PBC's Coming Out Party
Written by Kylie Krabbe
February 7th 2015
It would seem that more than just boxing fans are excited about Premier Boxing Champions first card, dolled up extra special with a sweet primetime network airdate courtesy of grand puppeteer Al Haymon. The Inaugural PBC show, featuring Keith “ One Time” Thurman (24-0, 21KOs) vs. Robert “ The Ghost” Guerrero (32-2-1, 18KOs) as the appetizer preceding the main event, Adrien” The Problem” Broner (29-1, 22KOs) vs. John “The Gladiator” Molina Jr. (27- 5, 22KOs), is scheduled for Saturday, March 7, 2015, and telecast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on NBC (8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT). To a man, almost all of the boxers set on the card were giddy with the anticipation of being part of something bigger than themselves – save the lone obstinate exception of Mr. Broner via conference call last week: “ I really don’t care what station it’s on long as people can see us fight,” Mr. Broner brashly claimed in an almost knee jerk contrarian response when asked. However, even the ever-audacious Mr. Broner couldn’t continue in this vein. Realizing the position was almost as inconceivable as it was untenable considering the decades it has been since professional boxing has been featured live on primetime big three-network television, it took little time for him to abruptly reverse his statement as the call ensued. “Obviously, there’s going to be a lot more people seeing us fight. I’m just ready to put on a show,” allowed Broner, wisely ceasing to remain the sole blasé holdout amongst four boxers set to make history.
Indeed, this fight date is going to be a real deal litmus test for all of the doubters and the simply curious when it comes to seeing if Haymon, with the coup of getting boxing back on primetime television, can finish as strong as he has started right out of the gate. Mr. Haymon has his work cut out for him considering that he has the onus of finding the advertising for all of the cushy network spots that he has negotiated with NBC. However, the gate remains huge enough for untold returns if things go off without a hitch. Many non-boxing fans will be watching this fight due simply to the time slot and it’s placement on one of network television’s biggest channels. If the fights deliver serious action on March 7 – enough to captivate that enlarged viewing audience and convert them into religious return viewers, everyone associated with this first installment of PBC boxing could do very well professionally win or lose come fight night. Robert Guerrero, who has had a taste of the biggest boxing has had to offer having fought Floyd Mayweather Jr. (47-0, 26KOs), remarked in comparing his past Mayweather bonanza versus the projected bonanza fighting the relatively untested Thurman, “ It’s a big deal…and I think this is going to be even bigger (than Mayweather) with viewing audience that comes with NBC…. I’m excited about it and very focused and ready to go.” enthused Guerrero.
However, NBC virgin voyage viewer ship issues aside, boxing is boxing. To that end there have been some questions amongst seasoned boxing fans as to whether Al Haymon repped fighter Adrien Broner’s step down to 140 to fight Molina isn’t a bit of a licking his wounds gesture to regain confidence given his recent loss at 147 to Marcos Rene Maidana (35-5, 31KOs). Yes, Molina is a game and entertaining fighter, but he comes into March 7th looking to end a two fight losing streak. Solidly outclassed by Maidana in December 2013, is Broner politically hiding in plain sight on NBC by fighting an easier battle at a lighter weight under bigger lights for newer less critical fans? Broner was dismissive yet evasive on direct query: “ It isn’t about who I fight anymore. They (the fans) just want to see me fight …I can’t wait to fight Maidana again, but the guy I have to fight is John Molina so I’m going to hand him my business and worry about making the Maidana rematch later,” stated Broner. Just being happy to see Broner fight might hold true for newer more casual fans, but not necessarily those that return rain or shine as the sport’s bread and butter. As such, to repair damage to his reputation Broner really need to perform well on the big stage in March if he wants to continue in an upwardly mobile fight career path.
In contrast to Broner, Molina was less indirect with regard to ugly questions. In addressing complaints that due to recent losses he doesn’t deserve March’s huge platform with a fighter of Broner’s stature, Molina remained straightforward and unperturbed almost to the point of waxing philosophical. “Boxing's going back to primetime television…if you look back at the old-time fighters…losses were to be expected because you had the best fighting the best, “ stated Molina. He continued explaining, “I took the scenic route to get to where I'm at…. people have fallen in love with my style…. I believe everyone got it right by putting the styles of myself and Adrien Broner together on that card, that night on March 7th on primetime television… I have my strengths, he has his strengths… I feel like I'll be the stronger man in the ring,” Mr. Molina conjectured coolly.
As for the Thurman vs. Guerrero match-up, set to precede the main event, Thurman necessarily feels it has been a long time coming for him to get the likes of a road tested competitor like Guerrero standing across from him in the ring. Having suffered the same questions of durability that Deontay Wilder (33-0, 32KOs) suffered going into his match against the more storied Bermane Stiverne (24-2-1, 21KOs), Thurman is eager to finally prove that he is indeed the real “One Time” deal when faced with the likes of competition like Guerrero - which he hasn’t been regularly afforded up to this point in his career. “ We respect Robert, “ said Thurman. “We’re at world-class level… It's been a long time since I've had to face a fighter like him, who has the experience that he has and has the mentality that he has and has the roughness that he has,” stated Thurman. With regard to complaints about political sidestepping, Thurman was of the mind that yesterday is the past and today is for those interested in looking forward versus backward. “…. I've said a lot about people who have avoided me, but at the end of the day I'm truly not mad at anybody… I know the businessman in me and the businessman inside the rest of these fighters, them and their team are going to strategically plan out their careers… here I am. Me and 'The Ghost'. He's known that I've been knocking on his door. We've been trying to get this fight for a while. He's ready for it.”
As for Guerrero, in response he wasn’t as ready as Keith to let bygones be bygones. While Guerrero was quick to name his father as the culprit when it came to most of the derogatory trash talk against Thurman, after Thurman’s discourse above, it soon became abundantly clear that the apple didn’t in fact fall far from the tree when it came to Guerrero answering fire with fire: “Keith hasn't fought nobody like me. He's fought tough guys, guys with experience, but he hasn't fought nobody like me,” fired Guerrero. Mr. Guerrero then went on to be harshly criticize Mr. Thurman’s ability to adequately gage opponents via a lacerating commentary of Thurman’s recent rehash of his decision win over Italian fighter and former Olympian Leonard Bundu (31-1-2, 11KOs). “What you asked Keith earlier about the last guy that he fought, that he (Bundu) is like the best step toward Mayweather….that guy was the slowest guy on his feet ever. Mayweather is fast. I've been in there with him. He is fast on his feet and with his hands. That guy was no comparison at all…. Oh man. If you're comparing the stuff like that it's laughable,” Mr. Guerrero griped derisively, effectively ending any illusions Thurman might have had of respectful exchanges between “world –class” competition of the likes of he and Guerrero before March 7th.
Broner also exhibited a healthy disrespect and passive aggressive camaraderie towards Molina, dispatching him and his talent with a sloppy killing them with kindness type of false bonhomie:
“I really don't care…I know John Molina's going to come swinging for the fences. This is his big turnaround for his career. If he beats Adrien Broner, who knows where his career can go… John Molina's the one that's going to have to take his beating on March 7th. … He can hang with me one day…. but up until then, he's definitely the opponent. I'm going in to get my victory.”
With animosity and disrespect running rampant between both camps for both fights, hopefully it translates in the ring to a red hot competitive fight night for all concerned on NBC in Las Vegas come March 7, 2015.