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Heavyweights HBO and ESPN Hook Up

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hbo-ipad-serviceHBO SPORTS® and ESPN ANNOUNCE MULTI-YEAR BOXING PROGRAMMING AND MARKETING AGREEMENT

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INITIATIVE LAUNCHES WITH CHAVEZ JR. VS. MARTINEZ PAY-PER-VIEW EVENT ON SEPT. 15 IN LAS VEGAS

New York, NY – Two of television’s most innovative brands, HBO and ESPN, have announced a multi-year, multi-tiered boxing programming and marketing agreement. The announcement was made today by ESPN’s Marie Donoghue, senior vice president of global business strategy & development, and Mark Taffet, senior vice president of sports operations & pay-per-view, HBO Sports.

“This agreement is a testament to ESPN and HBO’s leadership in the sports media industry,” said Donoghue. “ESPN continues to provide sports fans with greater access to events across various platforms and this agreement further extends our commitment to serve the fan.”

Taffet said: “There is a very deep commitment at HBO to grow the sport of boxing and broaden the exposure for the top fighters and events. This collaboration with ESPN will benefit fight fans that already love the sport, will attract many more sports fans to connect with boxing, and will greatly enhance the visibility of the fighters that are featured in HBO Pay-Per-View events.”

Doug Loughrey, director of programming and acquisitions at ESPN: “This collaboration of efforts and resources will provide boxing and sports fans alike a deeper and more consistent look at boxing’s rising stars and established champions while elevating the sport and our collective boxing platforms.”

The agreement includes coordinated support for major pay-per-view boxing events, including sharing programming content, cross-promotion elements, highlight packages and additional assets to be featured across multiple ESPN and HBO platforms.

As part of the agreement, ESPN and ESPN Deportes’ news and information platforms, led by SportsCenter, will have access to key content and information surrounding marquee HBO Pay-Per-View boxing events, including fighter interviews.

In addition, ESPN Deportes Television and ESPN3-the company’s multiscreen network accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members-will carry live fighter weigh-ins plus pre- and post-fight press conferences for HBO-Pay-Per-View Events, as well as additional boxing content connected to these major pay-per-view events.

ESPN and ESPN Deportes will also televise the HBO all-access series 24/7 leading up to HBO Pay-Per-View fights. Starting this Thursday, Sept. 13, at 9 p.m. ET, ESPN2 will air the two-part 24/7 Chavez Jr. /Martinez back-to-back, immediately before ESPN Boxing: Friday Night Fights Special Edition live from Las Vegas at 10 p.m. In addition, ESPN Deportes’ Golpe a Golpe will preview the Chavez Jr. vs. Martinez fight at 9:00 p.m., while ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna will provide updates from both camps. ESPN Deportes will start televising the series starting with the next HBO Pay-Per View event.

On Saturday, Sept. 15 at 9 p.m. ET from the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, HBO Pay-Per-View will produce and distribute the world middleweight championship fight between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Sergio Martinez.

HBO’s leadership position in boxing began in 1973 and the network has televised more than 875 fights in the past 39 years. HBO Sports produces three boxing series: the flagship World Championship Boxing® franchise, the late-night enterprise Boxing After Dark®, and HBO Pay-Per-View®.

Additionally, HBO Sports introduced boxing's first reality franchise with the launch of 24/7 in 2007. The acclaimed series has earned 16 Sports Emmy Awards® in its first five seasons on the air.

ESPN is home to ESPN’s Friday Night Fights and ESPN Deportes’ Viernes de Combates (Spanish version), a weekly boxing series which runs between January and August and showcases some of the best bouts in the boxing industry. The series, which began on October 2, 1998, recently concluded its 15th season. ESPN began televising boxing on April 10, 1980 when weekly boxing returned to television for the first time since 1964, with the debut of Top Rank Boxing on ESPN.

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura

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The WBC World Super Featherweight title bout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura came on one of the biggest boxing stages of 2015, as the bout served as the HBO pay-per-view’s co-main event on November 21st, in support of Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez.

Miura entered the fight with a (29-2-2) record and he was making the fifth defense of his world title, while Vargas entered the fight with an undefeated mark of (22-0-1) in what was his first world title fight. Both men had a reputation for all-out fighting, with Miura especially earning high praise for his title defense in Mexico where he defeated Sergio Thompson in a fiercely contested battle.

The fight started out hotly contested, and the intensity never let up. Vargas seemed to win the first two rounds, but by the fourth round, Miura seemed to pull ahead, scoring a knock-down and fighting with a lot of confidence. After brawling the first four rounds, Miura appeared to settle into a more technical approach. Rounds 5 and 6 saw the pendulum swing back towards Vargas, as he withstood Miura’s rush to open the fifth round and the sixth round saw both men exchanging hard punches.

The big swinging continued, and though Vargas likely edged Miura in rounds 5 and 6, Vargas’ face was cut in at least two spots and Miura started to assert himself again in rounds 7 and 8. Miura was beginning to grow in confidence while it appeared that Vargas was beginning to slow down, and Miura appeared to hurt Vargas at the end of the 8th round.

Vargas turned the tide again at the start of the ninth round, scoring a knock down with an uppercut and a straight right hand that took Miura’s legs and sent him to the canvas. Purely on instinct, Miura got back up and continued to fight, but Vargas was landing frequently and with force. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at the halfway point of round 9 as Miura was sustaining a barrage of punches.

Miura still had a minute and a half to survive if he was going to get out of the round, and it was clear that he was not going to stop fighting.

A back and forth battle of wills between two world championship level fighters, Takashi Miura versus “El Bandido” Vargas wins the 2015 Fight of the Year.

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Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score

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This coming Saturday, January 9th, the stage is set at the Baden Arena in Offenburg, Germany for a re-match between Vincent Feigenbutz and Giovanni De Carolis. The highly anticipated re-match is set to air on SAT.1 in Germany, and Feigenbutz will once again be defending his GBU and interim WBA World titles at Super Middleweight.

The first meeting between the two was less than three months ago, on October 17th and that meeting saw Feigenbutz controversially edge De Carolis on the judge’s cards by scores of (115-113, 114-113 and 115-113). De Carolis scored a flash knock down in the opening round, and he appeared to outbox Feigenbutz in the early going, but the 20 year old German champion came on in the later rounds.

The first bout is described as one of the most crowd-pleasing bouts of the year in Germany, and De Carolis and many observers felt that the Italian had done enough to win.

De Carolis told German language website RAN.DE that he was more prepared for the re-match, and that due to the arrogance Feigenbutz displayed in the aftermath of the first fight, he was confident that he had won over some of the audience. Though De Carolis fell short of predicting victory, he promised a re-vamped strategy tailored to what he has learned about Feigenbutz, whom he termed immature and inexperienced.

The stage is set for Feigenbutz vs De Carolis 2, this Saturday January 9th in Offenburg, Germany. If you can get to the live event do it, if not you have SAT.1 in Germany airing the fights, and The Boxing Channel right back here for full results.

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2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland

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On May 9th of 2015, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivered a resonant knock-out of James Kirkland on HBO that wins the 2015 KO of the Year.

The knock-out itself came in the third round, after slightly more than two minutes of action. The end came when Alvarez delivered a single, big right hand that caught Kirkland on the jaw and left him flat on his back after spinning to the canvas.Alvarez was clearly the big star heading into the fight. The fight was telecast by HBO for free just one week after the controversial and disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight, and Alvarez was under pressure to deliver the type of finish that people were going to talk about. Kirkland was happy to oblige Alvarez, taking it right to Alvarez from the start. Kirkland’s aggression saw him appear to land blows that troubled the young Mexican in the early going. Alvarez played good defense, and he floored Kirkland in the first round, displaying his power and his technique in knocking down an aggressive opponent.

However, Kirkland kept coming at Alvarez and the fight entered the third round with both men working hard and the feeling that the fight would not go the distance. Kirkland continued to move forward, keeping “Canelo” against the ropes and scoring points with a barrage of punches while looking for an opening.

At around the two minute mark, Alvarez landed an uppercut that sent Kirkland to the canvas again. Kirkland got up, but it was clear that he did not have his legs under him. Kirkland was going to try to survive the round, but Alvarez had an opportunity to close out the fight. The question was would he take it?

Alvarez closed in on Kirkland, putting his opponent’s back to the ropes. Kirkland was hurt, but he was still dangerous, pawing with punches and loading up for one big shot.

But it was the big shot “Canelo” threw that ended the night. Kirkland never saw it coming, as he was loading up with a huge right hand of his own. The right Alvarez threw cracked Kirkland in the jaw, and his eyes went blank. His big right hand whizzed harmlessly over the head of a ducking Alvarez, providing the momentum for the spin that left Kirkland prone on the canvas.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went on to defeat Miguel Cotto in his second fight of 2015 and he is clearly one of boxing’s biggest stars heading into 2016. On May 9th Alvarez added another reel to his highlight film when he knocked out James Kirkland with the 2015 “Knock Out of the Year”.

Photo by naoki fukuda

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