ESPN delivers where others come up short!

By Mike Samuels


ESPN delivers where others come up short!

It's not everyday in the world of boxing that fight fans are treated to three good fights on one pay-per-view show. These days one out of three is about par for the course. When you add to the fact that there were no controversial decisions (although Jameel McCline may disagree) plus no need to shell out a 50 spot to cover the nights action and it's safe to say that ESPN's first pay per-view show was at least a critical success. Whether it was a financial success will await the pay-per-view numbers.

Yes, ESPN is the same network that seems to only cover boxing when Mike Tyson appears in the shadows.  They sometimes give short shrift names like Morales, Barerra, De La Hoya or Mayweather. They recently cut their licensing fees to promoters, which often results in Friday Night Fights main events that use 
guys from a street corner to pad prospects records.  But the popular sports network has been vowing to change the landscape of boxing since it joined forces with Main Events late in 2004 and it began working towards its first official pay per-view boxing event. And while HBO and Showtime may have first shot most of the major players in the sport, ESPN's fan friendly price of $29.99 matched with young, hardworking fighters trying to break through to the sport's top tier is a winning combination.

Saturday's card was more than solid. In fact it was very entertaining than some of the shows in recent weeks,which saw boxing fans pay up more money dollars to watch Marco Antonio Barerra smash out a guy whose promoter seemed to get to the mandatory spot by making donations.  What was supposed to be four great fights tunred into three when Juan Diaz's cut cancelled out Ebo Elder's title challenge, turned into three very good ones. 

The opener saw Calvin Brock get up from the canvas in the seventh round en route to a gutsy decision win over Jameel McCline. The fight rarely had a dull moment as McCline battled through a swollen eye and Brock continued to throw punches as the blood from a cut trickled down his eye. Let's not go crazy overrating Brock just yet, but it is a legitimate win that is going to help the former Olympian continues towards a shot at a world title.   Not sure where McCline goes from here, but lets also hope that he continues to provide fans with exciting heavyweight fights.  The downside is obviously that he has lost his last two fights. But on the upside they have both been entertaining and close. That has to count for something.

The only real superstar on the card, Sugar Shane Mosley, was victorious against the game David Estrada in his return bout at the welterweight division. Mosley was far from spectacular, but he did show signs of the quickness he lacked at 154 pounds. Estrada was hurt a few times by left hooks to the body, but he kept
charging forward and occasionally caught Mosley with lead right hands as he was leaning back to avoid punches.  Estrada gave fans their moneys worth and we should be seeing him a lot more in the future. Mosley's options in the talent rich welterweight division are limited only by promotional politics.

The main event between WBO welterweight titlist Antonio Margarito and Kermit Cintron was promoted to be a slugfest from the day it was signed and it lived up to every expectation. Margarito proved to be too much for Cintron, beating him to the punch from the opening bell en route to a fifth round TKO. Cintron is young and gutsy and I would expect to see him back in action after taking time to reflect on his first pro loss.  Margarito showed that he is still what he's always been - a warrior. A big pay day is sure to be in his near future.

The night proved to be one of the better, and cheaper, ones for boxing in a long time. Perhaps other promoters, including Golden Boy, who promoted the Barrera fiasco, will learn that putting on good fights at a decent bargain is the real way to improve the state of the sport.  Regardless of what the purchase numbers are, ESPN's first pay per-view was a winner.


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