up and decide to put on a great show, again, if we match fighters instead of matching records, then there is the chance the networks will get back into it. They weren't ever going to do it while HBO was paying $10 million a fight. That wasn't going to happen. So as the premium networks start to lower their rights fees, I think it’s certain to open up the possibilities for these other networks that have stayed away for so long.”
And who knows? Maybe back on NBC…
“We're hoping that's where they're going and everybody can see this is obviously something we would all hope would happen,” said a very enthusiastic Duva. “In the end, we have to build an audience here on the network, so that's what our focus is.”
Don't look for any casino settings for these shows on the NBC Sports Network.
“We went there and they said, ‘Tell us what's wrong with boxing.’ We went and said, ‘Well, here some things we see...’ and one of them was the stale atmosphere and what we said was, ‘One of the things we're going to try to do is go out and put fights in arenas where there are motivated fans who are interested in what's going on and it tends to make the fights more exciting. Frankly, it tends to make the fighters fight harder.”
She told the NBC execs about the setting of the Prudential Center when Tomasz Adamek is in action and how it has become a true happening in Newark.
“So they bought into that. They said, ‘OK, well, we don't want to see any hotel ballrooms.’”
No Chumash allowed here.
I've always said I have the most intelligent readers in the sport. This was proven again after this email sent to me by one Brian Swider (the younger brother of Matt Swider-man), who, like his older sibling, flew into New York for the fights last weekend at Madison Square Garden in New York. On the issue of the dueling shows on HBO Pay-Per-View and Showtime and my subsequent comments, Brian wrote:  
After seeing the report of the (dismal) figures for the Showtime card this weekend and the notion that nobody wins with counter-programming, I wanted to give you a slightly wonky counterargument. 

If networks did as some would like and silently agree to not counter-program, or collude, then they would be manipulating the marketplace and creating a de facto monopoly in the US boxing TV market on a given night. Naturally, monopolies create inefficiencies in the market (which is the reason why they are illegal unless heavily regulated [e.g., utilities]). With no threat of competition from the other network, there would be little incentive for providers to maximize the quality of the card and the resulting increase in costs. They are getting the boxing viewer because they do not have alternatives (clearly this assumes boxing viewers are going to watch any boxing; see So Low Boxeo). So, having two cards on the same night, or at least the threat, actually should  improve what we get to see.

Conversely, the only way the consumer does not incur an incremental marginal benefit on a night where two cards are shown live, over and above what they would normally generate in a 'one card' night, would be if the two shows were of equal quality. Then they simply break even. But if these cards were of equal quality, making the shows perfectly substitutable, no one would have bought last week's PPV as the cost of the Showtime card was roughly $55 less. We know this was not the case. This was not the case because Top Rank made sure the two cards were not substitutable entertainment by stacking their card. No Mia St. John or Butterbean allowed. That same motive was be present at Showtime. The main event was paired with an interesting fight between Moreno and Darchinyan. So while yes, individuals were unable to experience both cards live (either via TV or in person) and suffered a loss, each show alone was probably better than it would have been if there was no competition on the date. Thus, if we could only watch 1 card, whether it is because there was only 1 card or because we had to choose between two alternative, the two alternative situation should provide more benefit. That is, each consumer of boxing this past weekend, regardless of the card they viewed/attended, had a greater benefit compared to what they would have received if the other card did not take place. In theory, everyone won more than they would have otherwise. 

Just trying to mix it up. Great seeing the both of you this past weekend. 

No worries,
Brian Swider
Ya’ know, while I still don't like deliberate counterprogramming (as it seems to split an already fractured audience), competition is always a good thing. Perhaps multiple show programming on the same day is actually a sign of health. And as you stated, Brian, if it raises the standards of both cards, well, at the end of the day, the fans win (Besides, this is what TiVo/DVR is for).
It's certainly food for thought.
On his Twitter account on Wednesday, Pawel Wolak (@pawelwolak) made this announcement: “with heavy heart I announce my retirement . u need heart, passion, desire 2 compete, but the mind needs 2 know when it is time. FB has more.”
[Editor’s note: Naturally, the “FB” Wolak was referring to is his personal Facebook account. His status on Wednesday reads: “I am at peace with my decision to retire from boxing. I left it all in the ring and I have absolutely no regrets. I got to do what most people will never be able to and I couldn’t be more proud to have been part of the best sport in the world. I will stay active, busy and in boxing shape as I have done since 17 years old but I hope to help other fighters in the NY area in their careers. The list of people to thank is too long but you all know you are. Thank you to my core team, my family, my friends and the fans who have made me a better husband, man, father, son and fighter. I am forever grateful. Thank you to Top Rank for always having my back and to the boxing media who have always been fair and treated me with respect. I am not going to do any interviews at this time. While I am retiring I am staying under contract for the duration of my contract terms with both Top Rank and my manager Cameron Dunkin. Please direct all questions to Cameron. Onwards and upwards.”]
All I can say is best of luck to Pawel in his future endeavors. He's a guy who got everything out of his ability and never cheated himself or the fans while he fought. He was an honest fighter and hard-working guy who the everyday fan could relate to.
Here is the latest edition of “Maxboxing Radio” with Corey Erdman and Yours Truly: 
The early “ShoBox” schedule is set: Jan. 6th- Luis Ramos vs. Raymundo Beltran, Jan. 20th- John Molina vs. Marvin Quintero and Feb. 3rd- Pierre Olivier Cote vs. Mauricio Herrera...Juan Carlos Burgos faces Cristobal Cruz on the Feb. 24th edition of “Friday Night Fights” on ESPN2...I guess Arte Moreno isn't playing around...Can't wait to see the “30 for 30” on ESPN on Todd Marinovich and his father, Marv...It's funny but it's nearly as cold in SoCal as it was last week in New York...Lem Satterfield of is reporting that a face-off between WBO 130-pound titlist Adrien Broner and Eloy Perez is being focused on for the opening bout when Devon Alexander and Marcos Maidana clash on HBO...Really enjoyed “Fight Camp 360” on Showtime for Carl Froch-Andre Ward...

More of Steve Kim's recent work is linked below his contact information.

I can be reached at and I tweet at We also have a Facebook fan page at
Some more recent news and notes from Steve Kim:
Viloria Finds New Gyms Steve Kim
Houston, We Have B.A.D. Steve Kim
Showtime scraps New Years Eve Show - Plus Julio Cesar Chavez Jr & Nonito Donaire Update SK
“Sharp” Enough for Canastota Steve Kim
Is it Still Showtime on New Years Eve? Steve Kim
Mark 'Too Sharp' Johnson keeps his Boxing Hall of Fame Promise Steve Kim
Fight Day in Gotham City Steve Kim
Boxing Ref for Antonio Margarito vs. Miguel Cotto and more... Steve Kim
Teon Kennedy and Christopher Martin to headline ’Friday Night Fights’ on ESPN2 Steve Kim
Fernando Guerrero added to Amir Khan vs. Lamont Peterson Steve Kim
Abner Mares to Aim High and Away Steve Kim
Antonio Margarito vs Miguel Cotto Fight Week Kicks Off Steve Kim
Blood Sport at the Garden Steve Kim
A New World for Golden Boy? Steve Kim
New TV Boxing Ratings for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr & Manny Pacquiao Steve Kim
Victor Ortiz vs Andre Berto II (HBO vs Showtime is a win-win situation) Steve Kim
Richard Schaefer: "Bob Arum does not want to meet" - Boxing's "Cold War" Continues Steve Kim
Schaefer excited about his Boxing crew of fighters between 140-147 Steve Kim
Boxing Notes: Jorge Arce vs Angky Angkotta, Orlando Salido vs Juan Manuel Lopez II Steve Kim
Black Friday Flurries: Freddie Roach, Adrien Broner, UCLA & more Steve Kim
A “Teremoto” Thanksgiving
Boxing Bits on Donaire, Vazquez, Gamboa, Martinez, Salido, Lopez & Garcia
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. pulls in strong TV ratings - Plus Brandon Rios doubleheader? Steve Kim
Boxing Notes on Ortiz vs Berto II, Kirkland, Rosado, Maidana & Alexander Steve Kim
Boxing Bits on Donaire, Vazquez, Gamboa, Martinez, Salido, Lopez & Garcia Steve Kim
Start Spreading the News Steve Kim
Boxing Flurries, Mike Jones, Vernon Paris, Margarito - Cotto, NBC in Boxing, Povetkin &... Steve Kim
Boxing Blog: Mike Jones vs Sebastian Lujan winner faces Randall Bailey Steve Kim
Boxing Nuggets on Marcos Maidana, Devon Alexander, Antonio DeMarco and Jorge Linares Steve Kim
Victor Ortiz vs Andre Berto II in 2012 Steve Kim
A Game of Chicken Steve Kim
On Standby - Antonio Margarito Steve Kim
Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez Final Aftermath Steve Kim

Don’t forget to check out our new Maxboxing/YouTube videos, courtesy of our outstanding videographer Brian Harty and on-air ace Radio Rahim. The videos feature... Bernard Hopkins on Chad Dawson (, Dawson on Hopkins ( and the press conference touting their upcoming fight on October 15 (

For much more on other stars of Boxing, visit our newswire on the homepage now

NEW: Follow Doghouse Boxing on FaceBook!
For more Boxing News 24/7 and so much more... 
visit our homepage now!

© Copyright / All Rights reserved: Doghouse Boxing Inc. 1998-2011