HBO throws in towel on live boxing coverage after 45 years

Canelo Alvarez v James Kirkland

Canelo Alvarez v James Kirkland

The network's final live televised bout will be Daniel Jacobs vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko for the vacant IBF middleweight title on October 27 at Madison Square Garden.

HBO made its boxing debut with George Foreman's knockout of Joe Frazier in their January 22, 1973 heavyweight championship bout and most recently produced the much-anticipated PPV rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin for the unified middleweight title.

"We are a storytelling platform", said HBO Sports. Total number of fights on HBO: 1,111 Years televising Boxing: 45 February 3, 1996: HBO's legendary "Boxing After Dark" debuted, broadcasting from Inglewood, California with a main event featuring Marco Antonio Barrera vs. Kennedy McKinney.

Just last month, ESPN signed a deal with Top Rank signed a deal to broadcast 54 boxing events.

The only boxing related programming scheduled for 2019 thus far on HBO is the multi-part documentary called "What's My Name?"

"Boxing has been part of our heritage for decades".

Now 45 years later, HBO is throwing in the towel on boxing and will focus more heavily on sports documentary and reality programming, such as the National Football League training camp series "Hard Knocks", the "Being Serena" bio-series on tennis icon Serena Williams and LeBron James's talk show, "The Shop".

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To men like Hearn, who is hoping to usurp the old guard of the fight game with the streaming service DAZN in the United States, HBO's decision might even come as something of a small relief. "But from an entertainment point of view, it's not unique", the company said, adding that it wants to focus on "storytelling" suited to unscripted series, documentaries, reality programming, sports journalism and event specials.

"Going forward in 2019, we will be pivoting away from programming live boxing on HBO", the statement read.

HBO was the gold standard for boxing on television throughout most of its run, often drawing millions of viewers for its bouts. In contrast, HBO has hosted only 22 boxing events in 2018. It is headlined by the vacant middleweight world title fight between Daniel Jacobs and Sergey Derevyanchenko, with junior lightweight world titlist Alberto Machado defending his belt against Yuandale Evans in the co-feature. Multiple networks are now televising boxing; streaming services are bringing the sport to countless additional fans; and arenas across the world are now packed to the rafters to watch the sport of kings.

Only Lampley will likely stay on at HBO.

The New York Times reported that of HBO's boxing announce team, which includes Max Kellerman, Roy Jones Jr. and Andre Ward, only blow-by-blow voice Jim Lampley is expected to remain with the network. "So I will remain in place". His close decision win over Golovkin in their rematch on September 15 on HBO PPV generated around 1.1 million buys. Still, the prospect that HBO would soon be out of the boxing business seemed unthinkable to some industry insiders. Its 1,100-plus fights since then included Evander Holyfield-Foreman in 1991, one of the first PPV fights, on TVKO (later renamed HBO PPV).

Most recently HBO produced the highly anticipated rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin for the unified middleweight title.

Jones and De La Hoya appeared more than any other fighters with 32 bouts apiece.

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