Back In The Ring: NBC's Next Boxing Telecast Set For April 20
Heavyweight boxing returns to the air on NBC for the second time in four months on April 20 when Steve Cunningham faces popular Brit Tyson Fury in the main event of a two-hour telecast scheduled for the Theater at MSG that promoter Main Events announced today. Cunningham lost a controversial decision to Tomasz Adamek on NBC in December in what was the first bout to appear on the network since ‘04. The two-hour telecast attracted an average of 1.6 million viewers, peaking at 3.2 million at its conclusion. “The core boxing fan came back,” said NBC VP/Programming & Owned Properties Gary Quinn. “The (average) household rating was pretty solid ... and we built an audience as it went on. That’s a sign of a compelling show.” The fight is part of two-year deal in which Main Events will deliver at least eight fights to NBC Sports Network and two to NBC each year. The next NBC slot is scheduled for November. The selection of Fury makes financial sense for Main Events. The late afternoon time slot allows the promoter to deliver a primetime show in Great Britain, where Fury’s recent fights have aired on terrestrial television. “We’re trying to give the heavyweight division as much exposure as we can,” Quinn said, “Because that’s what we think people want to see” (Bill King, Senior Writer).
ROCKETTES BEWARE: ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael noted Top Rank yesterday announced that junior featherweight champion Nonito Donaire will face fellow titleholder Guillermo Rigondeaux on April 13 in the main event of HBO's "World Championship Boxing" at Radio City Music Hall in N.Y. The fight will be “just the second in the 82-year history of Radio City Music Hall,” after Roy Jones Jr. “defended the light heavyweight world title there” against David Telesco in January '00. Top Rank Chair Bob Arum said he "couldn't get" the Theater at Madison Square Garden, so MSG Exec VP/Sports & Arena Renovation Joel Fisher "said maybe he could get Radio City, because the Garden owns it. We said that was a great idea. It's expensive to do a fight there, but it's worth it" (ESPN.com, 2/19).