Showtime delivers on upcoming boxing schedule
By Hector Franco
October 26, 2016
Earlier this week Showtime Sports made an announcement showing what they will have available to their subscribers to end 2016 and start 2017. The schedule that was produced is impressive. It will feature six title fights including one of the most anticipated match-ups in one of boxing's, glamor divisions.
The announcement came as a relief to boxing fans as Showtime hasn’t produced a show since July 30th. That was the featherweight bout between Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton. Since then there have been a few shows on ShoBox featuring fighters like Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller. Showtime along with HBO has gone completely absent of fights in August and October. The second half of 2016 has had its moments but they have been too few and far between.
The first card to end the year 2016 for Showtime will feature a double header. It will also signify the return of Richard Schaeffer to the boxing landscape. Schaeffer hasn’t been seen since his falling out with Golden Boy Promotions as it was found that he was siphoning fighters directly to Al Haymon.
The card will take place at the USC Galen Center in Los Angeles, California on December 10th. On the undercard, it will feature Jesus Cuellar (28-1, 21 KOs) defending his WBA featherweight title against Abner Mares (29-2-1, 15 KOs). The fight was supposed to take place this past June on the Thurman-Porter card in Brooklyn until Mares came up ill and unable to compete. The fight is somewhat of a crossroads fight as Mares will unlikely receive another title shot if he loses. Cuellar will be facing the best fighter of his career with the most experience.
The main event will feature Jermall Charlo (24-0, 18 KOs) facing Julian “J-Rock” Willaims (22-0-1,14 KOs) for the IBF 154-pound title. This fight has been in the works for what seems like all of 2016. It was first proposed to be taking place in October and for unknown reasons it never came to fruition. Regardless, the fight is one of the best that can be made at 154-pounds. Williams will finally get his shot at a top opponent and Charlo can prove he is the best in the division with a win.
Showtime will open 2017 with two huge cards in January. The first will be a unification championship fight at 168 pounds. WBC champion Badou Jack (20-1, 12 KOs) will face IBF champion James Degale (23-1, 14 KOs) from the UK. This fight features the top two fighters at 168 and will provide a clear No.1 fighter in the division. The two men last fought in April in Washington D.C. against common opponents, Lucian Bute and Rogelio Medina. Both men looked sharp in those fights although Jack was relegated to a draw with Bute. Most had Jack winning the fight wide and clear. Later it was found that Bute had been taking performance enhancing drugs after a failed drug test. The fight should provide fireworks. A venue for the fight has yet to be determined.
The next card on January 28th will have the highly anticipated rematch between Carl Frampton (23-0, 14 KOs) and Leo Santa Cruz (31-1-1, 18 KOs). It will be for the WBA "Super" featherweight world title. The first fight took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York and is a fight of the year candidate for 2016. A venue hasn’t been set for the rematch although boxrec.com has the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada listed for the fight.
On the undercard, Mikey Garcia (35-0, 29 KOs) will make his foray back into title contention. His opponent will be WBC lightweight champion, Dejan Zlaticanin (18-0, 11 KOs). Zlaticanin was able to win the title after Jorge Linares vacated the title earlier this year to face Anthony Crolla. The hope for fans is for Garcia to face the other champions at lightweight like Linares should he come out victorious. The Oxnard, California native has been out of the sport for the past two years and only just recently resurfaced this past July. The fight with Zlaticanin will show fans how much Garcia has left in his career.
In February, Showtime will feature the return of the controversial Adrien Broner (32-2, 24 KOs). Broner has been in legal issues for much of 2016 and has only stepped in the ring once this year against Ashley Theophane this past April. The kid from Cincinnati, Ohio will be facing Adrian Granados (18-4-2, 12 KOs). Granados is best known for stopping Amir Imam in November 2015. Granados just like Broner has only fought once in 2016. The fight puts Broner in a must-win situation as another loss could relegate him to gatekeeper status in the 140-pound division.
The final fight that was put on the schedule by Showtime may be it’s most anticipated. It will feature WBC welterweight champion, Danny Garcia (32-0, 18 KOs) taking on WBA welterweight champion, Keith “One Time” Thurman (27-0, 22 KOs). Garcia does have a fight taking place on November 12th against Samuel Vargas in Pennsylvania. If Garcia comes out victorious then the fight with Thurman will be all set. Thurman was last seen in the ring against Shawn Porter this past June in Brooklyn, New York. The fight was one of the best to take place this year and seemed to elevate both fighters. Garcia before he faces Samuel Vargas and possibly Thurman last fought in January against Robert Guerrero where he won the vacant WBC welterweight title.
The two men have taken verbal jabs against one another on social media. Garcia-Thurman is the biggest fight that can be made in the Premier Boxing Champion landscape, as it will feature it's two most heavily promoted fighters. The fight is scheduled to take place on March 4, 2017.
With this schedule lineup, Showtime has shown that its interest in boxing is still highly important. All of the fights scheduled are evenly matched with the potential to provide great back and forth action. 2016 has been a somewhat forgettable and transitional year for boxing. Showtime with this lineup guarantees that 2017 will be better and one to remember.
(Featured Photo: Showtime Sports)