Premier Boxing Champion (PBC) makes its debut Saturday night, when boxing returns to network television on NBC at 8:30 p.m. PBC will feature two co-main events at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, pitting Keith Thurman vs. Robert Guerrero and Adrien Broner vs. John Molina Jr.
The marquee bouts being shown on network television marks a shift away from the usual pay-per-view model or premium channel (e.g. HBO, Showtime) features. NBC’s broadcast will bring some star-power to accompany the fighters, with Marv Albert and Sugar Ray Leonard calling the bouts and Al Michaels serving as host. The return to NBC continues a banner year for boxing, with 2015 building toward the highly anticipated Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight in May.
Saturday night’s fights certainly promise some excitement as well. The first bout will pit young up-and-comer Keith Thurman (24-0, 21 KOs) vs. proven fighter Robert Guerrero (32-2-1, 18 KOs). Thurman will be making his first defense of his WBA welterweight title in front of an NBC audience that hasn’t seen a title fight since 1987.
"My brain can't compute how big of an opportunity this is for me," Thurman said at a press conference. "It's a blessing and an honor to be on this big of a stage. There are many world champions that could have opened up this show. This is a beautiful card, and I am honored to be the main event.
"This is what boxing needs. This stage is what is going to propel my career. We're trying to bring back the golden generation."
Guerrero, who called the TV exposure “unprecedented,” should have his hands full with the hard-charging 26-year-old. Thurman is known for his powerful punching, and has a self-proclaimed motto of "KOs for life." Guerrero is a serious challenger however, and one of his two defeats was a decision loss to champion Mayweather in 2013. It could be a tight, entertaining fight worthy of the heavy exposure.
The other main bout of the night shouldn’t disappoint either. Broner (29-1, 22 KOs) will take on the experienced Molina Jr. (27-5, 22 KOs). Broner, like Thurman, is a promising younger fighter looking to make his mark on the big stage. The 25-year-old’s only loss was to highly regarded, former-Mayweather-opponent Marcos Maidana in December 2013. It was a rough loss however, as Maidana won in a convincing unanimous decision. Broner has since fought twice however and won both bouts.
Broner’s opponent on Saturday, Molina Jr., is a workman-like fighter who should provide a good challenge. The 32-year-old will likely not allow Broner to walk away with an easy victory. The fights promise a good night for the sport and might signal the start of an important year for boxing. A return to network television means more eyes for boxing’s stars.
"I'm as curious as anybody to see if this provides a resurrection of sorts for a sport that became a pay-per-view sport and didn't enable a lot of guys to become particularly well known,” host Michaels said to reporters. “It's an opportunity for a lot of these fighters to get in the mainstream.”
TV Channel: NBC
Start Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBC Live Extra