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Fight Night Provides Springboard

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This Saturday night from the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, the latest installment of the “Fight Night” series on the NBC Sports Network (10:30 p.m., ET) takes place. It’s a tripleheader featuring middleweight Curtis Stevens, cruiserweight Eddie Chambers and heavyweight Tomasz Adamek. This series, which began in January of 2012, has provided two things on a consistent basis: solid entertainment and a springboard for boxers to go and perform on bigger (and more lucrative) platforms.
 
This past weekend, Jesus Soto Karass, who was stopped in the debut of this series by Gabriel Rosado, continued his resurgence by upsetting Andre Berto in San Antonio in the main event on Showtime. This didn’t go unnoticed by the head of Main Events, Kathy Duva, who said it warmed her heart to see a boxer who wasn’t her client do significant things after appearing on the NBCSN series.

“Yes it does and y’ know, when we started out, we said we were going to use fighters who weren’t just ours and he fits that description,” she told Maxboxing. “We said no one losing a fight makes people never want to see them again. I’m happy to see he got more opportunities even though we weren’t the ones that gave it to him. It is a testament to [matchmaker J.] Russell Peltz’s eye for talent and he’s the one who made that first fight. I think it’s wonderful that the guy who lost on the very first match on the first show just scored a huge upset.
 
“It was his third appearance on premium cable, by the way.”
 
Soto Karass faced Marcos Maidana and Selcuk Aydin on Showtime after appearing on the NBC Sports Network.

“And there are others there at last count, 10 guys who have either been on or about to be on premium cable or about whom I’ve had very serious discussions and I expect they will be in the next six months,” said Duva, who added, “When you think about the series and how little time - we’ve only had 18 months at this point - that we’ve been on the air, 12 shows and 10 people already.”
 
Rosado has appeared on both Showtime and HBO. Sergey Kovalev rode the momentum of frequent exposure to land an August 17th HBO appearance versus WBO light heavyweight titlist Nathan Cleverly. Other boxers such as Antwone Smith, Zab Judah, Sergei Liakhovich made returns to premium cable and will be doing so in the upcoming weeks. Bryant Jennings, Adamek and Stevens could be appearing on HBO in the upcoming months.
 
The series (which has also broadcast two cards on NBC) gives fighters good exposure and, more importantly, in an era when boxers don’t always have opportunities to stay active, a chance to fight on a consistent basis.
 
There are still some who criticize the series but any harsh critiques of “Fight Night” are unfair given that its budget is just a fraction of what HBO and Showtime dole out in terms of a license fee. Duva points out, “In certain cases, it’s 10 percent of less of what a premium cable gets.”
 
Duva, however, says she isn’t flustered by the criticisms. In fact, she’s flattered.
 
“I don’t get frustrated because they’re commenting. They care. It’s a wonderful thing. The more fans we have that care that much, that take the time to say something, it’s OK,” she says. “I don’t mind that they don’t understand and I don’t feel persecuted or anything because I feel like it’s not their job to understand what I have to go through nor should they have to care. It comes with the territory and I’m just happy somebody is paying attention, so it doesn’t bother me. There are times when I read something and I want to answer in the snarkiest way possible but I just don’t.”
 
This weekend’s broadcast is the first in a very long time in which Main Events and the network don’t have to contend with another boxing broadcast taking place on that same night.

“Finally!” exclaimed Duva, laughing before pointing out. “Of course, it’s August when TV viewership is at the lowest for everyone. But we’re getting a lot of attention, so I think the people who are boxing fans, hopefully, they are going to stay in and watch the show. Hopefully, we’ll see. It’s pressure; on one hand, it’s great. On the other hand, ‘Oh my God; we better deliver.’ So we have a terrific show and feel really good about it.
 
“It’s a strong show. Every fight is strong for one reason or another and I think everyone is going to enjoy it. Hopefully, a lot of people watch.”
 
STEVENS-GGG?
 
Stevens who faces Saul Roman on Saturday night, with a strong outing, could be in line to face the highly-touted Gennady Golovkin on November 2nd at the Theater on Madison Square Garden on HBO. Stevens has made it very clear he is more than willing to take on that task.
 
But is Main Events willing to pull the trigger?
 
Duva says, “I love that we have a fighter who wants to fight absolutely anyone and everyone. I think that’s wonderful. That’s kinda the requirement we have when we sign people, so Curtis fits in beautifully. Our job here is to be smart about when we make those decisions when those fights happen. His job is to want to fight. We’ll see what happens.”
 
What might concern Duva is that in his last three bouts (where he has been matched carefully), Stevens has gotten in just 10 innings. Roman was chosen because they believe he will give Stevens some quality rounds and everyone else an inkling of where Stevens really is.
 
“I don’t ever want to make a judgment about who [Stevens] fights next when he’s got someone standing in front of him. Much as he’s talking Golovkin, I hope he’s focusing in on the guy in front of him.”
 
When asked if the perfect scenario for Stevens would be to face Golovkin in early 2014, after another fight or two, Duva answered last week, “It’s a debate and there’s two sides of it. One is Curtis is a very, very heavy-handed fighter, a very big puncher. And look, Golovkin is amazing but everyone can see some holes in his defense. Do you give Golovkin more time to get better? Or do you focus on how much time Curtis needs to be ready to fight him? That’s something that, again, he’s got a week away and we don’t have to make any decisions till then.
 
“If we see something on the third of August that tells us, ‘Yeah, well, he’s ready,’ then there’s an argument on the side of going forward.”
 
FIGHT NIGHT FUTURE
 
So is this series secure for 2014?
 
“We’ve got our dates for the first half of 2014 already. So we’re starting to plan on that and we expect to get our dates for the second half of 2014 soon,” said Duva, who intimated that there could be a few more shows next year in addition to NBC doing another card or two.
 
SOTO KARASS ON EARTH
 
Speaking of Soto Karass, here’s an article I wrote on him for SportsOnEarth.com:
 
 
SEPT 6TH
 
Word is that on September 6th, the heavyweight bout between Seth Mitchell and Chris Arreola will take place at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino near Palm Springs. Also on that Showtime broadcast, we’ll see Rafael Marquez facing Efrain Esquivias and Josesito Lopez against Aaron Martinez.
 
Also, the bout between Victor Ortiz and Alfonso Gomez, slated to take place sometime in September, is a no-go with Ortiz now getting a role in the movie, “The Expendables 3,” I’m told.
 
TRAINING CAMP FLURRIES
 
 
Sergio Mora has inked a promotional pact with Lou DiBella. The plan is for Mora to fight two more times before the end of the year...Look for San Antonio to host a card on Fox Sports One on September 2nd...Top Rank has signed Chinese lightweight IK Yang, who has some ability...There will be a fight between Juan Manuel Marquez and Tim Bradley on Oct. 12th, right? RIGHT?!...So will Percy Harvin play for the Seattle Seahawks this year?...OK, “The Newsroom” is finally picking up steam...I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.
 


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