Last Saturday, I watched the Canelo Alvarez-Avni Yildirim fight for the WBC, WBA, and The Ring super middleweight titles on DAZN. First off, Yildirim had no damn business being in the ring. He basically chicken’d out the entire fight before he retired on the stool ahead of the 3rd round. Second, the presentation sucked. I know Canelo is the biggest name in the sport right now but I just feel like DAZN could’ve done better. Fortunately, for me, I’m not paying their streaming rate since that channel is part of the Amazon Fire Stick hookup I got. But it does have me missing the glory days of boxing when I knew I was getting a good fight and even better presentation when I tuned in on a Saturday night. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: HBO World Championship Boxing.
How I first came across this moment? My introduction to HBO World Championship Boxing was the 1st fight between Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis in 1999. I was kicking it with my father that weekend because I wanted to check out WCW/nWo Uncensored. I ended up watching the undisputed heavyweight championship boxing match the night before with my father and his friends.
What it meant to me then? I remember the presentation being so well done that night. I was only a very casual boxing fan at the time but the way Jim Lampley and George Foreman called it, I felt like I learned a lot about the sport. From that point forward, I started getting more into boxing…eventually moving past my fascination with pro wrestling. As I progressed through the 2000s, I was big into the HBO fights. I’m talking Lewis-Rahman I, Mosley-Forrest I, Sanders-W. Klitschko, Lewis-V. Klitschko, and many others. With the HBO World Championship Boxing broadcasts, I was able to see some of the legends of the sport in their element while also seeing the new blood of the day emerging. That’s where I got my first looks at Jermain Taylor, Sam Peter, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, and my dudes Paul Williams and Chad Dawson. It was just something about watching that telecast with Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant, and Emmanuel Steward and all of the bells and whistles HBO threw out there.
What it means to me now? In the mid-2010s, Showtime Championship Boxing started to emerge as the better option. I suppose they offered more money and really killed a lot of the ridiculous negotiations high-profile boxers engage in as a means of ducking. Their presentation was fresher and I liked the way Al Bernstein analyzed fights. The stuff on regular TV like ESPN Friday Night Fights and Premier Boxing Champions started taking over. Today, HBO World Championship Boxing is no more. The program was discontinued a couple of years back as the price for putting on boxing events has skyrocketed and HBO chose to go another route. I’ll miss it but for the better part of nearly 20 years, it was a good watch on a Saturday night once or twice a month.