Spike TV rounded out its broadcast team for the monthly “Premier Boxing Champions” series that adviser/manager Al Haymon has bought time on the network for.
Former light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver, a Haymon client now campaigning as a heavyweight, and Jimmy Smith, known to the Spike TV audience as a commentator for the network’s coverage of Bellator mixed martial arts, will join host Dana Jacobson and blow-by-blow announcer Scott Hanson. Jacobson and Hanson were previously announced for the series.
The first Spike TV card is scheduled for March 13 (9 p.m. ET) at the Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario, California, and will be headlined by former welterweight titlist Andre Berto against Josesito Lopez, with former welterweight titleholder Shawn Porter taking on Robert Garcia in the co-feature. It is the first of nine cards this year, with 12 more on tap for each of the next two years.
“We are thrilled to add two dynamic and knowledgeable voices who each possess their own unique perspectives of combat sports,” said Spike TV senior vice president Jon Slusser. “Antonio delivers a huge personality with a championship pedigree, and Jimmy will bring his incredible insight and energy that he has for MMA to boxing.”
Tarver earned a reputation as one of boxing’s best color commentators while working as an analyst on Showtime, but the network fired him in 2012 after he tested positive for steroids following a Showtime-televised cruiserweight fight against Lateef Kayode. The dirty drug test also cost Tarver his analyst job with NBC, which had hired him to work on the network’s boxing coverage at the 2012 London Olympics.
“I’m blessed to be doing what I love,” Tarver said.
Besides his work as the color analyst for Spike TV’s Bellator coverage, Smith was an MMA fighter, turning pro in 2003. He went 5-1 before retiring in 2006 to focus on a television career. He joined Bellator in 2010 and has served as its lead color analyst since.