In a little more than one year since it was introduced, the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) series has been a game changer for the sport of Boxing. Not only has the series been responsible for successfully bringing back the sport to primetime over the air (OTA) broadcast television, but it has also succeeded in bringing television networks from both broadcast and cable television together with the goal of putting on the best fights possible for Boxing fans.
There have been several competitive fights that have taken place thus far as part of the Premier Boxing Champions series and on Saturday the series will stage three separate cards on three separate networks in the United States, which have the makings of what could be an action-packed day for Boxing fans. The first of the three headline bouts will take place at the O2 Arena in London, England as undefeated newly crowned International Boxing Federation (IBF) Heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua makes the first defense of his world championship against undefeated IBF number nine rated contender Dominic Breazeale in a fight that will air on Showtime in the United States.
Joshua, who won the IBF world championship with a second round knockout of Charles Martin in April of this year, now climbs back into the ring nearly three months later to make the first defense of his world championship. On one hand, it is somewhat refreshing to see a world champion back in the ring so soon after winning the title in an era where some of the biggest marquee draws the sport has to offer only compete maybe once or twice in a calendar year. On the other hand, some might question if he is getting back in the ring too soon after winning the championship, despite not facing much resistance from the man whom he took the title from Charles Martin. The champion Joshua is by definition a knockout artist, who has compiled sixteen consecutive knockouts in as many fights as a professional.
The new champion and 2012 Olympic Super-Heavyweight gold medalist now prepares to defend his title for the first time against a fighter who is also undefeated and equally dangerous in top contender Dominic Breazeale. Breazeale will come into this fight off of a fifth round stoppage of Amir Mansour in January of this year. An argument can be made that the result of that fight was to some degree “Inconclusive” due to Mansour suffering an injury to his tongue when he accidentally nearly bit it in half in the second round, which ultimately would cause the fight to be stopped at the conclusion of the fifth round in a fight that most observers, including this one, felt that Mansour was winning at the time of the stoppage.
Breazeale however, did answer the question that is asked of knockout artists of whether he can take a punch as he was able to get up from a knockdown at the hands Mansour in the third round of that fight and regardless of the “Inconclusive” nature in which the fight was stopped, he did show the ability to cope with adversity and did leave the ring victorious. The fight between Joshua and Breazeale is likely the first in significant history of the Heavyweight division where two fighters will do battle for a version of the World Heavyweight championship with both entering the ring having fought under twenty fights as professionals.
The unique statistic notwithstanding, this fight does pit two “Knockout Artists” against each other. The champion entering with a perfect career knockout percentage of 100% and the challenger entering with a career knockout percentage of 88%, each fighter similar in height and reach at 6’6 with an 82 inch reach and 6’7 with an 81 inch reach respectively. Although the champion does have the recent experience of fighting for a world championship in front of a sold-out crowd, questions are obviously still being asked of how good Joshua’s chin is and whether or not he can deal with adversity in a fight.
A Boxing fan of any description could describe the anticipation of this fight based on statistics in one word “Fireworks!” It will be interesting to see if the anticipated “Shootout” between two hard-hitting Heavyweights lives up to the anticipation when Joshua and Breazeale meet in London on Saturday night.
The second headline bout taking place as part of this unique PBC Boxing tripleheader of sorts will be a battle for the WBA Welterweight world championship as undefeated champion Keith Thurman defends his title against former IBF Welterweight world champion Shawn Porter at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Thurman-Porter will make history as the first main event of a Boxing card to air in primetime on CBS in the United States in more than thirty-eight years when Leon Spinks scored a shocking upset to win the unified WBC/WBA Heavyweight world championship from Muhammad Ali via fifteen round split decision on February 15, 1978. Much like Joshua-Breazeale, Thurman-Porter figures to be an action-packed encounter between two of the best that the Welterweight division has to offer.
For Thurman, who will be entering this fight for the first time as full WBA world champion following the retirement of Floyd Mayweather, after previously holding interim/regular champion status in the WBA’s Welterweight ratings now sees that distinction recognized as a full championship reign and will be making his third title defense. In his last fight in July of last year Thurman stopped former WBA world champion Luis Collazo in seven rounds.
Thurman is an all-action fighter who is almost always an exciting fight. The unbeaten world champion has the distinction of being part of the first main event in the history of the Premier Boxing Champions series when he defeated former three-division world champion Robert Guerrero in March of last year in what was the first primetime Boxing event broadcast on NBC in nearly 30 years. The champion now finds itself in the unique position of also bringing Boxing back to primetime on CBS.
Much as was the case in his battle against Robert Guerrero, Thurman’s opponent on this occasion is likely to provide the champion with all he can handle in the form of former IBF world champion Shawn Porter. Porter, who reigned as champion from 2013-2014 is also an all-action fighter. Porter has won two straight fights since losing his world championship to Kell Brook in August 2014. In his last fight, Porter scored a dominant twelve round unanimous decision over former four-division world champion Adrien Broner in June of last year.
In thinking of how this fight might be fought, this observer came up with two different scenarios. When you have two fighters who are both offensive-minded and could be labeled as “Offense-First”, the possibility certainly exists that a tactical Boxing match fought at a quick pace could develop. It is quite possible that both fighters have a healthy respect for their opponent’s punching power and that could lead to a tactical chess match. Both fighters have demonstrated the ability to get an opponent out of there should the opportunity present itself as the champion Thurman has stopped twenty-two of his twenty-six opponents as a professional registering a career knockout percentage of 81%, while the challenger Porter has stopped sixteen of his twenty-eight opponents as a professional registering a career knockout percentage of nearly 58%.
Although based on percentages it might give the appearance that Thurman has an edge in terms of his ability to knock an opponent out, it is important to remember that Porter is a fighter who lets his hands go from the opening bell and has solid hand speed. Porter has also demonstrated the ability to outwork an opponent over the course of a fight as he did against Adrien Broner and Devon Alexander, but has also shown that he has punching power as he showed in his brutal fourth round knockout over two-division world champion Paul Malignaggi in April 2014.
The second scenario that came to mind in thinking about this fight was one that may start out as a tactical Boxing/chess match, but eventually turn into a “Shootout” due to both fighters willingness to let their hands go and neither being willing to take a backward step. Of course, the possibility definitely exists that both fighters could simply go to war from the outset and much like the Joshua-Breazeale bout, it may simply come down to who is able to land the first significant punch that may ultimately determine who wins the fight. It is certainly a fight that on paper has the look of a candidate for 2016 Fight Of The Year. Whether or not the action-packed fight Thurman-Porter figures to be on paper is what takes place when the two fighters square off remains to be seen.
The final bout in this tripleheader of sorts as part of what this observer refers to as “PBC Saturday” will feature a ten round Jr. Middleweight bout between rising prospects Justin DeLoach and Junior Castillo at the Scottish Rite Theatre in San Antonio, TX in the main event of a card broadcast by NBC Sports Network in the United States. DeLoach, who will enter the fight having won fourteen of fifteen fights as a professional will come into the fight on a four fight winning streak and having scored knockouts in two of those four wins including in his last fight in March of this year in scoring a fourth round knockout over Dillon Cook in Miami, Oklahoma. DeLoach’s opponent on Saturday night will come in the form of unbeaten 2012 Olympian and knockout artist Junior Castillo.
Castillo, who represented the Dominican Republic in the 2012 London Olympics, is unbeaten as a professional having scored knockouts in nine of his ten career victories. A unique dynamic of the Premier Boxing Champions series is that the series across several networks on both broadcast and cable television showcases various levels of the sport from fighters competing at the highest level for world championships, to fighters in the process of a comeback, to finally prospects on the rise looking to establish themselves as contenders in the sport.
This fight between Justin DeLoach and Junior Castillo is one where both fighters are rising prospects and looking to make the next step in the respective careers. Although both fighters are similar in terms of their standing as prospects currently, an argument could be made that Castillo is a fighter with slightly more experience due to his competing in the Olympics. By the same token, DeLoach has shown in his career that he can go the distance having fought in two fights that went as long as six rounds and earned unanimous decisions in those fights that went the full six round distance. Castillo meanwhile, showed in his last fight that he can go the distance himself as Kyrone Davis became the first fighter to extend him to the distance in a fight that was scheduled for eight rounds.
The majority of Castillo’s ten professional fights however, have lasted under four rounds and he has gone as many as five rounds only twice in his career thus far. What makes the question of going the distance relevant for not only Castillo, but both fighters is that this is the first fight for both with a scheduled distance of ten rounds. It will be interesting to see how each fighter reacts to the exposure of the Premier Boxing Champions series and if DeLoach can find a way to extend Castillo into the middle and late rounds if he will be able to go the distance against a fighter who has demonstrated knockout power thus far in his short career. An equally interesting question as this fight approaches is given that this fight is scheduled for distance of ten rounds, will Castillo look to pace himself with the anticipation of possibly having to go the distance, or if he will look to find an opening and if one present itself take advantage of it by looking to stop DeLoach early. It is worth noting that Castillo has four first round knockouts in his ten wins and has a career knockout percentage of 90%. This could set up a classic scenario of a boxer in DeLoach against the puncher in Castillo as DeLoach has scored eight knockouts in his fourteen career victories and is logical to assume that he will look to box Castillo from the outset. It will be interesting whether DeLoach or Castillo will be able to take the next step forward in their career.
This tripleheader of sorts presented by the Premier Boxing Champions series across three different networks all strategically scheduled to follow each other rather than going head to head against each other offers a little bit of everything. From two knockout artists meeting for a portion of the World Heavyweight championship, to two all-action fighters meeting for a world championship in one of Boxing’s most deep and competitive divisions, in a fight that will make history by ending a thirty-eight year drought for primetime Boxing on CBS, to two fighters looking to establish themselves as future contenders. If these events as well as their respective undercard bouts are as entertaining and intriguing as they appear to be on paper, Saturday, June 25, 2016 will be remembered as a great day for not only Boxing fans, but more importantly the sport as the Premier Boxing Champions series continues to change the game and put on the best fights possible for the ultimate authority, the Boxing fans…
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
PBC: Joshua vs. Breazeale takes place Saturday, June 25th at the O2 Arena in London, England. The fight can be seen in the United States on Showtime at 5:15 PM ET/2:15 PM PT. Check your cable or satellite provider or the Showtime and Showtime Anytime apps for more information. For more information about Showtime please visit: www.sho.com. In the United Kingdom, the fight will be broadcast on pay-per-view on Sky Box Office for €16.95 Standard Definition/€21.95 HD and will begin at 7 PM (Local UK Time) check your local cable or satellite provider for ordering information. Check your listings internationally.
PBC: Thurman vs. Porter takes place Saturday, June 25th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. The fight can be seen in the United States on CBS as well as the CBS All Access streaming service at 9 PMET/6PM PT. Check your local listings for time and channel in your area Check your listings internationally. For more information on CBS and CBS All Access please visit: www.cbs.com and www.cbs.com/allaccess.
PBC: DeLoach vs. Castillo takes place Saturday, June 25th at the Scottish Rite Theatre in San Antonio, TX. The fight can be seen on NBC Sports Network as well as the NBC Sports Live Extra app at 11 PM ET/8 PM PT. Check your local cable or satellite provider for time and channel in your area. For more information on NBC Sports and NBC Sports Live Extra please visit. www.nbcsports.com and www.nbcsports.com/liveextra
For more information on the Premier Boxing Champions series please visit: www.premierboxingchampions.com
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