Adviser/manager Al Haymon's grip on American televised boxing got even stronger with Tuesday's announcement that his "Premier Boxing Champions" series is coming to CBS as part of a multiyear deal that also will have Haymon's fights continuing to air on CBS-owned Showtime.
Haymon has engineered the third significant television deal for "Premier Boxing Champions" in two months. Last month, in a span of two weeks, his time-buy deals with NBC, which includes fights in prime time, and Spike TV were announced. Those two deals include plans for at least 73 live PBC cards among NBC, NBC Sports Network and Spike TV through 2017.
According to Tuesday's announcement, CBS will carry up to eight events this year with others possible on CBS Sports Network.
The first CBS card will take place April 4 (3 p.m. ET) in Quebec City, with light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson (25-1, 21 KOs) defending the title for the fifth time when he faces former super middleweight titleholder Sakio Bika (32-6-3, 21 KOs). The co-feature will pit red-hot light heavyweight prospect Artur Beterbiev (7-0, 7 KOs) against former titleholder Gabriel Campillo (25-6-1, 12 KOs).
The second edition of PBC on CBS will take place May 9 (4:30 p.m. ET) at a location to be determined. In the junior welterweight main event, Omar Figueroa (24-0-1, 18 KOs), who has been out of action since August and was stripped of his lightweight world title in November because a hand injury prevented him from making a mandatory defense, will face former lightweight and junior lightweight titlist Ricky Burns (37-4-1, 11 KOs). Burns, from Scotland, will fight in the United States for the first time. Figueroa and Burns are both moving up in weight.
There also will be CBS cards on dates to be announced in June, July and September, with up to three more after that. Besides the April 4 debut, all of CBS' cards will air at 4:30 p.m. ET.
There has not been regular live boxing on CBS since the late 1990s. The last time it aired a fight was in 2012, but that was a one-off bout featuring then-bantamweight titlist Leo Santa Cruz.
While the CBS aspect of the agreement is believed to be a similar time-buy deal as Haymon has with NBC and Spike TV, Showtime will continue "to pay its traditional license fees" for its "Showtime Championship Boxing" series, according to a source familiar with the deal. CBS and Showtime, however, will cross-promote their events.
"The Premier Boxing Champions series on CBS will help usher in a new era in the storied history of boxing," said Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager of Showtime Sports. "With the support of our parent company (CBS), we are uniquely positioned for a three-tiered approach that includes live boxing broadcasts on America's No. 1 network, the cable reach of CBS Sports Network and, of course, the premium television leader in boxing, Showtime. The benefit of elevating the sport across these platforms for all involved, including Showtime, is immeasurable."
Haymon, who does not speak to the media, has more than 170 fighters under contract and was not even mentioned in the announcement.
There were also two "Showtime Championship Boxing" cards announced.
On March 28, at a site to be announced, featherweight titlist Jhonny Gonzalez (57-8, 48 KOs) will make his third defense when he faces Gary Russell Jr. (25-1,14 KOs), who has won his only fight since losing a decision to Vasyl Lomachenko for a vacant world title in June. Also on the card, junior middleweight contenders Jermell Charlo (25-0, 11 KOs) and Vanes Martirosyan (35-1-1, 21 KOs) will meet. The winner of that fight will put himself in a tremendous position for a world title fight.
On April 18, also at a site to be announced, former middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (48-1-1, 32 KOs), the son of legendary Hall of Famer Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., will make his Showtime debut when he faces light heavyweight contender Andrzej Fonfara (26-3, 15 KOs) in a previously announced fight. Although the fight was made, questions remained as to which network would air it. Top Rank's Bob Arum, Chavez's career-long promoter, claims he owes the company one more fight on their deal. He is suing Chavez and trying to block the fight with Fonfara.