Back in the day, ESPN brought you a young Mickey Ward
You are a boxing fan. Almost by instinct, you scan boxing news for the next big PPV event. If you did so right now, this is what you would see: Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Sergey Fedchenko, Saturday, April 14, 2012; $44.95.
That's a lot of money to pay to see Marquez face someone not named Pacquiao. That's also a lot of money to see him face someone who has never been seen before on American television.
Imagine trying to set up a fight party for this to lower your costs? You would probably get responses such as these:
"He's fighting who?"
"Is that boxing or MMA?"
"Sorry. I think I'm doing laundry this Saturday night."
If you have not done so already, this might be the weekend for you to catch ESPN Friday Night Fights instead.
Here are the top reasons why every boxing fan should be making Friday Night Fights part of his or her regular routine.
You won't see Yuriorkis Gamboa on Saturday, but you could have seen an early version of him on FNF
Okay, so technically it's not free if you are paying your cable bill. But since you are not paying a fee just to gain access to this one event, it is as close to "free" as it gets.
Almost every Friday night during the season, ESPN Friday Night Fights will bring you two guaranteed fights.
If one (or both) fights ends early—and many do—ESPN will televise "swing" fights. In these cases, boxers who have more fingers on one hand than they have professional fights on their record wait in the wings to fight four- to six-round bouts.
There is no guarantee that they will be televised, but if they do make it on screen it may be the best chance they will ever have to showcase their abilities. Many will never become household names, but at least they can go home and brag about how they were on TV.
You as the fan win out because not only did you get free boxing, but you also got bonus free boxing!
I have heard people complain that Teddy Atlas draws too much attention to himself. Personally, I don't have a problem with him.
He brings great boxing insight and delivers what he knows in a way that is uniquely his. He is as close as boxing commentary gets to what Walt "Clyde" Frazier does for New York Knicks telecasts.
Well, maybe that's a stretch: He doesn't wear suits that steal the show or use alliteration and rhyme. But Atlas does sound more like a guy sitting in your living room talking about boxing than a person holding a microphone at the event discussing boxing.
Also, check out Atlas' fight plan preceding the main event: Even if you are not familiar with the fighters, his fight plan will give you a good idea of what to expect and what to look for.
Going back to what I said in the previous slide, sometimes you do not know who the fighters are when you tune into Friday Night Fights.
It does not matter.
ESPN does a very good job of finding fights that will be entertaining, even if the fighters in most cases are not household names.
One of the best examples of that would be Delvin Rodriguez vs. Pawel Wolak I, which took place on July 15, 2011. The fight was so good that it earned them a rematch that was part of the undercard of the PPV Cotto vs. Margarito II in December of last year.
Days after his press conference to promote his upcoming fight with Manny Pacquiao, Timothy Bradley appeared on ESPN Friday Night Fights as a guest commentator.
Shortly after defeating Juan Manuel Lopez for a second time, Orlando Salido appeared as a guest.
Fighters such as Bernard Hopkins and Antonio Tarver have also made appearances.
For fight fans, these provide a first-hand look into what the fighters think of their past fight performances as well as what they are lining up for the future.
In cases where fighters stay for the entire show, boxing enthusiasts also hear established fighters give their perspective on those featured on the show.
In many cases, you will not be familiar with the showcased fighters.
Give it time.
One look at a list of boxers featured on Friday Night Fights will show you why: While you may not know them now, many of the up-and-coming fighters will grow in fame.
Some fighters who appeared on the show:
Bobby Pacquiao (Manny's less-skilled big brother)
In some cases, established fighters will headline the fight card, as is the case with this week. Michael Katsidis will anchor this week's fight card, and you can find out more about it here.
If you haven't already, now is the right time to give Friday Night Fights a try.