HBO steps out of the ring, ending its storied history of boxing coverage


SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Martin Rogers breaks down Canelo Alvarez’s victory over Gennady Golovkin and whether or not the judges got it right. USA TODAY

From George Foreman’s upset of Joe Frazier to Buster Douglas’ shocking knockout of Mike Tyson, HBO has broadcast many memorable moments in boxing history.

That will all come to an end next month, ending the network’s 45 years of covering the sport.

“Going forward in 2019, we will be pivoting away from programming live boxing on HBO,” according to an HBO statement published by Yahoo.  “As always, we will remain open to looking at events that fit our programming mix.  This could include boxing, just not for the foreseeable future.”

The network’s rich boxing history — which began with Foreman’s knockout of heavyweight champion Frazier in 1973 — will come to an end with a middleweight title bout at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 27.

“This is not a subjective decision,” Peter Nelson, the executive vice president of HBO Sports, said, according to The New York Times, which was the first to report the news. “Our audience research informs us that boxing is no longer a determinant factor for subscribing to HBO.”

More: Alvarez’s non-controversial win over Golovkin a bigger victory for boxing

While HBO’s absence in televising boxing will create a sizable void, other broadcast entities have been more than willing to fill it.

Showtime has been televising championship bouts since 1986, emerging as a major player with a 2013 deal it struck with Floyd Mayweather. Last month, the network announced a three-year extension with Premier Boxing Champions, which represents several of the top current boxers. 

Meanwhile, British boxing promoter Eddie Hearn’s company, Matchroom Boxing, recently signed a $1 billion deal to televise pay-per-view bouts over the next eight years. ESPN reached a seven-year deal with promoter Top Rank to televise boxing on its various outlets. And Fox Sports also just signed a deal with PBC. 

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