By Jake Donovan
Saturday’s telecast from the Toyota Center in Houston marked HBO’s final live boxing telecast of 2012. It doesn’t mean its boxing season is completely in the books.
The American cable giant will cap the year with a week’s worth of recaps of select bouts it has aired over the past 12 months in a series simply titled ‘HBO Boxing’s Best of 2012.’ Seven memorable fights – whether for its thrilling two-way action or for virtuoso performances - will air over the span of five consecutive nights beginning December 25.
The seven bouts to air feature 14 different fighters, including two fights that figure to rate high in the Fight of the Year race come awards season. Replays are scheduled to air at 11PM ET on all five nights, with doubleheaders planned on the final two evenings.
Unbeaten pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather’s lone performance of 2012 kicks off the stretch of exclusive replays, with the Christmas night viewing (Dec. 25, 11PM ET) showcasing his 12-round points win over Miguel Cotto.
The matchup of two of the sport’s biggest attractions this past May was as entertaining as it was lucrative. It served as the highest grossing pay-per-view event of 2012, generating 1.5 million pay-per-view buys.
Mayweather-Cotto is one of three HBO pay-per-view headliners to be replayed in the final full week of 2012. The following night will showcase Sergio Martinez’ thrilling points win over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr (Dec. 26, 11PM ET).
The September bout was for 11 rounds a one-sided rout in favor of Martinez. That dramatically changed midway through the 12th and final round when Chavez Jr. scored a dramatic knockdown and was one punch away from a miracle knockout. Martinez managed to survive what many believe is a top contender for 2012’s Round of the Year, going on to take a well-deserved win in a fight that netted career-high paydays for both fighters as well as 475,000 pay-per-view buys.
Robert Guerrero proved to be a force in the welterweight division in 2012. A hard-fought points win over Selcuk Aydin this past July planted the seed, but it was his two-knockdown, 12-round win over Andre Berto that convinced the masses of his belonging among the best in boxing’s most lucrative weight class. Their November 24 thriller will re-air on Thursday, December 27.
The final two nights – Friday, Dec. 28 and Saturday, Dec. 29 – both offer doubleheaders, with each night featuring a particular theme.
Thursday’s offering showcases a pair of brilliant performances offered by two unbeaten American rising stars. The evening begins with Adrien Broner’s emphatic arrival into the lightweight division in his one-sided beatdown of Antonio DeMarco, which took place on Nov. 17 in Atlantic City.
Immediately following is a replay of the lone ring appearance of 2012 for Andre Ward, the reigning Fighter of the Year. The unbeaten super middleweight king is unlikely to repeat honors, but still warrants consideration on the strength of his spectacular showing against light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson, who foolishly dropped down in weight and was manhandled in their Sept. 8 clash in Ward’s hometown of Oakland.
The final night of year-end replays offers the two leading candidates for 2012’s Fight of the Year. First to air on the Friday twinbill is the Oct. 13 war, in which Brandon Rios walked through hell to stop Mike Alvarado in a savagely beautiful slugfest between unbeaten super lightweight contenders.
Many believed the fight to be without peer, until Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao rekindled their old magic on Dec. 8. Their six-round war saw both fighters hit the deck before Marquez put Pacquiao down and out, finally securing an official win in their four-fight series and sending shockwaves through the boxing world in the process.
The bout is viewed by many as the best of their four-fight series, a major statement considering the critical acclaim to have followed Part I and Part II. Ironically, their third encounter last November was the most lucrative of the bunch, generating more than $11 million at the box office and more than 1.3 million pay-per-view units sold.
Their fourth clash earlier this month posted comparable numbers, but proved to be the most memorable of the tetralogy. Its pairing with Rios-Alvarado gives fans the opportunity to view the best 13 rounds of the year and decide for themselves which bout was truly the best of 2012.
While the replaying of the aforementioned bouts is a treat for any boxing fan, there exists at least two notable omissions from the lineup. Pacquiao’s controversial points loss to Tim Bradley in June is the lone HBO PPV headliner excluded from the year-end list.
Also missing is any glimpse of what many believe to be a Fighter of the Year-worthy campaign from Nonito Donaire, whose three-round destruction of Jorge Arce was the network’s final main event of the year this past weekend. The night also served as Larry Merchant’s final ringside assignment after 35 years as a color commentator for the network.
Donaire fought four times in 2012, all of which aired on HBO and came against consensus Top 10 super bantamweight competition. Included among the run was a nine-round blitzing of Toshiaki Nishioka, which aired along with Rios-Alvarado on the network’s Oct. 13 doubleheader from Carson, Calif. The win earned Donaire universal recognition as the lineal 122 lb. king.
Live boxing action returns on HBO next year, with the 2013 season kicking off with a live tripleheader on Jan. 19 at The Theatre at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The three-fight telecast showcases unbeaten middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin, who made his network debut this past September when he destroyed Grzregorz Proksa in five rounds. He figures to be matched tougher in a defense against Gabriel Rosado. Headlining the show is a mouthwatering matchup between veteran featherweight titlist Orlando Salido and unbeaten contender Mikey Garcia.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox