The NBC Sports Network—formerly the Versus Network—is bringing back boxing to its programming.
After a disastrous relationship with Bob Arum in which he had exclusive rights to televise all fights, including the many mismatches he scheduled, the network has given boxing a second chance with its "Fight Night" on January 21, 2012.
It would be easy to get nervous and wonder if those in charge will find a way to screw up this new deal, but the truth is that this card and series could help boxing in the here and now and in the long-term.
It's a new day and a new series and boxing deserves to have the benefit of the doubt with this fresh start and new year.
So here are the 10 reasons why the NBC Sports Network's "Fight Night" season premiere is something to get hyped about.
No matter what gripes fans have with this card, it's free.
There is no monthly subscription cost.
There is no $60 pay-per-view fee.
"Fight Night" is something fans can choose to watch just by paying their monthly cable bill. This free card is something every fan should be able to appreciate in an economy such as this.
Fight Night is going to be able to spend more money on every card than can ESPN's "Friday Night Fights."
This could have a huge impact on what fights can be made and how many fighters drop out of the cards before the matches take place.
It seems as if "Friday Night Fights" has so many fighters drop out because they aren't making HBO or Showtime money. If they sustain an injury in training camp or decide they don't want the fight, they are not concerned about losing the relatively paltry fight purse.
Fighters simply do not drop out as frequently when the paychecks are higher. The fewer fighters dropping out means the fewer last-minute fighter replacements or canceled fights. That will mean better fights on "Fight Night" than on any other free or basic cable television.
Neither Gabriel Rosado nor Jesus Soto-Karass are going to be champions. Their records and their styles of boxing just don't make attaining a championship much of a possibility.
They do have one thing going for them, though.
They both have a penchant for making exciting fights.
It doesn't matter that Soto-Karass has lost his last three or that Rosado seems to never win the big fight that could catapult him to main events or undercards on serious cards.
They both have iron wills and just enough skill and speed to make any bout they're in tough on their opponents.
Even if the main event is terrible, this match should leave fans more than happy.
In the last few years, the heavyweight boxing division has become synonymous with boring. That is a problem, but the "Fight Night" main event may provide some much needed push-back to the "boring" claim.
Sergei Liakhovich and Eddie Chambers are known for putting on some decent fights.
Liakhovich, who possesses a bit of power, has been in several thrilling bouts in his career. His last fight, a TKO loss to heavyweight contender Robert Helenius, was by no means a boring fight.
A few years ago Liakhovich competed in one of the best fights of the year against Lamon Brewster, which had fans and journalists raving.
Chambers is known for being small as a heavyweight, but fast with his hands.
Both heavyweights seem to have decent cardio and hopefully it will be on display for fans on January 21. If they perform at their best, it will be a memorable "Fight Night."
Main Events is promoting the fights, and its talent roster should tell fans something about the company.
The group has worked with Arturo Gatti, Zab Judah, Joel Julio and Tomasz Adamek.
Main Events has experience promoting fights without national television coverage, and it knows where to go to attract fanbases for its fighters.
While many promoters simply package fights and let HBO or Showtime deal with publicity, Main Events does real promotion for its fights.
Between making great fights and putting on great events, Main Events seems to know what it's doing.
Main Events has seven fighters on its roster.
Three are on the January 21 "Fight Night" card.
Only one is on the televised portion of the card.
Why is this good for fight fans? The lack of fighters on Main Events' roster means that the promotion will have to draw fighters to its cards who are represented by other promoters. This will create the variety in matchups that creates great fights.
Indeed, this variety begins with the Rosado vs. Soto-Karass co-main event on January 21.
Many fans might not know who J. Russell Peltz is, but this Philadelphia promoter is a skilled matchmaker. He is known for putting on exciting matchups and knowing which fighters will give the fans their money's worth.
And he is the matchmaker that Kathy Duva and Main Events chose to put this card together. If anyone knows how to make a good card, it's Peltz.
More importantly, only one of his fighters—Gabriel Rosado—is on the card.
At first glance, it seems like he might have done Rosado a favor by matching him up against a fighter like Jesus Soto-Karass because of Soto-Karass's recent losing streak.
In reality, these two fighters make for an exciting fight. Soto-Karass is a hard-nosed fighter who is going to bring some serious focus into the match. Peltz should be applauded for making such a potentially competitive fight.
Whenever fighters make it onto television they get a bump in pay. It helps to remember that just because these men claim to be warriors doesn't mean they do it for free.
It's good to know that by tuning in, fans are helping tell the network that these fighters deserve the opportunity to make money in boxing.
So watch "Fight Night" for the hopefully great fights, and feel good that you're helping these fighters make a living while continuing to entertain you for years to come.
In the past few years, while still called Versus, the NBC Sports Network televised UFC events.
While the UFC's deal with the NBC Sports Network expired this year, residual fans of MMA may watch the boxing on "Fight Night." Those fans who enjoy the striking in MMA may also enjoy boxing, and become fans of both sports.
This could potentially expand boxing's fan base, creating a greater audience for fights on the NBC Sports Network, which would encourage the network to put on more boxing matches.
This one is a long-shot, but not impossible.
The NBC Sports Network is owned by NBC. If boxing does well enough and shows that it not only captures the right demographics, but has healthy growth, NBC could consider bringing boxing back to network TV.
Additionally, in light of Fox's new deal with the UFC, NBC could put its combat sports focus toward building an audience for boxing, rather than a smaller brand of MMA.
In sum, "Fight Night" has great potential for creating fan enjoyment and entertainment, and assisting the growth of boxing.
Here is to those goals being accomplished.