Premier Boxing Champions on NBC made its debut Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, featuring the marquee co-main events of Keith Thurman vs. Robert Guerrero and Adrien Broner vs. John Molina Jr. The fights mostly lived up to the hype, as young stars Thurman and Broner won bouts in boxing’s return to network television.
The NBC broadcast marked a return of the sport to network television from the usual premium channel (HBO, Showtime) or pay-per-view landing spots. It was billed as a star-studded event with Marv Albert, Sugar Ray Leonard and Al Michaels all on-hand for NBC to provide a spark to the inaugural broadcast.
The welterweight pairing of Thurman (25-0, 21KOs) vs. Guerrero (32-3-1) was the fight of the night in an exciting, hard-fought matchup. Thurman, 26, and the 31-year-old veteran were involved in several sharp exchanges, but Thurman would eventually win convincingly. The bout really picked up in the 9th round when “One Time,” known for his punching power, sent Guerrero to the canvas with strong uppercuts. Guerrero, who lost to Floyd Mayweather in 2013, responded in the 10th with some landed haymakers of his own. In the end it was not enough for Guerrero, as Thurman won the fight with a unanimous decision, the judges scoring it 120-107, 118-109 and 118-108.
"He is one of the best,” Guerrero said of Thurman, according to ESPN. “He came in and stuck to his game plan. I take my hat off to him. I'm not a hater."
Thurman commented that perhaps Guerrero was calmer and had a veteran presence. He was able, however, to wear his opponent down and eventually take the fight over. Guerrero realized it was a fight that fans appreciate, even if the scorecards were lopsided.
“That’s the kind of performance that wins the hearts of fans even when you don’t win,” he said to reporters.
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Broner walked away with the comfortable victory, the judges scoring it 120-108, 120-108, 118-110. Broner outclassed Molina from the beginning of the fight all the way through. The big chances Molina took with hard punches missed and Broner went to town with a steady jab. He was able to duck punches a work toward a relatively simple victory, despite the fans protesting the lack of excitement.
“At the end of the day, the last time I fought for the crowd, I took my first loss," Broner said in a post-fight press conference, referencing his one defeat to Marcos Maidana. "So no disrespect to anybody, but I had to do what I had to do to win today.”
Broner won the decision with ease in a fight that never really looked in doubt. The two main fights of the night, while different both had the same result — the young star kept rising.
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