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Fight No. 1,000 on deck for HBO

HBO, synonymous with big-time boxing for decades, televised its first fight on Jan. 22, 1973 -- George Foreman’s second-round destruction of Joe Frazier to win the heavyweight championship in Kingston, Jamaica.

Forty-two years later, it will televise a doubleheader Saturday night (9:45 p.m. ET/PT) headlined by welterweights Timothy Bradley Jr. and Jessie Vargas from the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

Opening the telecast will be a fight featuring blue-chip featherweight prospect Oscar Valdez, the two-time Mexican Olympian, taking on Ruben Tamayo in a scheduled 10-rounder.

In the scheme of things, Valdez-Tamayo pales in comparison with the hundreds of major fights HBO has televised over the years, but it will always be the answer to a trivia question because it will be the 1,000th fight to air on HBO.

HBO plans to commemorate the milestone at the beginning of the telecast with an approximately four-minute video of highlights from its many great fights.

A few fun facts about HBO’s rich boxing history, courtesy of HBO Sports’ media relations department:

• Most fighter appearances: Roy Jones Jr. 32, Oscar De La Hoya 32, Shane Mosley 27, Floyd Mayweather 27, Lennox Lewis 23, Manny Pacquiao 23, Bernard Hopkins 22, Arturo Gatti 21, Miguel Cotto 21, Pernell Whitaker 19, Marco Antonio Barrera 19, Wladimir Klitschko 19.

• HBO has shown boxing from 34 states, Puerto Rico and 19 foreign countries for a total of 88 cities.

• Most visits to one city: Las Vegas -- 178 times for 243 fights -- followed by Atlantic City, New Jersey (81 times for 135 fights) and New York (63 times for 109 fights).

• Most cities in one state: California -- 17 on 59 trips, followed by eight cities on 29 trips to Texas and six cities in Florida on 22 trips.

• Twice HBO aired fights from Rahway State Penitentiary in New Jersey.

I have been ringside to cover about one-third of the fights HBO has televised. My first one was in 1998 (Naseem Hamed-Wayne McCullough), but since I began covering boxing full time in 2000, I have covered them regularly. I’ll be ringside Saturday, marking the 310th and 311th HBO fights for which I will be ringside.

Here’s one man’s list, in no particular order, of some of the most memorable fights/events in HBO’s storied boxing history:

• Buster Douglas-Mike Tyson

• Julio Cesar Chavez Sr.-Meldrick Taylor

• Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier III (The Thrilla in Manila)

• Ali-George Foreman (The Rumble in the Jungle)

• Riddick Bowe-Evander Holyfield trilogy

• Gatti-Micky Ward trilogy

• Barrera-Erik Morales trilogy

• All four fights of the Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez rivalry

• Foreman-Michael Moorer

• Lewis-Tyson

• Tyson-Michael Spinks

• Sugar Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns I and II

• Marvin Hagler-Thomas Hearns

• Leonard-Hagler

• Mayweather-Pacquiao

• De La Hoya-Trinidad

• Mayweather-De La Hoya

• Mayweather-Ricky Hatton

• Hopkins-Felix Trinidad

• Trinidad-Fernando Vargas

• Bowe-Andrew Golota I (riot fight)

• Aaron Pryor-Alexis Arguello I

• Larry Holmes-Gerry Cooney

• Naseem Hamed-Kevin Kelley

• Pacquiao-Cotto