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Thurman and Guerrero save PBC from being average

Photo © German Villasenor
Photo © German Villasenor

By John J. Raspanti

In a sense, I hate my headline. 
When Al Hayman announced the debut of a series of high-profile fights on national television, I was thrilled. 
Boxing and TV have had a relationship with each other for over sixty years. On September 23, 1952, the Gillette Safety Razor Company presented the Rocky Marciano vs. Jersey Joe Walcott on NBC. Sugar Ray Robinson, Archie Moore, Willie Pep, and Rocky Graziano all appeared on Gillette’s Friday night boxing series. 
CBS had the Wednesday Night Fights--while ABC joined the fray with their own series a few years later on Sunday nights. Viewing these fights now is like watching an old Twilight Zone episode.  But that’s the point. 

They’re gritty as hell.  
In the 1970s, ABC had Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell. CBS aired some tremendous matchups in the 80s. Both stations focused on the fighters and stayed away from unnecessary flamboyance.    


Nowadays, with super technology so mainstream, directors often feel that they have to give the fans something spectacular. NBC had been touting their 360-degree camera for weeks, which was supposed to show the action from multiple sides. Instead, it was rarely used, and when it was, it didn’t add much to the broadcast. 


Still, Saturday night’s debut of Premier Boxing Champions did have its high points. 
The main event, featuring young hotshot Keith Thurman, and warrior Robert Guerrero, was the most compelling, one-sided beat down in years. 
Thurman is loaded with talent. He’s versatile as hell. He can stop on a dime and unload a bomb. If that’s not working, he can move and box. 
He’s a risk-taker. Thurman also makes some mistakes that leave him vulnerable at times. 
Thurman dominated Guerrero for eight rounds. He hit him with everything but his corner stool. Guerrero absorbed the blows and kept following after Thurman. In round nine, a wicked hook floored Guerrero. 
The fight was over right? 


Guerrerro, while on his back nodded to himself as if to say, "Ok, I’m gonna get you for that."
He got up and went after Thurman. Usually, when a fighter gets off the canvas, he lets the cobwebs clear.
Not Guerrero. There was more energy in his step. He forced Thurman into the ropes and unloaded. The crowd at the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV.,went bananas.


Guerrero brought the fire in the last three rounds. There was no way he was going to beat the gifted Thurman, but he showed a fighter’s heart that every fight fan loves. 
Thurman won the fight, but Guerrero captured the audience. 
On paper, the co-feature bout, pitting Adrien Broner and John Molina appeared to be interesting. Broner was exposed by Marcos Maidana a few years ago. His comeback fights have been underwhelming. Molina is the ultimate comeback kid. 
He engaged in this writer’s choice for "Fight of the Year" in 2013. 
But paper and performance are something entirely different. 
Broner did some things in the first few rounds. He pretty much did what he wanted whenever he wanted. 
Molina landed his vaunted right hand in round three, but little else. He kept looking and looking, and looking for an opening. When he did throw punches, it appeared that Broner didn’t like it.  
Broner coasted the last three rounds. The fans wanted him to stand in the middle of the ring and trade punches with Molina. Not a chance. And why should he? If he had been knocked out in the last round, with a huge lead on the scorecards, everyone would have questioned his intelligence. 
People do that anyway with Broner, but that’s a story for another day.  
The event itself was slickly produced. Maybe too much. I didn’t particularly dig the individual ring walks.


The ratings were a success. The event was the most viewed boxing telecast since 1998. The numbers peaked upward as the Thurman and Guerrero slugged it. This is good.    

Ok, maybe I’m just an old grouchy codger. I don’t mind change, but sometimes change isn’t for the better. 
The producers need to go back and watch the Gillette Friday Night Fights. 
Drama, baby.


Big time drama.


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