By Mariano A. Agmi
Football is not the only game on Monday night TV anymore. Golden Boy Promotions will kick off a new Monday night series on a brand new channel this summer, as “Golden Boy Live!” will be shown from various venues across the US on Fox Sports 1 every couple of weeks. IBF light heavyweight champion and Golden Boy partner Bernard Hopkins and FOX Sports Senior Vice President of Programming & Research, Bill Wanger, were at Planet Hollywood in New York City on Tuesday afternoon to announce the new series as well as the first card.
“Monday really is wide open from a fighting perspective, so we thought that was a great opportunity,” stated Wanger. “There may be Monday Night Football, but people generally flip around, especially if their team isn’t playing.”
“It’s very important,” agreed Hopkins about broadcasting boxing during the week to capitalize on home viewership. “I’m not a TV producer, but I assume that everybody is coming off the weekend, and Monday is usually the day when you’re home regrouping from the weekend. People don’t even go to restaurants on Monday. They usually save that for Thursday or Friday when they’re tired of cooking all week. So people can come home from work with plans to stay in and watch a fight. There will be 24 shows and they will take place every couple of weeks.”
Hopkins, a Philadelphia native who resides in Delaware, is excited to take on the role of the Golden Boy representative on the East Coast. He also hopes that a series like this one can shine a spotlight on East Coast talent that casual fans may not be aware of.
“The series opens things up on the East coast and will give prospects from DC, New York, Jersey, and Delaware a platform,” elaborates Hopkins. “Right now they’re not ready for ‘Boxing After Dark’ or ‘SHOBOX’. They’re ready for some exposure based on their Olympic or amateur pedigree. This gives them a chance to be brought up through the system like the old ‘ABC Wide World of Sports.’ They get a chance to build a foundation without having fans paying for it. They can turn on FOX, which has more viewers than the cable channels, and it sends a message to a wider audience to watch out for this guy or that guy because they are the future champions of the sport.”
To help the series generate high ratings and ensure that prospects are the real deal, Golden Boy plans on putting their talented young fighters in stern tests that will help them mature into well-known HBO and Showtime caliber fighters.
“The purpose is to have viewership go up and have people say ‘wow, I just saw a great fight’. We have the talent pool. When you have a deep stable of young fighters, what network wouldn’t want to do business with us? 9 out of 10 of the fighters will be there for a while. One of them may not end up being what you thought he was, but the rest will be ready for prime time as the series progresses. It’s an investment in a good stock that you know is safe but will take some time to mature.”
Jacobs-Lorenzo & Gomez-Chambers on August 19th at the Best Buy Theatre in Times Square
The first show, taking place on August 19 from the Best Buy Theatre in New York City, features two competitive match ups between fighters that are based on the East Coast. In the main event, Brooklyn middleweight contender Danny “The Miracle Man” Jacobs (25-1, 22 KOs) will battle veteran Giovanni Lorenzo (32-5, 24 KOs). Undefeated Bronx welterweight prospect Eddie Gomez (14-0, -9 KOs) will take on Philadelphian Steven Upsher Chambers (24-2, 6 KOs) in the co-feature. The card will also feature 2012 Olympian and blue chip light heavyweight prospect Marcus Brown (5-0, 5 KOs) out of Staten Island and bantamweight prospect Claude Staten Jr. (1-0) in non-televised bouts.
“It’s great to be fighting in front of my people in my hometown after fighting on other people’s home turf for so many years,” stated Lorenzo, a Bronx based Dominican who was a promising prospect before losing questionable decisions against Raul Marquez in Florida and Sebastian Sylvester in Germany.
With 4 of his 5 losses taking place on foreign soil, Lorenzo hopes to have better luck fighting at home: “Danny Jacobs is a good fighter, but sometimes fighters say things that they don’t really mean when they’re nervous. I assure you that I can take a good punch and I have heavy hands, and he will see this on display on August 19th.”
Danny Jacobs, himself once a sure shot future champion before being stopped in five rounds against Dmitry Pirog for the vacant WBO middleweight title in 2010, has put together a string of five concussive victories since the setback, but what makes his comeback story a special one is that Danny also recovered from a paralyzing form of cancer only two years ago.
“All this for me?” asked Jacobs as he took the podium. “This is amazing. I’m truly blessed. Two years ago I was barely able to walk, paralyzed in the hospital battling cancer. To come back two years later and fight in a main event in Times Square, it doesn’t get any better than that. Giovanni Lorenzo is a tremendous, very experienced fighter. I know he’s going to bring it come fight night. I look forward to a very stern test. I know he’s talking about having a sturdy chin, but you can’t hit what you can’t see. I have good hand speed and punching power, just like he does. You’re going to be in for a tremendous show on August 19th. I encourage you to come out and support us young up and coming boxers, because we are the future. We’re going to make noise in this sport.”
When we last saw Stephen Upsher Chambers in New York City, he lost a tough fight against former WBA welterweight titlist Luis Collazo in October of last year. Chambers, a skilled but light hitting puncher with only six knockouts in twenty four wins, hopes to have better luck in his second appearance in New York City.
“I’m eager to get back in that win column,” stated Chambers. “It’s unfortunate that it has to be against Eddie Gomez, because I’d like to see him keep winning, but this time he has to go down. This is my big opportunity. I had a tough fight against Luis Collazo last October. Collazo is a former world champion and was very slick in there, but this time I’m the fighter with more experience, and it’s going to show.”
Undefeated in 14 pro fights, the 20-year-old Eddie Gomez has been steadily improving on Golden Boy undercards over the past few months. “Chambers has 2 losses in 26 fights, and on August 19th it will be 3 losses,” assured Gomez. “We’re excited to be on this card with so many New York fighters and we’re going for win #15 on August 19th. Decision, knockout, whatever it is, I’m taking the win.”
FOX Sports 1
Bill Wanger spoke to Fightnews after the press conference about the new sports network, which is scheduled to launch on August 17th.
“We have three main things when we launch that Saturday: we have Nascar programming from Michigan speedway, we have UFC programming from Boston and then we premier our ‘FOX Sports Live’ on Saturday night, which is our news and highlight information show. We have racing on Sunday and on Monday, we have ‘Golden Boy Live!’ and ‘FOX Football Daily.’ Wednesday will be our UFC night. We’ll have ‘UFC Tonight’ which is like a pre-game show, and later we’ll have the ‘Ultimate Fighter,’ and the schedule rolls along from there.
Wanger explained that boxing programming will also run on FOX Deportes at the same time as FOX Sports 1 for Spanish speaking fans.
“FOX Deportes will simulcast in Spanish and they will show their own cards as well – it’s a multi-platform deal. We know our next card will be September 2nd, but we’re still working through the rest of the schedule with Golden Boy.”
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