NEW YORK – SHOWTIME Sports will present seven marquee boxing matches pitting top-10 rated champions in the prime of their careers against fellow top-10 rated challengers over four consecutive months beginning in December. The schedule, which is the second robust boxing programming announcement from SHOWTIME in 2016, was announced today by Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President and General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports. The lineup includes two long-awaited championship matchups, Jesus Cuellar vs. Abner Mares and Jermall Charlo vs. Julian Williams; the can’t-miss featherweight rematch between Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz, and a welterweight unification blockbuster between undefeated champions Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia. All four of these anticipated bouts will be presented in association with Premier Boxing Champions.
SHOWTIME Sports produced the strongest lineup of world-class boxing events of any network this year, delivering 18 world title fights devoid of mismatches and “tune-up” fights. The best fought the best, and the results were spectacular: two “Fight of the Year” contenders, Thurman-Shawn Porter and Santa Cruz-Frampton; a “Knockout of the Year” frontrunner by one of boxing’s biggest punchers, Deontay Wilder; and the arrival of one of boxing’s most marketable new stars in Anthony Joshua. SHOWTIME also featured the trio of junior middleweight champions, the Charlo twins, Jermall and Jermell, and Erislandy Lara, all in title fights on one card; highlighted the world’s best featherweights in Santa Cruz, Frampton, Gary Russell Jr. and Lee Selby; and set the table for the title unification fight between super middleweight champions Badou Jack and James DeGale.
Boxing’s brightest stars will again take center stage on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® as the network prepares to present the following seven matchups, including six world title fights, over a 12-week span. All bouts will air live on SHOWTIME with the exception of Garcia vs. Thurman, which will either air live in Primetime on CBS or live on SHOWTIME.
Seven of the 14 fighters are undefeated, while the champions and challengers in the six world title fights boast a combined 313 wins versus just six losses.
December 10: Jesus Cuellar (28-1, 21 KOs) vs. Abner Mares (29-2-1, 15 KOs)*
Jermall Charlo (24-0, 18 KOs) vs. Julian Williams (22-0-1, 14 KOs)*
January 14: Badou Jack (20-1-2, 12 KOs) vs. James DeGale (23-1, 14 KOs)**
January 28: Carl Frampton (23-0, 14 KOs) vs. Leo Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18 KOs)*
Dejan Zlaticanin (18-0, 11 KOs) vs. Mikey Garcia (35-0, 29 KOs)*
“This is a slate of high-level, evenly-matched, 50/50 fights – the best fighting the best – which has become the calling card of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING,” said Espinoza. “Every fight we are announcing today features a top 10-ranked champion taking on a top 10-ranked challenger; in many cases, it’s top-five vs. top-five.
“This is our second major boxing lineup announcement this year, further proof that no other network is delivering high-quality competitive fights – without relying on PPV – as consistently as SHOWTIME. No other network is as committed to driving the sport forward. SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING is giving subscribers the best that boxing has to offer.
Saturday, Dec. 10 – SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING®
Presented in association with Premier Boxing Champions
In a highly anticipated featherweight blockbuster, hard-hitting Jesus Cuellar will make the second defense of his WBA 126-pound title against Abner Mares, a three-division champ who has compiled a staggering resume while collecting belts at 118, 122 and 126 pounds. Cuellar vs. Mares is the latest in a lineup of action-oriented 126-pound showdowns assembled with the goal of unifying one of the sport’s most talent-laden divisions. It will be the fifth featherweight world championship of 2016 on SHOWTIME.
On Dec. 10, there also will be a long-awaited world championship contest between two undefeated 154-pound fighters. Jermall Charlo will make the third defense of his IBF Junior Middleweight World Championship against No. 1 mandatory challenger Julian Williams in a matchup of 26-year-old fighters at the top of their game. Charlo vs. Williams becomes the sixth title or world title eliminator in the 154-pound weight class in 2016 on SHOWTIME, a roster featuring eight of the top-10 fighters in the division.
Saturday, Jan. 14 – SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING
Super middleweight world champions Badou Jack and James DeGale are set to unify the 168-pound class. Both champions retained their titles on a doubleheader last April 30 on SHOWTIME. Jack kept his WBC belt in a controversial draw with longtime titlist Lucian Bute that many thought Jack clearly won. Earlier that evening, DeGale successfully defended his IBF crown with a unanimous decision over mandated challenger Rogelio Medina. Jack landed 61 percent of his power punches, while DeGale connected on an astonishing 66 percent of his power shots. Now, Jack and DeGale will face off in a long-awaited unification to determine the No. 1 fighter in the super middleweight division.
Saturday, Jan. 28 – SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING
Presented in association with Premier Boxing Champions
The most anticipated rematch in boxing will take place when Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz square off in an immediate rematch of a leading 2016 Fight of the Year candidate. In their first encounter July 30 on SHOWTIME, former super bantamweight champ Frampton moved up in weight to challenge fellow unbeaten Santa Cruz, edging the three-division titlist in a firefight. The must-see rematch will be the sixth featherweight world championship on SHOWTIME in less than 12 months.
The co-feature pits undefeated lightweights Dejan Zlaticanin against resurgent fan favorite Mikey Garcia. Zlaticanin is making the first defense of his WBC 135-pound crown against the former two-division titlist in Garcia. The champion is the No. 1 fighter at 135 pounds, while Garcia is aiming to become a three-division world champion in just his second fight back from a two-and-a-half year layoff.