Boxing is returning to network television.
Golden Boy Promotions and sister networks Showtime and CBS announced a deal this week under which boxers from the 2012 Olympic tournament, which celebrates the opening ceremonies Friday in London, will make their professional debuts on CBS.
Golden Boy plans to pursue standout fighters from the Games and they would be scheduled to have their pro debuts on CBS -- on telecasts produced by Showtime, which regularly televises boxing -- on Oct. 14 and Dec. 15. Other dates would follow.
"It is a great pleasure for Golden Boy Promotions to be working with CBS on this exciting network television opportunity for these young athletes," said Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer.
It remains to be seen which fighters Golden Boy will sign, although the guarantee of network television coverage certainly will be a major chip the company can offer to the fighters that other promotional companies cannot when it comes time for the fighters to consider pro contracts.
Schaefer said he will travel to the Olympics and plans to attend the boxing tournament to watch "closely for breakout performances by fighters in all weight classes," adding that he would be watching the male fighters as well as the women. This is the first time that there is a women's boxing tournament in the Olympics.
Schaefer said he looked forward to seeing the talent in London.
"We know these men and women have the potential to become the future champions in our sport and it will be a thrill to see what boxing can look forward to in the years to come," he said.
Showtime Sports chief Stephen Espinoza, who helped spearhead the deal, added, "It is a dream come true for any Olympic fighter to make his or her pro debut on network television. I am grateful to my colleagues at CBS who are giving Showtime the opportunity to present the future of the sport to the largest possible audience. It will be an exciting moment for boxing and I am proud to be part of this special presentation."
Twenty years ago at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya won a gold medal -- hence his nickname, "The Golden Boy."
He said he would be involved closely in the careers of any Olympians that his company signs for the network telecasts.
"I know from my own experience the pressure these young fighters are under to compete in the Olympics, to represent their country well and to bring home a medal," he said. "Once the celebrating is over and they turn professional, there are certain things that happen during that transition that I feel I can assist them with because I did it myself."
Boxing was once a staple of network television, but it has not been on in years other than a few fights on NBC in the 2000s. CBS was once a hotbed for boxing through the 1980s and, to a lesser extent, in the 1990s, regularly televising world title fights.