If you want to know more about Sergio Martinez leading up to his fight on Saturday, there are worse places to look than HBO’s website. You will find a video highlight reel of his last few fights (from Cintron to Williams II). If you dig a little bit, there’s a Ring-life feature (a solid four minutes long) on Sergio filmed before his second bout with Williams.
But one would hope for more.
Before I share some misgivings about the site, I want to commend it for what it does do well. For those who haven’t checked out HBO Boxing online, I recommend giving it a look. They have plenty of high-quality videos (clips and full fights), episodes of classic 24/7s and lots of biographical videos on different fighters. They also have “Greatest Hits” collections of many of their best fighters (Pacquiao, Mayweather, Marquez), which are worthy highlight packages from their biggest bouts.
The past couple of years, they have done an admirable job in assembling videos and presenting them online for free. It’s not perfect, but for a network website, it’s well above average in terms of archived content. But while the Showtime website is littered with videos to hype up Cotto-Mayorga—a much less meaningful clash the same night as Sergio’s fight—HBO has very little, in terms of new media, to offer viewers anticipating this Saturday’s offering.
HBO has a genuinely good fight brewing in Sergio Martinez vs. Sergei Dzinzurik. It’s been mildly criticized due to Dzinzo’s anonymity outside of hardcore boxing circles. I think it’s best characterized as a great, legitimate champion taking on a dangerous challenger—a scenario I’ll relish any day.
The website has a mere three features attached to this fight. The first is a one-minute and 11 second video of Lou DiBella and Gary Shaw verbally jabbing at a pre-fight press conference interspersed with clips of Dzinzurik in action in the ring. This was admittedly entertaining for the seventy-one seconds it lasted. Obviously, HBO has the full footage. Why edit this down to a third of the length of a music video?
Perhaps we would have enjoyed seeing more footage of Dzinzurik, considering he’s completely unknown and HBO supposedly insisted on him as Sergio’s opponent. Show us what he’s got. Put the entire press conference video up, and if people want snippets, they can fast forward.
Also, assemble a package of Dzinzurik's highlights. With the resources at HBO’s disposal, how hard can this be? When you give the viewers more options and more material, it will only help in creating enthusiasm for an event.
24/7 made Floyd Mayweather a star. Sergio can’t even get a new Bio piece; they recycled the one from six months ago before the Williams fight. Presumably, one will air on the broadcast. Still, nothing is on the website yet, and we're approaching 48 hours to opening bell.
The second clip is 77 seconds (1:17!) of Roy Jones and Max Kellerman looking forward to the fight. Did you guys have somewhere to be? Can we get a five-minute breakdown here?
I actually enjoy these guys as commentators, despite Roy’s bizarre, uncomfortable sermon at the end of last week’s broadcast. I might admire that if I’m watching a biography of Roy Jones Jr. If I’m watching a fight that he is working as an analyst, though, I would prefer that, as a professional, he stick to more ‘worldly’ explanations for a fighter’s success.
Hopefully someone can point that out in a non-offensive way. I find a lot of his banter highly entertaining and often insightful, but I fear the “God” speech, as Roy’s final comment, turned out to be the lingering moment for many viewers when assessing his role.
The third clip is the greatest hits package of Martinez, which captures some of the best moments from his fights with Cintron, Williams, and Pavlik. It’s a proper introduction to his recent body of work.
So, in total, you get three clips related to Martinez-Dzinzurik.
Showtime takes it to another level in their promotion and coverage of the Cotto fight online. They offer press conference clips, interviews and fighter background videos. They also aired a half-hour special on the network (which was actually rather dull, in my opinion, considering how flamboyant Mayorga can be).
Now, I understand it is PPV, so the incentive to promote is much greater. But look at the online coverage of the Super Six tourney, and you will realize this is not an isolated occurrence.
There have been suggestions, almost entirely sparked by the Manny Pacquiao switch, that Showtime is becoming the dominant network in boxing again. As of now, that is entirely premature. HBO, in general, has far superior quality in their broadcasts. They have a strong schedule in the coming months.
This is my opinion, but I am looking forward to Berto-Ortiz, Hopkins-Pascal II and Bradley-Khan—among others. I’d watch any of those fights over the Bantamweight final. The real Bantamweight final was a devastating knockout by Nonito Donaire in February delivered on HBO.
Still, I give Showtime a lot of credit. With the effort they put into their website, much like the underdog in the ring, it’s hard not to root for them.