Looking to rekindle the glory days of boxing when fights were true events and sports theater, NBC is launching its Premiere Boxing Champions series this weekend. The network is gambling on putting a cast of up and coming, almost famous fighters in your living room on Saturday nights for the first time since 1985.
But will anyone watch? The network put together a stable of made-for-TV brawlers with big personalities, lots of grit, and plenty of punching power. Here’s a look at the first two fights lined-up for Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
Keith Thurman vs. Robert Guerrero
What you need to know: Keith “One Time” Thurman is already looking past hard-nosed veteran Robert Guerrero and wants a piece of welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather.
Thurman, an undefeated 26-year-old knockout artist, has said he looks forward to “destroying” Mayweather, but before that can happen, Thurman has a date with the highly respected Guerrero, who walked away from a featherweight title bout in 2007 to be with his wife Casey while she was battling leukemia.
“I think he’s average,” Mayweather said of Thurman after the youngster called him out on TV. “Go and beat Guerrero and then you can say you beat somebody. Keith Thurman is going to get nobody’s stamp of approval until he beats a Guerrero or somebody with a name. He hasn’t done anything.”
Guerrero, 31, fought Mayweather in 2013 and lost in a welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He’s been there, done that and he’s looking to stamp Thurman with his first loss.
Record: 24-0-0 (21 knockouts)
Weight: 147 pounds
Hometown: Clearwater, Fla.
Record: 32-2-1 (18 knockouts)
Weight 147 pounds
Hometown: Gilroy, Calif.
Adrien Broner vs. John Molina
What you need to know: Three-time world champion Adrien “The Problem” Broner is not a fan favorite. In fact, he’s the fighter boxing purists love to hate, despite his lightning fast hands and brutal punching power.
He’s posted videos of himself flushing money down the toilet on Twitter and has failed to make weight multiple times, which he followed up by publishing pictures of Twinkies online – his way of giving a digital middle finger to absolutely everyone.
Molina, on the other hand, is a no-nonsense slugger who will try to knock the cream filling out of Broner, who recently told Ring Magazine that “entertainment is everything.” In the same interview, Broner said, “It means a lot to fight on NBC. I can get some new fans and hopefully I can get more people to like me than dislike me.”
Molina, who comes into this fight after losing his last two, really dislikes Broner. The two have been sparring on social media.
Record: 29-1-0 (22 knockouts)
Weight: 140 pounds
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Record: 27-5-0 (22 knockouts)
Weight: 140 pounds
Hometown: Covina, Calif.
PBC is scheduled to televise five nights of live fights on NBC, CBS, and Spike TV.