Best Boxing Television Networks in America
Which is Tops
Which is your favorite television channel for boxing?
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Boxing Network Ranking
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Boxing History's Top American Networks
HBO started off in boxng in 1973 and they are now the power house network for airing American boxing on televIsion. They first came to us live from Jamaica where George Foreman destroyed Joe Frazier for the heavyweight title. They have covered some of the biggest bouts in boxing history including: The Rumble in the Jungle, The Thrilla in Manilla and most of Mike Tyson's key matches not to mention all three Arturo Gatti vs. Mickey Ward bouts. HBO has always had great commentators. Most notably, Larry Merchant and Jim Lampley.
Max Kellerman does a fantastic commentating job but the bread and butter of HBO is the fact that they go after the biggest and best fighters and bouts aggressively. Harold Letterman does an amazing job of scoring bouts unofficially for HBO and usually does better than the actual judges.
2. Showtime:- Showtime debuted boxing in 1986 and has stayed a force in big time boxing. They covered the famous Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo bout that ened dramatically in favor of Chico Corales. Showtime covered the second half of Mike Tyson's career and the first half of Felix Trinidads. Julio Cesar Chavez was a mainstay and they always maintain a skilled commentary team including Al Bernstein and Ferdie Pacheco from the 90's until the new team the last few years which competes with HBO and that has Paulie Maliggnaggi as a commentator and it's awesome. Also, Brian Kenny is great with his thoughts and opinions. Showtime used to be a distant number 2 but over the years they have gained solid ground by airing top quality fights on a fairly consistent basis.
3. ABC:- ABC first aired prizefighting in 1964 and it was Muhammad Ali's title winning effort over Sonny Liston. The most famous announcer in boxing history, Howard Cossell was the color commentator during the shows infancy stages. Wide World of Sports carried boxing on it's shoulders for years covering Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran and most of Mike Tyson's early bouts. Jim Lampley from HBO got his start announcing boxing and other sports for ABC Wide World of Sports.
4. ESPN- Famous promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank teamed with ESPN to bring Top Rank boxing to the network in 1980. ESPN 2 now carries on the tradition with Friday Night Fights which shows up and coming boxers and it even has a boxing studio portion to give boxing news to the fans. Famous boxing trainer Teddy Atlas is the expert commentator.
5. NBC:- NBC first presented boxing in 1944 and it ran until 1960. Boxing has made a comeback on the network. Some of the best fighters and fights were broadcast on this channel including matches with Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson and Ezzard Charles. Tim Ryan and Gil Clancy made a great broadcasting team at one time for the station. NBC may rise on this list since they now air boxing constantly in conjunction with Premiere Boxing Champions or the PBC as it is called.
6. CBS: CBS has a long and storied impact on boxing but they are not consistent. In 1948 the channel debuted it's Pabst Blue Ribbon Boxing shows. CBS soured on boxing after the death of a boxer but they are making a comeback of sorts by airing boxing programming from Showtime such as a boxing preview show called 360 that documents events leading to upcoming pay per view events.
7. USA: USA had a wonderful boxing program that featured commentary by Al Albert and former Lightweight Champion Sean O Grady. The show was called USA's Tuesday Night Fights and it showed up and comers as well as former champions such as Larry Holmes, George Foreman and Roberto Duran. The show debuted in 1982 and lasted until 1998.
8. Telemundo: Telemundo is a division of NBC but it showcases fights on a more consistent basis. Telemundo focuses on Latin boxers but they air bouts involving any up and coming fighter. Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Ricardo Lopez and Juan Manuel Marquez have all had boxing main events on this television station.
9. Fox: Boxing has been very sporadic on Fox and Fox Sports Net but the matches are usually competitive. Iron Mike Tyson had his bout with Buster Mathis on Fox and James Toney has boxed on the network as well. The show called The Best Damn Sports Show Period has a great format and they have aired several boxing events.
10. Spike: Spike is one of the newer networks to feature prizefighting. Although they show Mixed Martial Arts more they still put on a good boxing card now and then. Although they are a small fish in a large ocean they have came a long way and even though it is random they showcase pugilists sometimes.
Teddy Atlas on ESPN's Friday Night Fights
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HBO Highlights of Gatti vs. Ward 1
Where Have You Gone?
In America boxing airs the most significant bouts on pay channels HBO and Showtime or on Pay Per View. If boxing could get back on regular television it would attract more viewers. Having said that I'm such a fan of the sport I'll get all pay per views, pay channels and watch it on ESPN and whoever else that's airing it. If I'm not home its time to set the DVR.
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© 2013 Buster Johnson