Golden Boy, CBS still plan fall showcase for U.S. boxers despite losses
August 10, 2012 10:06 AM
|USA Boxing's failure to win any men's medals in London hasn't dissuaded Golden Boy Promotions and CBS from televising the pro debuts of U.S. boxers.
In July, Golden Boy announced plans to sign an unspecified number of fighters from the Games, backed by a commitment from CBS and Showtime to put them on the air. CBS is holding Oct. 15 and Dec. 15 as air dates, with Showtime handling production.
Two of three women on the U.S. team won medals, with middleweight Claressa Shields winning gold on Thursday and flyweight Marlen Esparza claiming bronze. But the nine U.S. men all were eliminated short of the semifinals.
“Certainly, it would have been good for the country and for our network if they had been a little more successful,” said Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager of Showtime Sports. “But that doesn’t change our programming approach. The team still represents the cream of the crop of young U.S. boxers. And participating in the Olympics is still an achievement.”
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer was in London this week to scout and, presumably, recruit talent. Schaefer said last week that he didn’t want to discuss further plans until after the Games.
Schaefer made it clear before he headed to London that he was interested not only in American talent, but in others. The company has deep promotional ties in Mexico and also promotes British star Amir Kahn, a silver medalist in 2004. Four fighters from Great Britain’s team remained alive entering the semifinals. But no boxers from Mexico, Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic — three Spanish-speaking countries that are most likely to produce fighters who are marketable in the U.S. — made it to the semis.
While Showtime and CBS are willing to air Olympians who hail from outside the U.S., the network’s commitment is based around the Americans. They announced the deal before the Games in the hope that it would percolate interest among fight fans.
“We were hoping that the idea of seeing these Olympians make their debut on CBS stuck with people while they were following the Olympic Games,” Espinoza said. “So if somebody caught their eye, we would have the seed of an idea germinating; a hint that this was coming. We wanted people to anticipate their pro debuts.”
The Olympians’ debuts will mark the first time boxing has aired live on CBS since 1998. NBC is scheduled to air its first pro fight card since 2004 in December.