When it looked like the emergence of the Premier Boxing Champions of Al Haymon had given the Showtime’s network boxing program a serious blow, late last week Stephen Espinoza, their boxing czar, revealed their schedule for spring and early summer. Beginning in early April Showtime will begin broadcasting a serious of interesting fights that will give HBO, longtime the biggest platform of the sport, a run for its money.
First up on April 9th from the 02 Arena in London, England, Showtime will be broadcasting the first defense of the newly minted IBF heavyweight champion Charles Martin. Martin will be taking on the up and coming challenger Anthony Joshua who to some is the future of the heavyweight division. With only fifteen fights under his professional belt, although all ended before the distance, Joshua might be taking a big step up but Martin is considered the weakest of the current champions. This fight will go against the third fight between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley on HBO Pay-Per-View.
On April 19th we will finally see the return of WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell who will defend his title against Patrick Hyland. Of all the fights that were announced, this might be the weakest one on paper.
After Julio Cesar Chavez Jr announced he hurt his left heel and he wished to have the proposed fight between him and WBC super middleweight champion Badou Jack pushed back three weeks, Jack and company weren’t too keen and some days after announced this fight against former champion Lucian Bute. This has fireworks written all over it with Bute having a good change capturing another title.
Although not official but on the docket, it looks like WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder will defend his title against Alexander Povetkin in Russia. Obviously going to the former soviet country wasn’t Wilder’s first choice but Povetkin’s Russian promoter out-bid Lou Dibella with over two million dollars. Now Wilder must pack his bags and take on the Russian who many see as the favorite.
Another fight which doesn’t have an official date on the network but according to Espinoza both fighters have agreed to the fight verbally would be the WBA featherweight defense between champion Leo Santa Cruz and IBF and WBA super bantamweight champion Carl Frampton. By the looks of it Frampton will not look to defend her titles in a rematch against Scott Quigg or with Guillermo Rigondeaux as expected but instead will go up and challenge Santa Cruz more than likely in the United States although he did mention he would like the fight in Dublin.
On June 11th a blood bath will be broadcast on the network between John Molina Jr and Ruslan Provodnikov while the rematch between WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter was rescheduled for June 25th. What wasn’t rescheduled for that night was the Abner Mares against Fernando Montiel which was the semi-main event on the original date of March 12th. Now Mares will challenge for the WBA featherweight title against Jesus Cuellar.
Quite a schedule of fights in the next couple of months. Let us just hope this announcement has motivated for HBO to try to match.