LAS VEGAS – One of the most common complaints among boxing fans is that pay-per-view undercards too often don’t give them value commensurate to price points that typically exceed $70.
The economic reality of finalizing the grudge match between David Benavidez and Caleb Plant is that their purse demands made the pay-per-view platform unavoidable. Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza hopes, however, that even the ficklest fight fans are satisfied with the three Benavidez-Plant pay-per-view undercard fights his network will air as part of a telecast that is scheduled to start at 9 p.m. ET and costs $74.99.
Cody Crowley-Abel Ramos, Chris Colbert-Jose Valenzuela and Jesus Ramos-Joey Spencer are the three fights that will precede the 12-round main event in which Phoenix’s Benavidez (26-0, 23 KOs) will defend his WBC interim super middleweight title against Plant (22-1, 13 KOs), of Ashland City, Tennessee.
“There’s much more than just the main event,” Espinoza, Showtime’s president of sports and event programming, said Thursday during a press conference at MGM Grand’s KA Theatre. “As [Showtime’s] Brian [Custer] noted, there are three high-quality, high-intensity undercard fights on the pay-per-view. Eight fighters on the pay-per-view – they’ve got a combined record of 159 wins, with just eight losses, 105 combined knockouts. This is a true fight fan’s fight card. It’s a fight card for the true boxing fan.
“Boxing fans say they want the best fighting the best. Well, we’re giving it to them. Two of the top fighters in the super middleweight division in the main event. Boxing fans say they want 50-50 fights. Well, we’ve got those up and down the card. And boxing fans say they want a high-quality, evenly matched undercard, with quality fights, well, we’ve got that. Meaningful, hard-fought fights up and down the pay-per-view.”
Crowley (21-0, 9 KOs), of Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, and Abel Ramos (27-5-2, 21 KOs), of Casa Grande, Arizona, will begin the pay-per-view portion of the broadcast in a 12-round WBC welterweight elimination match. MGM Grand’s sportsbook lists Crowley as a 7-1 favorite, but Ramos has power and has faced six current or former world champions.
In the following fight, Brooklyn’s Colbert (16-1, 6 KOs) and Valenzuela (12-1, 8 KOs), of Renton, Washington, will both box for the first time since suffering their lone losses. MGM Grand’s sportsbook has established Colbert, a former WBA interim super featherweight champion who will compete at the lightweight limit for the first time, as less than a 2-1 favorite versus Valenzuela, a hard-hitting, 23-year-old southpaw, in their 10-rounder.
In the co-feature, Jesus Ramos (19-0, 15 KOs), of Casa Grande, Arizona, and Joey Spencer (16-0, 10 KOs), of Fenton, Michigan, will put their unblemished records at stake at similar stages of their careers, when many prospects and contenders don’t take these types of risks. Jesus Ramos is slightly more than a 2-1 favorite, according to MGM Grand’s sportsbook, which also lists Benavidez as a 3-1 favorite over Plant.
Two fights will be streamed on the Showtime Sports YouTube channel before the pay-per-view portion of the event begins, starting at 7 p.m. ET.
In the 10-round opener of this “Showtime PPV Countdown Show,” Cuban junior welterweight contender Orestes Velazquez (6-0, 6 KOs) will square off against Argentina’s Marcelino Lopez (37-2-1, 22 KOs). Following Velazquez-Lopez, Mexican junior bantamweight contender Kevin Gonzalez (25-0-1, 13 KOs) will encounter Colombia’s Jose Sanmartin (34-6-1, 21 KOs) in another 10-round bout.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.
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