By Jake Donovan
You know the drill. A weekend fight that’s not immediately available on American airwaves means one thing – straight to the message boards and chat rooms in search of (often illegal) online streams to catch the fight.
Sadly, such is often the case whenever there’s a fight offered on Mexican cable giant Televisa. Golden Boy Promotion’s monthly boxing series often shows fights that range from intriguing to must-see.
The problem is that must-see often becomes can’t see for those without access to the network, resulting in a Saturday night huddled around a monitor, hoping that the link that was passed along stays stable long enough to catch the action three minutes at a time for the duration of the fight.
Thanks to creative thinking by one of the series’ sponsors, there is no longer a need to take such drastic measures. Beginning with Saturday night’s show in Texcoco, Mexico, stateside fight fans will now have the ability to watch the fight in three different mediums.
A newly formed relationship between Golden Boy Promotions and AT&T has opened the door for this weekend’s junior flyweight rematch between defending titlist Gilberto Keb Baas and former conqueror Adrian Hernandez to be made available to AT&T U-Verse members in the United States on television, online ( http://uverseonline.att.net/boxeo ) or mobile device.
“The more choices you have, the better it is for the fans and for the sport,” states Bruce Binkow, Chief Marketing Officer of Golden Boy Enterprises. “You’re seeing announcements all of the time of new ways to present a product. We’re happy to be at the forefront of that.”
Saturday’s triple play is believed to be the first time that any network or service provider has offered a three-screen live fight before. It has been commonplace for websites to stream normally non-televised undercards before, serving as lead-ins to the more anticipated portion of the show on the big screen.
There have also been experiments with cable networks offering a live simulcast through their website. The more common practice in online viewing has been for websites to offer live viewing on nights when the televised portion has to run via tape-delay. ESPN2 Friday Night Fight series is the greatest example, with all fights always available live on ESPN3.com regardless of the network schedule.
This weekend’s card aims high to offer three for the price of one. The most promising part is that the promotion wasn’t the result of a boxing promoter begging other outlets for more exposure, but the sponsor being eager to present the sport in a new light.
“It was all AT&T,” Binkow explains. “They are a big sponsor for Televisa boxing and said they want to feature boxing content on their three-screen platform.”
The motivation behind AT&T’s involvement and ambition is to tap into the Mexican boxing market, but there will also be an English track made available for the show, for those who no hablan Español.
No matter the language, the action appearing on screen should simply speak for itself.
The 33-year old Keb Baas (35-20-4, 22KO) is in the midst of a Cinderella run, which began last November with his title win over Omar Niño Romero, a shocker that was selected as 2010’s Upset of the Year by Boxingscene.com.
His first defense was a ninth-round knockout over former titlist Jose Antonio Aguirre to now make it eight straight fights without a loss. The run is remarkable, considering that it follows a near three year stretch where he couldn’t buy a win. Included in the period where he went 0-5-2 was a 2008 knockout loss to Hernandez, whom he faces this weekend.
Hernandez (20-1-1, 12KO) is riding a seven-fight win streak himself as he braces for the first title shot of his five-year young career. The win over Keb Baas was supposed to advance the then-undefeated Mexican prospect to the contender picture, but a subsequent draw to faded former titlist Eric Ortiz and upset knockout loss to Oscar Ibarra helped momentarily stall his progress.
More than two years and seven fights later, Hernandez is ready for history to repeat itself, although Keb Baas figures to have plenty to say about that.
Fortunately for both fighters, more fans than ever are able to form their own opinion, rather than have to read about it. More so than the fight itself, those involved with the show are anxious to see how the public responds to the number of ways they can take in the rematch.
“I think it will be a great card and we’re really looking forward to public reaction,” Binkow states. “We’re especially excited to hear back from those who choose online and mobile viewing, since AT&T puts out such a high quality product in both capacities.”
The “Sabados De Corona” boxing series on Televisa has been known to offer quality of its own in the form of rising and notable talent. “We’re excited about the monthly Televisa series. The talent down there warrants this exposure,” Binkow insists.
Chief among the current cast is rising star Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who himself broke new ground late last year when the rights to his December showcase against Lovemore N’Dou were shared with HBO, who aired the bout via one-hour tape delay on its Latino network.
The hope for the multitude of viewing options is that it will entice more fighters to give the series a chance, rather than be concerned about fighting in the proverbial dark.
“The Televisa shows have a certain budget, so obviously there is a limit to the level of fighters that will appear,” Binkow explains. “Quality is always the priority, so we offer the best fights that the money will allow. Hopefully this will give fighters more exposure, which will help develop those fighters into stars and encourage other fighters to want to appear.”
In the meantime, the talk around the Televisa water cooler is how greatly its current audience will expand in the manner of one sitting.
“It’s great that AT&T U-Verse is bringing these fights to those who can’t normally view. It’s really a great opportunity to see what Televisa is all about.”
It’s an even greater opportunity for the normal online pirates to take in their favorite pastime without having to secretly ask for the best place to watch it.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected] .