Boxing may be witnessing a resurgence in 2015, as NBC will debut its featured Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) bouts on Saturday night. The event will feature two bouts: Keith Thurman (24-0, 21 KOs) vs. Robert Guerrero (32-2-1, 18 KOs), and Adrien Broner (29-1, 22 KOs) vs. John Molina Jr. (27-5, 22 KOs).
In a year that features Floyd Mayweather facing Manny Pacquiao in arguably the most anticipated bout in decades, boxing on regular television should provide another boost in visibility for a sport that has often been overlooked by many sports fans. Most marquee boxing events are seen on pay-per-view or on premium-cable networks like HBO or Showtime, but NBC will be providing viewers with an opportunity to watch top boxers on network television. The broadcasters will be Marv Albert and Sugar Ray Leonard, with Al Michaels serving as host.
“This is a big thing,” welterweight Josesito Lopez told the Orange County Register. “As a fighter and a fan, I’m excited for it. To be able to watch boxing on national TV is a big thing.”
The first co-main event pits the up-and-coming Thurman against an established force in the welterweight division. Thurman, 26, is a perfect 24-0 in his career. He’s known for his hard-charging, aggressive style and has knockout power. His self-proclaimed motto as a boxer is “KOs for life.” Thurman, or "One Time," doesn’t lack for confidence and it showed in an interview with ESPN when discussing his plan for the upcoming fight.
“All we have to do is land our punches like always,” he said. “Boxing is a hit-and-don't-get-hit sport.
"Moving, getting my angles, sitting down and really just hurting him like I know that I can. Out of 24 fights, there has only been one person that has never hit the mat. So I don't expect anything different. There are a lot of people who haven't passed the 'Keith Thurman test' and I don't expect Guerrero to be the first.”
Guerrero, 31, is an experienced welterweight who should be a serious challenge for Thurman. He has a career record of 32-2-1, but one of those losses was a decision defeat to Mayweather in May 2013. He bounced back from the loss to defeat Yoshihiro Kamegai in June. The fight with Thurman is projected to be a good matchup. Guerrero has been around the block before for big time fights and was bit more reserved in his pre-fight comments.
“Keith Thurman is a great fighter,” he said at a press conference announcing the fight. “He’s quick on his feet, quick with his hands. He has power. You got to respect that.”
Guerrero would later tell Ring Magazine, " I will be testing his chin though; that you can count on."
It should be a welterweight matchup to remember and one that could affirm Guerrero’s legacy or propel a young Thurman onto the national scene. The other bout on PBC’s debut night features a similar storyline. Broner is a brash, young star and a compatriot of Mayweather. The 25-year-old has already won nearly all of his bouts in convincing fashion. His only defeat was to highly regarded Marcos Maidana, another recent opponent of Mayweather, in a unanimous decision in December 2013. Broner has since fought twice and won both by decision.
His opponent, Molina Jr., is a well-respected veteran. He's known for being a workman fighter who brawls with determination. The 32-year-old has drawn reserved comments from the typically confident Broner in the buildup to the fight.
“You can never judge a guy by his record,” Broner said of Molina Jr.’s five losses to Ring Magazine. “A guy can be 0-12 but all 12 losses can be by top-level fighters but just handle your business and you’ll be OK.”
He did add that he was ready for the primetime lights of fighting on network television however, saying, “I am Mr. NBC and I’ll be on NBC all this year.”