Major US TV networks left embarrassed as fans gripe at World Boxing Super Series coverage fail
It’s been the talk of the first two months of 2018 and there’s no denying the thriving success of the World Boxing Super Series platform.
Despite the quarter-finals taking place without too much incident or surprise, the cruiserweight semi-finals exploded into action and left United States fans wondering what they did wrong to not see a major network secure the TV rights.
An early and clear Fight of the Year contender between Alexandr Usyk and Mairis Briedis in January was followed up by another barnstomer between Murat Gassiev and Yunier Dorticos.
These two exceptional wars all but guarantee the WBSS will be applauded for their efforts no matter what happens from here on in.
Usyk and Briedis went toe-to-toe for twelve rounds before the Ukrainian unified the division, followed up a week later by Gassiev halting Dorticos with just seconds of the bout remaining to do likewise.
Showtime, HBO, FOX and ESPN all passed on the opportunity to take the United States portion of the TV coverage, and have since been targeted by irate fans and journalistic personnel through social media and beyond.
In the UK, ITV belatedly took up the option when Sky Sports and BoxNation seemed nailed on to make firm bids, which in hindsight doesn’t look to have been the best idea with the super-middleweight final four on the horizon.
An exciting match-up between George Groves and Chris Eubank Jr. is just a week away, with Callum Smith highly fancied to meet the winner in another superb finale in May.
Photo: World Boxing Super Series
Usyk v Gassiev and possibly Groves or Eubank v Smith in a Jeddah double-header – is on paper – a mammoth event, especially if the WBSS plan to stage both on the same bill.
This could eventually lead to one of big Stateside boys making their move, but it can at least be expected by the WBSS that they will attract far more TV interest when the new season gets underway in July.
Fans will certainly be hoping this is the case as the profile of the WBSS, ambitious from the very start, begins to snowfall due to what looks to be exceptional groundwork to sign the biggest names at the weight.
Added to that the organization and execution of the live shows themselves, which have recently been award with a ‘Best Sports Invention Award’, it seems the WBSS is here to stay and I must say long may it continue on the evidence presented so far.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay