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HBO World Championship Boxing

HBO World Championship Boxing
WCB title card, from 2013 to 2018
GenreBoxing telecasts
Presented byJim Lampley
Max Kellerman
Roy Jones Jr.
StarringVarious
Theme music composerFerdinand Jay Smith III
Country of originUnited States
Original languagesEnglish
Spanish
No. of seasons45
Production
Production locationVarious boxing stadiums
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running timeVarious
Production companyHBO Sports
Original release
NetworkHBO
HBO Latino
truTV
ReleaseJanuary 22, 1973 (1973-01-22) –
December 8, 2018 (2018-12-08)
Related
Boxing After Dark
MetroPCS Friday Night Knockout

HBO World Championship Boxing (in later years stylized in its title card as HBO Boxing – World Championship) is an American sports television series on premium television network HBO. It premiered on January 22, 1973 with a fight that saw George Foreman defeat Joe Frazier in Kingston, Jamaica.

HBO's pay-per-view distribution arm, TVKO was founded in December 1990, and then launched in April 1991 with Evander Holyfield vs. George Foreman, becoming HBO PPV in 2001.[1]

On February 3, 1996, HBO debuted a spin-off program, Boxing After Dark, with the fight between Marco Antonio Barrera and Kennedy McKinney as its inaugural telecast.

On September 27, 2018, HBO announced they would be dropping boxing from the network following its last televised match on October 27, though two airings on November 24 and December 8 were its last editions. Various issues in the boxing business, including the influx of streaming options (such as DAZN and ESPN+) and issues with promoters and competing entities such as Premier Boxing Champions, along with declining ratings and loss of interest in the sport among HBO's subscribers for other ring sports such as mixed martial arts and professional wrestling, made the continued carriage of the sport untenable. HBO's long-term move to upscale dramatic programming, an ownership transfer of parent WarnerMedia to AT&T, then Warner Bros. Discovery, where the company's sport division became focused on TNT as TNT Sports, and re-focus around the upcoming streaming service HBO Max also played a role in the decision, with an HBO executive commenting that "HBO is not a sports network". The network cancelled its last sports-related program, Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, at the end of 2023.[2]

In March 2024, Warner Bros. Discovery revived the HBO Boxing brand as an free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channel that are available on Tubi and Amazon Freevee, that showcases some boxing bouts that aired on World Championship Boxing and Boxing After Dark, as well as some boxing-related episodes of 24/7.[3]

Memorable events

Famous matches broadcast on World Championship Boxing include:

A famous incident occurred on July 11, 1996 during the Riddick Bowe vs. Andrew Golota fight at Madison Square Garden, in which a confrontation between Golota and Bowe's entourage after Golata's disqualification for delivering low blows to Bowe, resulting a chaotic and violent brawl between the boxers' respective entourages and fans. During the fight, HBO's commentary team had to evacuate their ringside position (with George Foreman helping to protect his fellow commentators after unsuccessfully attempting to put an end to the fighting; the commentators' table was destroyed in the brawl), resulting in several minutes of commentary-free coverage of the melee before Jim Lampley was able to resume coverage of the incident from several levels above. Larry Merchant and Foreman remained in the ring providing coverage as tempers continued to flare into punch-ups between spectators. The credits rolled over footage of NYPD officers entering MSG and beginning to make arrests.[4][5]

World Championship Boxing has also had three spin-off series, Boxing After Dark, KO Nation, and MetroPCS Friday Night Knockout—a weekly broadcast co-produced with Turner Sports for sister cable network TruTV, while its multiplex Spanish channel HBO Latino aired its two spin-off series Oscar De La Hoya Presenta Boxeo De Oro (focused on fighters from De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions) and Generación Boxeo.[6][7][8][9]

Additionally, a video game carrying the brand name HBO Boxing was released for the PlayStation in 2000, which was published by Acclaim Entertainment under their Acclaim Sports banner.

Commentators

The main broadcast team was Jim Lampley on blow-by-blow, with former and future ESPN reporter Max Kellerman as color commentator, replacing Larry Merchant, who retired in December 2012. For the last two years of Merchant's contract he and Kellerman alternated telecasts.

The analyst position was held (when he was available) by former multiple-division world champion Roy Jones, Jr. Andre Ward or Bernard Hopkins fill in when Jones was unavailable. The position used to be held by Sugar Ray Leonard and former world heavyweight champions George Foreman and Lennox Lewis, and most recently (until his death) by trainer Emanuel Steward.

For pay-per-view fights, Bob Costas and James Brown used to host the telecast while Lampley called the fight; however Lampley later did both.

Harold Lederman, a former boxing judge, served as "unofficial scorer," giving his scorecards after every three rounds, sometimes two. Lederman also used to voice-over the rules under which the fight would be conducted before handing back to Lampley for pre-fight introductions; however the rules were later simply flashed on-screen to save time. Former judge Steve Weisfeld also appeared in this role, usually when Lederman's daughter Julie was judging a fight and as such Harold could not be on television due to the conflict of interest.

Michael Buffer was an unofficial member of the team as ring announcer for most HBO fights.

Chon Romero was one of the commentators for HBO Boxing's Spanish telecasts.[10]

Former commentators include: Marv Albert, Len Berman, Barry Tompkins, Fran Charles, Gil Clancy, Howard Cosell, Don Dunphy, Sugar Ray Leonard, Al Michaels, Jerry Quarry and Dick Stockton.

International broadcasts

Prior to 2009, TSN, a basic-cable sports channel in Canada, held the Canadian broadcast rights to most HBO boxing events, often airing them live (with ads inserted between rounds) if they did not conflict with other sports properties on the channel. From January 2009 to the series' end, HBO World Championship Boxing, and other HBO boxing events, aired live on HBO Canada with later repeats on TSN.

See also

References

  1. ^ "HBO and Showtime Climb Into the PPV Ring" (PDF). Broadcasting. December 24, 1990. p. 28. Retrieved July 29, 2020 – via World Radio History.
    "HBO and Showtime Climb Into the PPV Ring" (PDF). Broadcasting. December 24, 1990. p. 29. Retrieved July 29, 2020 – via World Radio History.
  2. ^ Matthews, Wallace (September 27, 2018). "HBO Says It Is Leaving the Boxing Business". The New York Times. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  3. ^ "Watch HBO Boxing". Tubi. Retrieved April 5, 2024.
  4. ^ "'Riot' follows Bowe's victory Golota's low blows stop bout; corners, crowd then join fray". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2023-02-08.
  5. ^ Andrew Golota vs Riddick Bowe 1996 The Riot Fight at MSG, retrieved 2023-02-08
  6. ^ "TruTV to broadcast boxing series". ESPN.com. 30 March 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
  7. ^ "Turner Sports Returns to the Ring With HBO and SpiderCam on Friday Night Knockout on truTV". Sports Video Group. May 2015. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  8. ^ "HBO Latino Enters the Ring". Multichannel News. October 9, 2002. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  9. ^ "HBO Latino Launches New Boxing Series, Generación Boxeo, Debuting Exclusively, Thursday, April 27". WarnerMedia (Press release). April 24, 2006. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  10. ^ "ENTREVISTA A CHON ROMERO ANALISTA DE HBO DONDE HABLA DE COTTO, JUANMA, PACQUIAO, BRONER ENTRE OTROS TEMAS". MR.BOXING.
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HBO World Championship Boxing
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