When boxing manager/adviser Al Haymon created Premier Boxing Champions in 2015, he spent hundreds of millions of investor dollars buying time across numerous television networks, including ESPN, NBC, CBS and Fox, hoping to entice one or more of them to eventually pony up rights fees for top-level fights.
Although most of those deals went by the wayside with nothing but red ink to show for them, Haymon has scored a modest victory. On Wednesday, Premier Boxing Champions and Fox formally announced a long-rumored rights deal.
The four-year, multi-platform agreement, expected to begin in December, will feature 10 "marquee fight nights" annually in prime time on the Fox broadcast network with 12 more cards slated to air on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes each year. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Ring magazine reported that Fox would pay out more than $60 million annually under the agreement.
The announcement also specifically mentioned that the package will include Fox Sports-PBC pay-per-view events and that Fox will produce the telecasts, which was not the case for the previous time-buy cards on Fox. In all, Fox said it will produce more than 175 hours of original PBC content per year across its channels.
"We're thrilled to expand our relationship with the PBC in coming years and take the world's best boxers to the next level by exposing them to the widest possible audiences across Fox, FS1 and FOX Deportes," Fox Sports national networks president Mark Silverman said. "While Fox Sports has been invested in boxing as a key property on both FS1 and Fox Deportes, this will be the first time in more than 30 years that boxing will be regularly featured in prime time on network television."
Under the previous time-buy arrangement, FS1 regularly televised lower level fights, with Fox televising nine prime-time cards since 2016 with mixed success. The first prime-time card, headlined by the Danny Garcia-Robert Guerrero vacant welterweight title bout, averaged more than 2.2 million viewers while more recent cards have averaged fewer than 1 million viewers.
The announcement comes just a week after PBC and premium cable network Showtime announced a three-year deal to extend their relationship -- and for the network to increase its live boxing offerings -- though Showtime paid tens of millions of dollars in fights fees each year all along.
The burning question now, however, will be which fighters under the PBC banner will appear on which network or will they appear on both? Haymon has around 160 fighters in his stable with about 20 being among the sport's elite, including heavyweight world titleholder Deontay Wilder, light heavyweight titlist Adonis Stevenson, super middleweight titlist David Benavidez, interim middleweight titlist Jermall Charlo, junior middleweight titlist Jermell Charlo, unified junior middleweight titlist Jarrett Hurd, welterweight titleholders Errol Spence Jr. and Keith Thurman, former welterweight world titleholders Shawn Porter and Garcia (who meet for a vacant belt on Saturday night on Showtime), lightweight titlist Mikey Garcia, featherweight titleholders Leo Santa Cruz and Gary Russell Jr. and former featherweight titlist Abner Mares.
Whichever network they wind up fighting on -- and perhaps there will be some crossover -- the biggest complaint among Haymon fighters has been a lack of activity. With 22 cards between Fox and FS1 added to the PBC calendar, they figure to be more active.
"We are pleased to continue with Fox Sports to showcase our unrivaled roster of more than 160 of the best boxers in the world, including 60 current and former world champions in the weight divisions that most excite the fans," said Tim Smith, the vice president of communications for Haymon Sports. "The PBC on Fox will bring the fans the best boxing and bring our boxers and the sponsors the biggest audience as we continue to pursue the goal of returning this great sport to mainstream prominence."
Fox, which will also live stream its events, said it would create shoulder programming to support the boxing cards, including behind-the-scenes shows, fight countdown preview shows, press conferences, weigh-ins and pre-fight and post-fight shows, as well as two studio-based PBC-branded shows per month.
The deal is the latest in a resurgence of money pouring into boxing. ESPN and Top Rank recently announced that they had torn up their previous four-year deal and entered into a new seven-year agreement that runs until August 2025 and calls for 54 live boxing events annually between ESPN and ESPN+ in addition to shoulder programming, fights from Top Rank's extensive library and studio content.
Also, streaming service DAZN, which launches in the United States on Sept. 10, announced an eight-year, $1 billion deal with Matchroom Boxing in May, as well as a deal for the second season of the World Boxing Super Series tournaments, which begin in October.