After 20 years will Boxing After Dark ever come back to prominence?
By Hector Franco
Looking back at the past 20 years what are your favorite matches that took place on Boxing After Dark?
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Boxing After Dark series for HBO. The series is a landmark for the boxing industry as it has produced some of the greatest bouts in boxing history. When the series was originally introduced to the public it was intended to be a platform for lesser-known fighters and fighters in weight classes that normally wouldn’t get any attention from the networks. The series introduced fighters such as Marco Antonio Barrera and Arturo Gatti to the viewing public.
The series couldn’t have started with a better beginning. The first headlining matchup was the Marco Antonio Barrera-Kennedy McKinney bout. Not only did this bout put a spotlight on the fighters, but on the 122-pound division. The bout more than lived up to expectations and brought Barrera to the forefront as one of the most exciting fighters in the sport.
Afterwards the series followed up with the Arturo Gatti-Wilson Rodriguez bout. Today marks the 20 year anniversary of that bout as well as it took place March 23, 1996. This was Gatti’s first fight on the main stage on HBO. In this bout, Gatti memorably came from behind to knockout Rodriguez in the sixth round. This after it looked like the bout would be stopped due to one of Gatti’s eyes being completely closed. Famously Gatti pulled a fast one over the referee when he was asked by the referee to cover one of his eyes and tell him how many fingers he was holding up. Gatti covered up his closed eye quickly and gave the correct number to the referee from his good eye. Fighter’s like Barrera and Gatti are a rare breed in this day in age. Many pugilists are unwilling to take the risk that these two men were willing to inside the ring. Case in point the recent Frampton-Quigg match up.
The Boxing After Dark series has not been the same for the last few years as it has rarely been part of the HBO schedule. The show has become more about mismatches and showcases rather than competitive match ups. The series has also become more about giving fighters title defenses against weak opposition. An example would be Andre Berto’s entire welterweight title run.
Network rival, Showtime, has taken advantage of HBO’s slump with Boxing After Dark. Showtime has put together a series of their own in, ShoBox, where they highlight young up and coming fighters. This series has been a constant on the Showtime schedule for the last few years.
With a new President leading HBO Sports in Peter Nelson, it’s possible that the Boxing After Dark series will make a comeback in the future. The series has produced more high’s than low’s. It will always be remembered for it’s great fights. As fans let’s take a look back at some of the great fights that we have been a witness to on Boxing After Dark. Take a look at the poll at the bottom of the page and vote for your favorite Boxing After Dark bouts. If there are any that you feel were not mentioned and should have been go ahead and let us know on the poll itself or on social media. We can only hope that a series as great as Boxing After Dark can make a comeback. It will not only be beneficial for HBO’s subscribers but also to build a new fan base. It can be a building block for a younger generation of boxing fans for year’s to come.
Leave a comment below with your favorite Boxing After Dark fight. Make sure to share this post if you found it interesting.